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Mon, Aug 22 2005

Terrorism Isn't Just Over There Somewhere

While our troops fight terrorism half a world away we have cities on our side of the border, and on the Mexican side, that are being turned into communities where drug runners control the space while police try to stay alive and keep peace. Frightened citizens, including land owners along both sides of the border, have to deal with property damage, crops being destroyed and cattle stolen and killed. The El Paso Times ran a story on what is happening in the border area of Columbus, New Mexico. The governor of that state has declared a state of emergency in several border counties, as has the governor of the state of Arizona. It's likely that Governor Schwarzenegger will soon do the same in the state of California.

Border states' resources are strained and acknowlegement of the seriousness of this issue has been slow in coming from a federal level. Some citizens, along with a few representatives and senators, are beginning to stand up and demand that Washington's war on terror include help for our own Southern border.

Tempers have flared following the case in which property owners in Hebbronville, Texas ended up giving up their property to pay two illegal immigrants who filed a lawsuit with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The case is complicated and stems from claims that Casey Nethercott pistol-whipped at least one of the immigrants. A jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in that charge, but Mr. Nethercott was convicted of felon firearm possession after his arrest. Controversy continues to surround the arrest, in which an associate of Mr. Nethercott was reportedly shot by an FBI agent. Some see Mr. Nethercott as a hero, while others view him as a vigilante or a racist. The land owners along the border are being told the U.S. Border Patrol can't suppress the illegal immigrants, but the land owners are also being told not to take action on their own. These are heart-wrenching, emotional issues that bring out the best and worst in people.

I have maintained for some time that most of our politicians seem to have no real concept of the rising anger over illegal immigration. The sheer numbers of people pouring over the border are beginning to frighten the people who live and work here legally. And frightened people are more likely to become angry and start taking matters into their own hands. Many are compassionate only toward people who are willing to take steps to come into this country legally. And many are compassionate to those who run over the border illegally. Still others want to put a hold on all immigration. Politicians do at least note that there is enough opinion for them to use to give speeches on the whole issue in order to be elected or to keep their particular party in a majority position. But they don't seem aware of the fierce feelings and the increasing number of grassroots groups forming to take a stand. Some politicians say we should make it easier for people to come into the country legally, but that will in no way stop the chain of drug smuggling and other illegal issues.

Of course, all the open discussion is great. Free speech is a wonderful thing. I'm using it right now as I write this post. But we all know that free speech can incite riots. For instance, how long is it going to be until someone puts one of these bumper stickers on their car and we end up with arguments and even violence as a result?

California residents are circulating a petition to put an initiative on the ballot that could result in the formation of the California Border Police. The Police would be trained to act as extra security at our California-Mexico border. It's not a perfect solution. But our U.S. Border Patrol is not keeping up with the rush of illegal immigrants coming into the state. The cause may be monetary or political or a combination of factors. Whatever the cause, or causes, our taxpayer money is not doing the job and politicians need to acknowledge that so it can be taken care of.

The knowledge that we simply can't allow drug runners and human smugglers to have free rein is beginning to overshadow the compassion for those immigrants who are simply seeking a better way of life. Some Californians are saying it's time to figure out how to make legal entry work better for those who want to be here and make illegal entry impossible for everyone else. And some Californians are so fed up with the problem that they're willing to keep almost everyone from coming over the border. It's not going to be easy to figure out. But the problem is not going away. It's getting worse. Each news story that involves illegal immigration sparks new debates. The time to address the issue is now, before it becomes more than just a topic of conversation and results in violence between people who are passionate on whatever side they take. Maybe the California Border Police initiative is a good start for people in the state of California.

posted at: 09:22 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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