Border Operational ControlMay 5, 2010 - 7:46 AM | by: William La Jeunesse
Washington talks a lot about border security.
“Border security is homeland security and our border is not secure,” Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Tucson Democrat recently said.
“Things are spinning out of control,” added California Republican Rep. Ed Royce.
But how does anyone actually know when the border is secure?
Securing the border makes for a good sound bites, but it has no meaning. There is no metric that says, ‘border secured.’
But there is a term that does have meaning – operational control. The 2007 McCain-Kennedy immigration bill stipulated that before America’s illegal immigrants could be legalized, border governors and the Department of Homeland Secretary had to certify the Southwest Border was under the department’s ‘operational control.’
“Operational control means you have the ability to detect, identify, classify, respond and resolve any border incursion in your area of responsibility,” says Paul Beeson, Yuma, AZ sector chief of the Border Patrol.
“When we say we have operation control, there is a substantial likelihood if you cross within that area, you will be caught.”
Right now Yuma appears to be the only one of nine border patrol regions under ‘operational control’. Last year, agents caught 6,951 immigrants, down dramatically from 138,492 in 2005.
Why the success here? Out of 126 miles, 110 miles is fenced. That’s backed up by multiple cameras, mobile radar units, and 950 agents, triple the number in 2005. Also the area has zero tolerance for illegal entry. Entering with U.S. without authorization can land an illegal immigrant in jail for up to 6 months. Most jurisdictions are too busy to handle the thousands of these small cases. But in Yuma, everyone goes to jail, a major deterrent, says Beeson.
“You don’t want to cross in this area, because when they catch you, you’re going to jail.”
The latest immigration reform proposal from Democrats does not say anything about operational control, something Republicans and even some Democrats are likely to demand. Otherwise, many fear the U.S. will repeat the mistakes of the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act, where Congress promised but did not follow through on border security. As a result, the U.S. legalized more than 3 million illegal immigrants, only to see another 12 to 20 million come into the country.