Report sheds light on missing data in border security debate

May 14, 2013

The Senate Judiciary Committee will resume voting on amendments to a comprehensive immigration reform bill on Tuesday. Many of those amendments deal with border security, but a new report sheds light on the data missing from the current debate.

Border The report estimates that replicating the German ratio of border agents on the U.S.-Mexico border would require tripling the number of agents, at a cost of an additional $6 billion a year.(Photo by Michel Marizco-KJZZ)

 

A central part of the conversation about immigrate reform in Congress is how to secure the southern border and what measure to use to declare it secure.

A report released by the non partisan Council on Foreign Relations asserts that the federal government is not providing enough useful data about border enforcement outcomes, which makes it hard for lawmakers to set effective policy. Edward Alden is one of the co-authors of the report.

"If the American tax payers are going to pay billions of dollars trying to keep from entering illegally across the Southwest border, then there should be some evidence that that money is being well spent and people are actually being stopped or deterred from entering," Alden said. "That is a fundamental question without respect to border security that the government does not answer well."

The authors analyzed one of the most secure borders in history, the 866 mille border that divided East and West Germany during the Cold War. According to German records, that border had a 95 percent apprehension rate, but according to report authors, it was also lined with mines, and the guards had orders to use deadly force against border crossers.

"And so people who are talking for instance about something close to 100 percent apprehension for the United States on the border with Mexico, that is just not realistically achievable," Alden said. "The Germans were willing to do things in the Cold War that the United States would never be willing to do."

The report estimates that replicating the German ratio of border agents on the U.S.-Mexico border would require tripling the number of agents, at a cost of an additional $6 billion a year.

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