Industry Focus

Crossing the Border at Your Peril

There is little question that the Southern U.S. border is porous; people stream into the United States at will. There is a great need for security; and the best technology should be used. Apprehensions on the Southwest border peaked in 2000 at 1.64 million and has generally declined since, totaling 303,916 in 2017.

There are issues absent of security or politics that have drawn attention to the southern border. As families cross the border and are detained, little children are being separated from parents, and placed in wire pens.

I get the idea of securing the borders, and I’m all for it. Separating a child from their parent is unthinkable. Building a wall won’t work. Between 2010 and 2015, the current 654 mile pedestrian wall was breached more than 9,285 times. Considerations for a technology- advanced plan will work.

Increase use of cameras, fixed towers and aerial and underground sensors. TA wall was an incredible solution in the 14th century; it doesn’t address the challenges of the 21st century, especially in view of a long-term solution.

Border security is not a new problem, and it has been addressed for families. In 1997, then Attorney General Janet Reno settled the Flores v Reno lawsuit, challenging the administration’s detention of juvenile migrants taken into custody. The government agreed it could detain unaccompanied minors for 20 days before sending them to DHS for foster care or to protective guardians. A highly debated decision by the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, extended this 20-day rule to all juveniles who illegally cross the border with parents. These issues have been ongoing for 20 years or more.

On June 20, the president signed an executive order directing families who enter the country illegally be kept together “to the extent permitted by law.” This puts the responsibility on those making/changing laws i.e.; Congress. There are myriad ancillary questions and issues such as the asylum situation or migrant labor. I can’t get the children out of my thoughts.

Dr. Colleen Kraft, head of the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a Texas shelter and saw a toddler inside a 60-bed facility. She had been taken from her mother the night before and was crying uncontrollably, pounding her little fits on a mat. Putting a two-year-old in these conditions is cruel. It is troubling and inhumane on every level.

Other governments, specifically in the 1940s, separated children from their mothers. The United States can ill afford to head in that direction. The stress on children must be overwhelming. The welfare of these children must be a focus, absent of politics. You don’t do this to children.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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