TUCSON, ARIZ. – The Tucson sector of the Border Patrol has reported that midway through the month of January, drug seizures and apprehensions of illegal immigrants are already up over the same period last year.

The increases aren’t nickel-and-dime, and neither are the elevated risks that always follow when these outnumbered and understaffed public servants do their job: Along with higher seizures of drugs and illegals have come numerous incidents of gunplay. Agents in the busy Douglas and Naco areas of the Tucson patrol sector have, as of this writing, been shot at twice already, and firearms have been discovered on suspects and along smuggling trails near the border.

Meanwhile, talk-show host Roger Hedgecock and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin report that Mexican consular officials are doubling as phony Immigration and Naturalization Service agents, in a bid to extract known smugglers of humans and drugs out of the clutches of U.S. law enforcement and back into Mexico, where they can reapply their trade. WorldNetDaily reported the story Wednesday.

One of the ne’er-do-well illegals was likely to be charged with murder, since he wrecked the truck he was using to try to escape local police and Border Patrol officers chasing him at high speed. The accident killed two women who were Mexican nationals. It wouldn’t have necessarily been worse if the dead were Americans, but should Americans expect to be run over and killed by illegal aliens and their smugglers?

Meanwhile still, drug enforcement agents, Customs agents and other federal and local law enforcement have uncovered mucho drug smuggling in Big Bend National Park in Texas, about 270 miles southeast of El Paso on the border with Mexico.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Park in Arizona has been given the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous park in the United States because of all the illegal alien and drug-smuggling traffic there. That’s the place where 28-year-old Park Service agent Kris Eggle was killed by suspected narco-traffickers in August.

Meanwhile still, U.S. and Mexican officials have found scores of tunnels being used by smugglers to smuggle drugs, people and – some fear – terrorists into the U.S. In fact, officials say, more tunnels have been discovered since December than in nearly all of the previous 10 years.

This is Homeland Security? Obviously, no.

But it is dangerous, both to law enforcers and those they are charged with protecting. And, as the evidence suggests, things are getting worse.

How bad? Soldier of Fortune magazine reports in its January 2003 issue that Belgian weapons maker FN is making available to American police a military-type version of its squad automatic machine gun, the MINIMI. (The U.S. military has designated it the M249 SAW.) Why? As the magazine hinted, some law-enforcement agencies know they would benefit from such a weapon because they are increasingly outgunned by better-financed drug runners and, often, their Mexican army escorts.

Do “average” illegal immigrants really hurt anything? That depends on who is doing the assessment.

According to coastal and inland liberals, no – they’re just poor, downtrodden people trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Fine – then they should try legal immigration.

According to border state folks and the ranchers and landowners who must constantly deal with the illegal traffic, the “pain” comes in the form of heaps of trash, destruction of fence and livestock, property devaluation and even threats to one’s life. One woman in Texas has even had her home invaded by illegals who demanded she accommodate them.

Thanks to the Second Amendment, she and many border ranchers and property owners are still around today to complain about the porous sieve of a border and Washington’s criminal inaction to address it, even in these terrorist times in which we live.

Attorney General John Ashcroft decided to “visit the border” and went to San Diego earlier this week. His verdict? He praised a border commuter program that still took eight months to work.

“This administration is committed to a border that is both secure and one that facilitates the exchange of people, information, and goods and services,” he hailed.

From one Missouri boy to another, John, get out in the real country if you want to see the damage illegal immigration is really causing.

Looks like the border follies will continue. Except that to real people on both sides of the border dealing with this issue day after day, it’s no joke. Shame on this administration and Congress for making it one.

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