The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, or NAFBPO, has issued a proposal for "Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement and Reform." Unlike the speeches by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, these proposals have some relation to reality.
Who are the members of NAFBPO? Some are retired and former high-ranking Border Patrol managers, individuals who managed the agency's training academy, supervised hundreds of agents in field operations or held senior positions at headquarters. Cumulatively, they have several hundred years of professional experience guarding our borders. The picture they paint of what needs to be done is based on that experience, not political expediency.
I have met and talked with some of these retired Border Patrol officials, and they are worried. Like all of us, they see our porous borders and want to see them made secure. But unlike the rest of us, they really know how to do it.
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The NAFBPO 24-page proposal is divided into 10 "steps," each with several specific proposals. It should come as no surprise that step No. 1 is to secure our borders, both at the ports of entry and between them. What may surprise many people is that they see nine additional steps as essential to true immigration reform and enforcement of our laws. Among the others steps are interior enforcement, tackling ID fraud, rejection of amnesty and a workable temporary worker program.
To secure the border, the NAFBPO experts believe the current manpower level of 20,000 agents is sufficient – if other parts of their proposal are adopted. That is a big "if," but I have no quarrel with it in principle. If we ever achieve true enforcement of the laws prohibiting employment of illegal aliens, the flow of people across the border would decline sharply to numbers the Border Patrol could handle at the 20,000 manpower level. The point NAFBPO wants to make is that we do not need to double the size of the Border Patrol if we get serious about the other parts of true immigration enforcement.
The NAFBPO report spends more time talking about needed improvements in interior enforcement and related topics than about changes on "the line," the border itself. Under the mandate to "enforce existing laws and use existing tools" is the expanded use of the 287g authority by local law enforcement. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has moved in the exact opposite direction by curtailing the delegation of authority to local law enforcement and putting the brakes on new agreements.
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Some of the proposals will sound familiar, such as expanded use of the federal E-Verify program. But others are new or show a new willingness to impose consequences for non-enforcement of our immigration laws. NAFBPO proposes that the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration revive the use of "No-Match Letters" to warn employers of employees are using Social Security numbers that do not match SSA records. They also advocate, "in egregious cases," the prosecution of sanctuary cities under 8 USC 1373 for "willful concealment of aliens."
The retired Border Patrol officers support expanded Temporary Worker Programs, but only "after demonstration of a secure border and proof of an effective employer sanctions program." That will not please the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has for years opposed both of those measures.
The report includes dozens of other proposals that are worthy of serious consideration as part of any comprehensive reform proposal. I hope their ideas get a fair hearing in Washington, but I will not hold my breath. The Obama administration is committed to an amnesty agenda and is not interested in a well-conceived, balanced reform program like the one NAFBPO is offering. We may see an attempt by Obama and Pelosi to push through an amnesty bill in a lame duck session of the 111th Congress, and if that happens, none of the NAFBPO proposals will be included. The bill being promoted by Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Gutierrez and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has more in common with the views of the National Council of la Raza than the ideas presented by retired Border Patrol officers.
I salute the patriots in NAFBPO who took the time to organize and present a thoughtful and comprehensive menu of "immigration enforcement and reform" proposals. It should be scandalous that the very concept of immigration law enforcement has already been rejected by the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. The fact that it is not scandalous tells us volumes about what is wrong with the immigration reform debate.