FORMER IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL SAYS BOOSTING SECURITY ALONG THE
BORDER HAS BEEN A WASTE OF MONEY AS IT ACTUALLY INCREASES THE NUMBER OF ILLEGALS WHO SETTLE IN THE U.S. -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
More Security Causes Dangerous Crossings, Leading to the Deaths of Migrants
The former top immigration official for San Diego says the U.S. has wasted billions of dollars trying to gain more control of the border with Mexico. Efforts so far, says Mark Reed, have done nothing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants but have had the effect of driving more of them into the desert where upwards of a thousand died this year attempting to enter the U.S. Reed speaks to Ed Bradley for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 11 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Reed says all the U.S. taxpayer is getting for the money spent to secure the border is "a good story," he tells Bradley. "[We] do not have a secure border." The "story" has been to spend billions to fortify the crossing points near cities and towns where immigrants used to pass fairly freely. The efforts, according to Reed, "Actually encourage more people to enter the country because�we took away the ability of a worker to come into the country and cross back and forth freely," he says. "So they started bringing in their families and actually domiciling in the United States with their entire family because they knew they couldn't go back and forth," Reed says.
The bulk of those illegal migrants crossing into the U.S. since the fortifications began 12 years ago are forced to do it through remote deserts and mountains where so many are dying each year -- more than 20 percent of them women and children. The morgue in Tucson, Ariz., has been so inundated with bodies of migrants, it had to rent a refrigerated truck to hold an extra 60 corpses.
Fortifications consist of tightened security at checkpoints and the construction of high walls and fences along certain portions of the 2,000-mile border. Recent fears of terrorists crossing over have fueled bipartisan votes in Congress for more money to secure the borders. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) says we should build fences along the entire border, no matter the cost. "You have to secure your borders�.Billions more [should be spent]�.It's our job. It is what the federal government should be doing," he tells Bradley.
But there have been no confirmed cases of terrorists caught crossing the Mexican border. And many believe the jobs in the U.S., which the migrants can obtain with little difficulty, will always attract illegal migrants, no matter what measures are taken. "They earn more in an hour of work than they could in an entire day in Mexico�," says Wayne Cornelius, an authority on immigration from the University of California. "We're sending them a very mixed message�'If you can get past the obstacle course at the border, you're essentially home free,'" says Cornelius. "'You have pretty much unrestricted access to our labor market and there are employers out there eager for your labor,'" he tells Bradley.
Says Reed, "Talk with anybody that may have been arrested out in the desert. They'll tell you, 'I'm just coming here to get a job and you want me for that job.'"