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La Opinión: Border Patrol Changes Reflect New Reality

Posted: May 09, 2012

Editors of La Opinión write that the new strategy announced by the U.S. Border Patrol reflects a new reality in which we are seeing fewer border crossings of undocumented immigrants.

The new strategy U.S. Border Patrol officials announced yesterday is an unmistakable signal that the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has decreased. This policy adjusts the federal agency to a new reality that many politicians refuse to acknowledge.

The alleged undocumented invasion, which is still being denounced especially in Republican circles, only exists in their minds and those of people they want to scare. Time and again, official numbers have revealed a decrease in border crossings.

This has little to do with the increase in border agents hired in the past few years, or with the electronic surveillance fiasco that to the tune of $1 billion couldn't tell the difference between tumbleweeds and people. 

In reality, the immigration flow is guided by stronger forces, such as the Great Recession in the U.S., which is no longer a jobs magnet, and demographic changes in Mexico that have resulted in an aging population.

An aggressive deportation policy and state laws that make life hard for the undocumented have an unquestionable impact. However, this doesn't compare to the forces of the economy and demographics, which have always regulated the movement of human beings over the border.

Now that border crossings have decreased, Border Patrol will focus on imposing stricter consequences on border crossers, who will be divided into seven categories ranging from the most harmless to criminals. Although the agency said it will rely on intelligence resources for this work, we will see what happens, because Border Patrol hasn't exactly distinguished itself for its humane treatment of detainees.

We think in this context, it would have been appropriate to highlight there will be supervision to prevent the mistreatment of detainees, rather than just fighting corruption. The unresolved case of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, who died after a beating captured on video as he was hit by agents while lying on the floor, is an example of impunity within Border Patrol, something the new policy disregards.

Border Patrol's new policy brings good and bad news. The good news is that the fact that border crossings have decreased can no longer be ignored. This brings us closer to the concept of a secure border, the cornerstone of comprehensive immigration reform. The bad news is that agents will focus on undocumented immigrants individually, and that type of attention has often led to abuse and impunity.

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