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Sunday, January 20, 2008

What part of illegal is so hard to understand?

I've long maintained that I have a huge love for the Mexican culture. Mexican food, the Spanish language, Mexican guitar music while drinking Corona beer on a Saturday night, listening to the coyotes yipping in the distance across the moonlight across the both the Kansas and Texas prairies.

The influence of Spanish culture on this country can be seen in the number of cities and towns across the United States bearing Spanish names. From Saint Augustine, the nation's oldest settlement predating Jamestown and Plymouth, to Los Angeles, San Antonio, Los Cruses, and so many, many others, the presence of Spanish exploration and settlement of this nation is unarguable.

That being said.

We cannot exist in this nation, as a nation, without the rule of law. We cannot exist as a nation without having some sort of way of securing our national borders and not allowing a steady stream of illegal border crossings, be it the large numbers of people coming into our country and staying, or fugitives fleeing justice to other nations who will not return them TO our nation for justice.

This past week we have seen two incidents that bring this problem back into the national spotlight, and the questions again arise of what to do about securing our borders. In the first case, highly publicized, we have the case of a young Marine, accused of murdering another Marine and burying her body in a fire pit in his back yard, who has become a fugitive from justice and has possibly fled to his native Mexico to escape American authorities.

A wide-ranging manhunt for Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean began last week, after authorities said he fled North Carolina and left behind a note in which he admitted burying the body of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who had accused him of rape. Detectives later found Lauterbach's burned remains in a fire pit in his backyard.

Court documents filed this week by the FBI state Laurean told members of his Marine Corps unit he would flee to Mexico if it appeared he would be found guilty of rape. Laurean's wife also told authorities she believed he would head to Mexico if he was in trouble.

"We strongly suspect, but have not confirmed, that Laurean may be in Mexico," said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko in Washington. "We have a strong working relationship with law enforcement partners in Mexico and we're working with them to locate and apprehend him."

Laurean is a naturalized American citizen with family still living in Mexico, where it is believed he has fled to avoid prosecution in the United States. Mexican policy is that they will not extradite individuals sought outside their borders who are facing the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole. North Carolina, where Laurean is under investigation for the death of fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who is believed to have been pregnant with Lauren's child, does prosecute death penalty cases. Laureans wife, still in North Carolina, is said to be cooperating with the investigation.

This is just one incident. Controversial bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman escaped extradition to Mexico to face charges of illegally apprehending Max Factor heir Andrew Luster to California to serve his sentence for conviction of rape charges in 2003. Mexican law does not permit bounty hunters to enter Mexico and arrest fugitives, but the case of has been dropped by Mexico.

The other incident from this past week involves border enforcement itself, as once again U.S. Border agents have become involved in an incident along the U.S.-Mexican border, this time resulting in the loss of life of one of their agents.

Senior Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar was trying to stop a suspected smuggler who had illegally entered the country from Mexico when he was hit, according to Agent Michael Bernacke, a spokesman for the agency's Yuma sector.

The incident happened in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area about 20 miles west of Yuma at about 9 a.m. Saturday.

Bernacke said Aguilar was trying to place spike strips in the path of a Hummer and a Ford pickup truck on Interstate 8 when the suspected smuggler's vehicle hit and killed him.

Both vehicles fled into Mexico.

The FBI is investigating this situation. Aguilar leaves behind a wife and two children. Mexican authorities are said to be offering their full cooperation into the investigation of the incident. This incident is just one of several that can be found in headlines and newscasts across the country. Not a week passes that there isn't an incident involving illegal immigrants who have been involved in drunk driving accidents, homicides, burglaries, or rape cases, one very bizarre incident includes an illegal in Miami raping a puppy. I don't think this is what liberals have in mind when they say our strength is in our diversity.

We focus so much on Mexican illegals because of the high numbers of them in the United States. According to Census statistics in 2000, the number was around 8 to 11 million. More up to date estimates put the number currently around 18 million. While many argue that these people have come here to make their lives better, the question remains; are they? And what are they contributing to the American economy? The Christian Science Monitor released an article in March of 2007 showing the cost to the American people of illegal immigration. From the lack of taxes paid by illegal workers to their use of public resources, public education, and the like, illegal immigration is creating an artificial burden on the American economy that could be rectified by simply enforcing existing laws regarding the issue OF illegal immigration. Sanctuary cities and states create havens for people who have entered our country and their first act is a violation of the law simply by the manner in which they came into the country. States where immigration laws are being enforced are showing results, but the availability of sanctuary in other places simply displaces them further across our own country instead of giving them reason to go back to their own.

There are many proposals for how to deal with the problem of securing our borders and handling the issue of illegal immigration. One that is circulating the currently comes from actor turned radio talk show host Jerry Doyle, perhaps my personal favorite, which he calls his "legal immigration ten commandments." Another option would to be to adopt laws similar to those IN Mexico, where it is a felony to be an illegal immigrant:

At a time when the Supreme Court and many politicians seek to bring American law in line with foreign legal norms, it's noteworthy that nobody has argued that the U.S. look at how Mexico deals with immigration and what it might teach us about how best to solve our illegal immigration problem. Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:

# in the country legally;
# have the means to sustain themselves economically;
# not destined to be burdens on society;
# of economic and social benefit to society;
# of good character and have no criminal records; and
# contributors to the general well-being of the nation.

The law also ensures that:

# immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;
# foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;
# foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country's internal politics;
# foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;
# foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;
# those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.

Critics and skeptics argue that it's too late to do anything about the illegals currently residing in the States. Personally, I'm not so sure. President Eisenhower authorized the implementation of Operation Wetback in 1954, in which 1.2 million illegals were deported back to their home countries. I'm not so sure we'd have to go to such extreme measures today. If laws currently on the books were enforced, such as prosecuting employers who hire illegals, depriving them of government assistance which was set up for American citizens and NOT for those here illegally, I believe, as do many others, that with no resources, the flow of illegals coming into this country would drop dramatically, and we would see a sort of reverse migration of illegals returning to their own countries of their own accord.

The first step is to start enforcing the existing laws, rather than encouraging people to break them. Then, perhaps, we can get back to kicking back with a nice cold Corona and listening to the soft strumming of a legal Mexican guitar player under a moonlit sky on the Texas prairie while the coyotes yip in the distance...

Once and Always, an American Fighting Man