Just do it.
Build the damn fence already, and start deporting people who don’t have permission to be here every time they come into contact with any governmental entity, federal, State or local. Get the E-Verify system up and running, and enact draconian penalties for people employing illegals. This, of course, would require operation of the Congress. The fence has been authorized for decades, but the appropriations to build it have not been forthcoming– just one of the many examples of the Democrats not playing nice about this. Hopefully that can be corrected if the Republicans take the Senate in November, to some extent at least. Much harder will be giving our law enforcement personnel some reasonable laws to enforce. Congress will have to speak, and give the States permission to enforce immigration law. Mr. Obama hates the very idea, so he’ll have to be maneuvered around; possibly by attaching such a rider to a bill he doesn’t want to veto. Frankly, the President’s chances of getting immigration legislation he likes through the Congress has two chances, fat and slim. John Boehner has the right of it; the House isn’t going to sign on to anything until they see the President start actually enforcing the law we now have. The President and his Attorney General allege they are exercising “prosecutorial discretion” by not deporting the miscreants they can catch; it’s time to remove such discretion from their hands. The Congress needs to speak to this, either through legislation or by defunding the appropriate department until such time as they are willing to enforce the law. Another thing we might consider is making citizenship conditional for the first 5 or 10 years on not accepting any government assistance. That’s already the law (not becoming a public charge), and it needs to be enforced.
It will, unfortunately, not be possible to make our southern border airtight. It would also be foolish to try, if we could, because making one border tight only invites penetration from other directions. I’m not a professional military man by any stretch, but there are some published data. Our border with Mexico is nearly 2000 miles long. Even in a non-combat situation, there’s a limit to how far apart you can spread troops and still control them effectively. Manning a 2000 mile border would take about 70 battalions of infantry, plus another 25 or 30 in reserve behind them, not to mention air and vehicle and supply assets, etc. It would also be nice to have another, separate, force of about the same size so you could rotate them in and out of duty, not to mention enough military to handle anything else that might come up while our 70 battalions were guarding the border. The current planned strength of the US army in total, following the Obama downsizing scheme– you guys have been watching what Obama is doing to the Pentagon, right?– is going to be somewhere near 66 infantry battalions of all types ( including air assault, airborne, leg infantry and Stryker teams, but not counting armored battalions, or air squadrons and the like). Same story on land mines, for those who think using them is a good idea. Ideally in flat, open terrain you’d want about 5 land mines per meter of front to make an effective barrier about 15 meters wide on the foreign side of the fence. That’s a mere 19.5 million mines for the entire length of the border, call it 20 mil. The cheapest kind (you wouldn’t use all the same kind, but I’m cutting the budget some slack here) cost about 5 bucks each plus, just guessing, the same amount to emplace. So you’re looking at about a quarter of a billion dollars for such a minefield. It would also take a decade to lay, running mines in a belt 15M wide and 3900kM long is a big job. Therefore, I say airtight security simply isn’t going to happen.
Since it’s not going to happen, then, what we need to do is find another way. And that means enforcing the law. When you catch people breaking immigration laws, there’s no need to mollycoddle them with nice air conditioned jails. Put ’em on a chain gang and let them drain swamps and build roads while they’re waiting for their hearing. Anybody who didn’t like that could waive their right to a hearing by pleading guilty and agreeing to immediate deportation. I know, I know, that’s wishful thinking. Congress would have to act. But then, they need to do that anyway.