Secure the border: What does that mean?

Published on January 7th, 2012

As a part of the resolution of the illegal immigration issue, Presidential candidates tout that they will "secure the border" should they become the next Commander-in-Chief.  For many who don't live near the U.S.-Mexico border, it sounds like a reasonable goal.  However, what do they mean by "secure the border?"

Mitt Romney does not mention securing the border in his 153-page plan entitled, "Believe in America: Mitt Romney's Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth." As a side note, Mitt mentions the word immigration only five times in his plan in the context of how legal immigrants and foreign-born residents are valuable to the workforce, innovation and how immigration regulates business operations.  In a September 2011 speech, Romney stated, “Our country must do a better job of securing its borders and as President, I will,” said Romney in a September 2011 speech. “That means completing construction of a high-tech fence, and investing in adequate manpower and resources.”

Newt Gingrich mentions that he will "control the border." This means that, as President, "if necessary, we would move one-half of the 23,000 Washington-area Department of Homeland Security bureaucrats to the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona borders…This strategy must include round-the-clock drone flights to monitor activity, multi-layer, strategic fencing in urban areas, and vastly improved communication between state and federal authorities."  By definition, control means the power to influence or direct behavior.  On the other hand, secure is defined as to be free from danger or attack, to protect.  There is a degree of difference between controlling the border (regulate the activities at the border) and securing the border (to protect others from the dangers at the border).

Ron Paul states that he would "enforce border security, America should be guarding her own borders and enforcing her own laws instead of policing the world and implementing UN mandates." He does mention that enforcing immigration laws would be a step toward a more secure border.

Michele Bachmann's site restated the current issues with border security.  She stated she would "…ensure our borders are fully secured." In a YouTube ad she elaborated by stating that, as President, she would build a fence and work with the states to help them secure their borders.

Rick Santorum's Presidential website also agrees that we should, "secure our border, …" but does not go into further detail.  However, in a presentation to a Keller, Texas group, Santorum stated that he sponsored a 2006 bill entitled, Border Fences Act which did not make it to the floor of the House or the Senate for a vote.

Rick Perry's site does not mention border security or immigration on his Presidential website as a standalone issue.  However, in a Center Seat Fox News video posted on the website (at 8 minutes, 15 seconds), Rick Perry stated that he would secure the border by, "putting the boots on the ground, put the strategic fencing in place and the aviation assets in the air."

In the search for what the GOP Presidential candidates mean when they say they will "secure the border," I noticed a few interesting points:

  • Most say they will secure the border but none provided specifics on how their strategies will decrease, eliminate or prevent illegal alien border crossings, human smugglers or drug smuggling.  Short of saying how their measures would solve these problems, they could not enumerate the depth of the issues.
  • Newt is very pointed in stating that he will "control the border" in lieu of stating that he would secure the border.  Would he rather control the burglar entering his home or secure his home so the burglar cannot enter?
  • Few candidates posted illegal immigration as an issue on their Presidential websites but will speak of it publicly.  This is perhaps because the candidates did not regard illegal immigration as enough of an issue to warrant to work toward a solution.  On the other hand, the American people see it as a topic worthy of the candidates' attention and continue to make it an issue during debates and on the campaign trail.
  • Some candidates mention building a fence but it is questionable if any have actually seen the border fence.  A picture is worth a 1000 words; take a gander at the border fence pictures after the Perry President reference.

References & resources:

Man climbs over new U.S./Mexico border fence; KFOX14 has picture

Illegal border crossing to USA from Mexico

Picture: http://www.vagabondjourney.com/travelogue/wp-content/uploads/mexico-fence.jpg

The Great Wall of America


Rock-throwing Mexican teen shot by border agent during a drug bust dies after fall

Fence alone can't plug porous border

Arizona’s state-owned Mexico border fence attracts donors from across U.S.

Picture: http://www.bloomberg.com/image/ik6_iL3NSpSg.jpg

McCain, Kyl announce border security plan

Picture: http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/files/entryimages/3286090017_20c3a965bb_b.jpg

A divided view of the border fence

You are donating to :

How much would you like to donate?
$10 $20 $30
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note