Op-ed: Let's Make a Deal - Mexico Institute in the News

Jul 08, 2013
By

The New York Times

Senators have been working on a plan for ages. (“What is the rush?” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas demanded during the final debate. The listening world said hahahaha.) As things moved along, the path to citizenship got longer while the border security section got tougher. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, one of the bipartisan Gang of Eight that brokered the deal, was continually peeling off to tell some TV interviewer that there had to be way, way more on the security front. Rubio was an excellent example of the problems you are going to have when you invite a presidential hopeful to join your gang.

More compromise was in order! So the bill came out of the Judiciary Committee with a 13-year path to citizenship and 3,500 additional border protection officers. Then it went to the full Senate, where the sponsors agreed to add on another 20,000 border agents and expand the wall-like border fence to 700 miles. Price tag: $30 billion.

“It’s a huge, huge buildup,” said Chris Wilson, an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “We doubled the border patrol in the 1990s. We doubled it again in the first decade of the century. Now we’re considering doubling it again.”

It is certainly true that the more border patrol agents you assign, the more people you catch trying to cross the border. It is also true that the more agents you assign, the less payoff you get for each additional federal employee. Right now in the area around El Paso, Wilson said, “it’s around three-and-a-half apprehensions per agent per year.”

Sooner or later, we will eliminate illegal crossings completely, thanks to the roughly six million agents we will employ to stand holding hands across the length of the border, around the clock.

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