U.S. border policy: Speak with a loud voice, act softly

The neglect of the northern border is an established policy on the part of President Clinton. Even so, the administration’s latest action comes as something of a shock.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has – again – transferred agents and equipment from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. This time, the INS is sending all of its remaining aircraft in the Pacific Northwest, along with their pilots, to the south.

The administration likes to say that it is defending the Northwest. Last fall, the INS promised to halt its transfers of agents from northern states to the Mexican border. President Clinton proclaims his own concern. While referring to the arrest of a terrorist suspect in Port Angeles just before the New Year, the president two months ago announced the installation of high-resolution cameras along the Canadian border. At the announcement, Clinton described the explosives material seized in Port Angeles as the same material used by Osama bin Laden in other terrorist attacks.

Now, however, the INS is turning the proclaimed presidential concern on its head. The agency is using the high-tech equipment as part of its justification for breaking its own promise to stop transferring agents. According to an agency spokesman, the border is being equipped with more video cameras, more lighting and sensors to compensate for the temporary loss of planes and personnel. Hmm, it could almost make one wonder if President Clinton would approve.

Sadly, however, the erosion of border resources here has gone on for so long that it has become, practically speaking, the president’s own policy. Whether Clinton is actively aware of it or not, INS Commissioner Doris Meissner has made transfers from the north a hallmark of his administration’s border policy.

Rep. Jack Metcalf, whose district includes the state’s main border crossings, has led the congressional protests. A Metcalf-initiated letter objecting to the plane removals drew the signatures of the state’s entire congressional delegation.

Upholding immigration and drug laws along the southern border is a serious job. A series of recent exposure deaths among would-be immigrants certainly demands attention, as the INS has noted in explaining its plane transfers.

The answer, however, cannot continually be found in moving resources from the northern border. As Metcalf aide Lew Moore notes, conditions have changed for the worse here. The administration cannot continue acting as if the northern border lies in a "Leave It to Beaver" time warp. The staffing shortages here have been well-documented, both by Congress, the agents’ union and an internal administration study.

Only good work by border agents last December prevented a disastrous terrorist attack. The agents need help and real leadership from the administration, not these endless, dangerous games.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Friday, Jan. 27

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Catherine Berwicks loads ballots into a tray after scanning them at the Snohomish County Elections Ballot Processing Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Everett, Wa.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Editorial: Boot meaningless tax ‘advisory’ measures from ballots

The public needs better transparency on taxes; not an opaque push poll that serves no purpose.

Washington Future Fund
Editorial: Fund could break inequitable cycle of poverty

State version of ‘baby bonds’ would provide capital for low-income young adults’ economic success.

An alleged drunken driver hit a bicyclist and crashed into a Marysville home, killing a 97-year-old woman Saturday. (Marysville Police Department) 20200829
Editorial: Slow roll on changes to state’s police pursuit law

The new law may have resulted in a decrease in fatalities, but more data on its effects are needed.

Schwab: Can this political party be saved? From itself?

Consider the GOP’s current leaders; will it even take two years for voters to have had enough?

‘Lapse’ or not, Providence doctor must be held accountable

I was deeply concerned by Providence Medical Group Chief Medical Officer Stephen… Continue reading

Voting for Marysville school levy helps provide complete education

I am a parent of two wonderful little girls in the Marysville… Continue reading

Remove Shavers, Santos from office over their lies

Republicans and Democrats have no integrity nor honor if they don’t call… Continue reading

Herald’s switch to mail delivery does not serve readers

I am very disappointed with The Herald’s change to deliver of the… Continue reading

Most Read