Appearing on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on the day after his Senate testimony, border union president T.J. Bonner repeated his pleas for a crackdown on employers and a single national ID that would specify employment eligibility.
While Bonner’s approach to border issues seems to represent the sincere experience of border agents who take their state boundaries seriously, callers to the program often expressed poisonous opinions about the character of immigrants and the undesirability of their presence. A few callers, however, place their mistrust elsewhere.
The first caller (from Texas) warned that the more border enforcement we have, the more problems we’re likely to see. She suggested more peace observers, because the border patrol "can get away with anything they want to." Bonner replied that 11,000 agents are not enough to patrol 8,000 miles of border. "We need to turn off the employment magnet so that people stop crossing the border," said Bonner.
A Republican caller from Maryland complained that the mayor of Baltimore wants to put trailers in for day workers and her US Senator wants to give more green cards, "So what is the point of border security? They’re going down and they’re getting killed for what? It’s our politicians playing games. They don’t want them here, but yet they bring them here."
"The Democrats can’t control the African Americans anymore. They figure they have them in their pockets, so now they’re using Mexicans." At which point the call was terminated.
Bonner kept his poker face on and highlighted the caller’s concern about the double standard of immigration policy, that, "employers are addicted to illegal alien labor; exploitable, cheap labor; and that has to stop if we are going to gain control of our borders."
In reply to a follow up question by the African-American host of Washington Journal, Bonner explained that Homeland Security structure removed interior enforcement of immigration from border enforcement, so stepping up enforcement on employers within the country is not an option for the border patrol agency, "and that’s part of the problem."
An Independent caller from Vermont suggested that money spent on border enforcement might better be used to subsidize employment opportunities in Mexico.
Bonner first criminalized the problem by noting that from 2 percent to 10 percent of border crossers were criminals. "and some of those are very serious criminals".
"Also, you have massive corruption in those countries. Mexico for example has great natural wealth, but it doesn’t take care of its own people, perhaps because we serve as a pressure release valve for them, and take millions of their citizens and give them jobs, and billions of US dollars go back to Mexico, so there’s no reason for them to take care of their own people. But 95 percent of the wealth in that country is controlled by 17 families. That’s not healthy for their economy. Just pouring money into that problem is not going to solve it."
In response to the moderator, Bonner explained that border agents in the field have good working relations with local law enforcement, but in Washington the fact of that close working relation is minimized, "because it exposes the fallacy of their lie that the border is under control. Anyone who lives along the border knows that is simply not the case."
A Republican caller from Long Island complained that he could not take his lovely daughter to his home town for fear she might be raped by illegals. He was sick and tired of reading about illegals causing crime and would soon have them all deported. While we’re chasing Bin Laden and the Taliban, illegals are committing more crimes per month than the three thousand killed at the World Trade Center.
"Crime by illegal aliens is a serious, serious problem," answered Bonner. Across the country there are fewer than 5,500 criminal investigators said Bonner (referring to Homeland Security?); of those only about 2,000 are "fully trained" in immigration matters and only about 10 percent of those are working on cases.
A caller from North Carolina noted that with the crackdown on suphedrine in the US, methamphetamine production has moved to Mexico where the product is quite pure and harmful. Bonner agreed that meth production has moved south of the border and pointed out that drug interdiction only catches about ten percent of the total traffic.
Fencing is not the answer, said Bonner in reply to the moderator. "Fences slow people down, but if you don’t have the agents in place to get them and send them back," said the labor leader, "it’s pretty ineffective." Bonner recalled catching the same group of people four times in a single 8-hour shift. Until we turn off the employment magnet, "people making $4 per day will continue to come across the border by the millions every year."
From Tallahassee Florida came a suggestion that farming could be further mechanized or prison labor could be put to work in the fields instead of migrant workers, and that would turn off the tap. And why give migrants social services like health care and rental assistance? Bonner thanked the caller for her "very insightful" comments.
A Phoenix caller wanted to know what laws were already on the books to penalize employers and why we weren’t enforcing them. The problem said Bonner is that in order to bust an employer the current law requires proof that the employer knows an employee is illegal, and there are about 100 documents that the employer can accept as proof that the worker is legal. Some bills would narrow the documents to two, but "two is too many" said Bonner as he criticized the McCain-Kennedy plan to provide a database for employment eligibility. What you need is a single document.
A caller from Ohio suggested that next time the Mexican military steps in the USA, a detachment of US Marines should be sent in "to wipe them out." And why not ship all the convicted felons back?
"Well actually we recommended that the US military be sent down to the border on standby to deal with military incursions," said Bonner. But we should not deport alien criminals before they have served their time here, because Mexico will just set them free to cross the border again.