Up | February 02, 2013
>>> someone who's been chronicling life on the border and across the border , how the border has changed in this period that aaron describes really beginning with 9/11.
>> certainly. it's become a phantasmagorical scene down there. certainly, the drug war has made it an impossible place, but the insecurity to the drug war because of the insecurity. the billions poured into the border and gun control in general leads to a situation of 18 shooting deaths on the border of undocumented immigrants on both sides, by the way, on this side of the border and the mexican side of the border in which border patrol officers have used lethal force in rock throwing incidents, which makes the border like the occupied territories in the middle east . we've seen a place that was always contesteded, always tense, turn into a much, much darker and scarier place. and it's all part of this culture of punitive enforcement really that the emphasis has been purely on that for years and years and years. and for this new legislation, for the debate to start with talking about the first talking point to be more enforcement before we get to a path towards legalization, to me, is really the wrong place to start.
>> okay. but you're talking about the negative sequences, unintended consequences of border build-up. it's pretty obvious i'm sympathetic with that line of reasoning. i do want to play devil's advocate because, look, the flow has declined massively. right? that's probably a combination from the people that i've spoken to of the economic situation and the fact that, yes, if you put $18 billion and doubled the number of border enforcement troops and you make it more and more difficult to cross over , fewer people are going to cross over , right? that's the basic logic. why is it not a success? for years, people said things like, if you build a ten-foot fence, they're going to find an 11-foot ladder. but during this period, in which we have massively increased the amount of enforcement and enforcement mechanism, we have reduced that flow across this border . is this a big policy success?
>> i don't think it's us that have reduced the flow across the border . i think the vast majority of that reduction is basically the economy. when the economy was roaring, people were roaring across the border . and now that the economy has cooled off for the last several years, it's definitely been the opposite. the deterrent -- i will talk to you about deterrents along the border . i wrote a book several years ago about a family that lost three brothers along the border due to a terrible car chase . several people were killed in that accident, including three brothers in michuan, mexico. the remaining members of that family have continued to cross the border in the wake of their brothers' deaths and have done so ever since. deterrence -- the border has always been a scary place. it's scarier now. but if you see the economy start ticking up here again, you will see people start crossing the borders. there are ramps that go over the highest parts of the border . we will never seal a 2,000-mile border today, and much of the technology that was much ballyhooed about sealing the border perfectly, such as the surveillance watch towers that boeing put down there at the cost of a couple billion dollars, couldn't tell the difference ultimately between a cow and a human being . i think, to look elsewhere, if we're going to talk about security.
>> i want to be clear here. i am not in favor of the senate plan which has additional border security and a litmus test before we can have pathway to citizenship, but i do believe we have to continue efforts to strengthen the border . why? for the reason the guest just said, which is as the economy improves, then we may see an uptick in individuals who are crossing the border illegally, and that is not what we want from a good immigration policy that works. we want a process where it's legal. look, we are a nation of immigrants and laws, and we need people to follow our laws, but we need a law that works, and that's why we need comprehensive immigration reform .
>> so one of the things i'd like to ask you is, if this emphasis on border patrols -- so there's been a number of ways in which this enforcement is done, right? doubling our border agents. we now have aerial drones that are going over. we have built a physical fence in a bunch of places. we've also built an electronic fence so called in other places, which has been, as ruben, i think, alluded to very buggy and dysfunctional and kind of a boondoggle in a lot of ways. john mccain has said that there's been real improvements in border security . and asked if it helps the politics of reform. he says, i think it helps a lot. he argues the situation has improved and calls the concern overhyped. and so one thing is there's a political idea here, which is this is the necessary precondition to get reform. my question to you is what is our ideal border look like? if what we're doing now is the wrong thing, what should it look