by Patrick Devlin

In the wake of government reporting that reveals that illegal cross border immigration between the US and Mexico is at its lowest level in 40 years voices from both sides of the American political spectrum have responded.

The Democratic administration’s answer to the dramatic reduction in unauthorized border crossings is to implement an increase in military operations on the border, and Republican presidential contenders and state’s legislatures have responded by instituting regulations that are historically analogous to measures enacted by regimes that have been described by our own leaders as totalitarian and threatening to further garrison the 1000 mile southern border of the US.

Last month Customs officials and border patrol agents released statistics that showed that more undocumented workers were deported in 2011 than were arrested. Officials said that this reduction marked the sixth year in a row that border arrests have diminished. Additionally, the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center research group found that approximately two thirds of America’s undocumented aliens have been in the US for more than 10 years.

In spite of the obvious and dramatic reduction in illegal border crossings, the Obama administration has increased the number of unmanned drone surveillance missions on the southern border of the US. This year two additional Predator-B drone spy planes were appropriated in supplemental budget provisions to be deployed along the southern US border. The Predator-B can be equipped with day and night vision cameras and advanced weaponry and can remain aloft for 24 hours recording activity on the ground from heights of up to 25,000 feet. The development of the Predator-B drone program, which is run by the US military in cooperation with the CIA, has cost American taxpayers more than $11 billion and each individual spy drone costs between $4.5 million and $10 million. A spokesperson for the Customs and Border Protection agency acknowledged that the border patrolling drones will operate out of the US military’s National Air Security Operations Centers in Arizona and Texas providing advanced video surveillance “from the eastern tip of California across…Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.”

In a potentially expensive, and certainly illogical in light of the decade long reduction of illegal border crossings, game of one-upmanship, Republican presidential candidates, simultaneously playing upon and inflaming the inchoate fears of jobless Americans, have pledged to the electorate further increases in military deployment and an extension of the 600 mile “border-fence” on America’s southern border. Several candidates have signed a pledge to extend the “border-fence” and all have pledged to “secure” the already secure southern border.

Left largely unmentioned by politicians of both parties in the debate are the stark new realities for working men and women in the US during this second great depression. Half of America’s working aged adults are currently not working, wages have been stagnant or declining for working Americans over the past 30 years, and there is only one job opening available for every four unemployed Americans. In addition, newly implemented laws in states such as Arizona and Alabama that target specific ethnicities wrongly, aggressively and in a bigoted fashion could easily factor into the significant reduction in illegal border crossings into the US. A clearheaded analysis of these factors suggest that America’s problems have less to do with illegal immigrants, much less, and are more a consequence of the failure America’s particular brutal and shortsighted form of laissez faire capitalism that requires the fomentation of bigotries and resentments in those who have been left to fight for scraps in the lower classes by those who have reaped unjustifiable riches.

If the goal were to understand and act upon the historic reduction in illegal border crossings over America’s southern border, these factors would have to be taken into consideration by our policy makers. If, on the other hand, fostering an atmosphere of fear in the electorate that can be capitalized upon politically and that leads to billions of additional mis-allocated tax dollars being given to private military contractors, and encourages the creation of laws and regulations that have a distinct patina of the Stazi are the goals of our policy makers from both political parties, then they are certainly on the right course.