- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 15, 2006

Playing games on the border

Before the senators headed home for the midterm campaign season, they did manage to pass a bill that would authorize a 700-mile-long fence along about one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border. With President Bush stating he would sign the Secure Fence Act, I am sure most incumbents left Washington with a smile (“Bush vows to build fence,” Page 1, Thursday).

On the surface, the fence seems like such a good idea — a simple but fundamental start to securing our southern border. But will this really help stop the flow of illegal aliens into our country? Many of the illegal aliens in this country don’t sneak across the border at all. Many tunnel under the border, like we discovered in San Ysidro, Calif., or go around it by boat. Those who do cross the border often enter legally but with falsified documents or they simply overstay their existing visas. Frighteningly, more and more immigrants are paying organized crime syndicates to smuggle them through.

Daunting too is the fact that our southern border’s total length is 1,951 miles, yet we are building a fence of only 700. This whole exercise seems to be nothing more than a red herring, allowing incumbents to campaign on how strong they are on border control. We need comprehensive immigration reform though, not just a partial barrier.

Why do most illegal immigrants come here to begin with? Jobs, of course. They come here for work. So, why not target the workplaces that are hiring them? If the fines and punishment for hiring illegal aliens were severe enough and actually enforced, the attraction would be muted. If no corporations would hire them, the illegal aliens would not risk life and limb to come here any longer.

With the cost for this fence estimated to be between $2 billion and $5 billion, it makes sense to implement the existing immigration labor laws and hiring practices that are already on the books. With CEOs making multimillion-dollar bonuses off the backs of this cheap labor pool, we ought to force their companies to pay the cost of tracking and deporting their illegal hires.

With the tens of billions of dollars that the Department of Homeland Security already throws at this problem every year, doesn’t it make sense for this administration to put aside its pro-big business philosophy for a moment and enforce these workplace rules to make our nation safer? Interestingly, this administration has always strived to have our country viewed as tough and resilient, with a strong moral compass. This fence would surely have the opposite effect. The rest of the world would see a nation that is weak, ineffective, fearful and isolated.

This problem is a complex one involving intricate political and cultural issues and no single answer will solve it completely. That doesn’t mean that there cannot be remedies that are prudent, dignified, humane and cost-effective. Spending billions and billions of our tax dollars to build a giant fence around our country sounds more like a Monty Python skit than a real solution.

CHUCK BONFIG

Havertown, Pa.

A falsified massacre story

Suzanne Field’s Op-Ed, “The Journalist and the jihadi,” (Thursday) was a fitting tribute to the honest, unbiased reporting that separated Daniel Pearl from so many in today’s media.

It is ironic that those attributes of his reporting of the war in Kosovo may have led to his gruesome and barbaric murder in Pakistan. The Wall Street Journal on Dec. 31, 1999, carried Mr. Pearl’s article, “War in Kosovo Was Cruel, Bitter, Savage; Genocide It Wasn’t.” The subtitle of the article that stated, “Tales of Mass Atrocity Arose And Were Passed Along Often With Little Proof,” also went against the anti-Serb hysteria of the mainstream media in this country.

Mr. Pearl exposed as a hoax the purported massacre of 700 Kosovo Albanians at the Trepca mines, which claimed that the victims’ bodies were either incinerated in the mine’s furnaces or thrown down the mine shaft. In his article, Mr. Pearl wrote, “By late summer, stories about a Nazi-like body-disposal facility were so widespread that investigators sent a three-man French gendarmerie team spelunking half a mile down the mine to search for bodies. They found none. Another team analyzed ashes in the furnace. They found no teeth or other signs of burnt bodies.”

Why is this important? Because the Trepca mine massacre story is another example of media disinformation designed to get the American people to take sides in a tragic civil war in Kosovo, a war between the Christian Serbs and Islamic jihadists who now have taken control of the territory and are seeking independence. If independence is granted, Kosovo will become another radical Muslim state in the underbelly of Europe, a mini-Iran, able to freely infiltrate terrorists throughout Europe.

STELLA L. JATRAS

Camp Hill, Pa.

Mischaracterizing Gen. Schoomaker’s remarks

The article “Bush hits Democrats on N. Korea talks,” (Nation, Thursday) mischaracterizes remarks made by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Schoomaker.

The Army, charged with organizing, equipping, training and providing the majority of the ground forces for the joint fight, must constantly plan worst case (greatest possible need) for worldwide requirements for ground forces. I was present at this interview. The general said future troop levels in Iraq are for planning purposes only, not necessarily a forecast for the actual commitment of forces.

“It’s better for me to do that and be able to pull things off the table or to reduce tour lengths than it is to ‘under plan,’” he said. “What we want to do is try to put as much predictability into people’s live as we can, and to anticipate in a way that they’re ready in time to go.”

As always, it is the Defense Department and U.S. Central Command —not the Army — who determine what forces will be deployed. But the Army will always have trained and ready forces available for the call in these uncertain times.

BRIG. GEN. ANTHONY A.

CUCOLO III

Army

Washington

The Studds precedent

The death on Saturday of former Rep. Gerry Studds, Massachusetts Democrat, allows for time to reflect on the lengthy service of a congressman who played a large role in defining environmental awareness and maritime issues (“Gerry Studds, first open gay in House, dies,”Nation, yesterday).

Unfortunately, Mr. Studds’ death also serves as a reminder of one flagrant contradiction.

Indeed, the cries of Democrats calling for the resignation of former Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, for his inappropriate behavior in the recent page scandal were justifiable. However, it is puzzling as to how Mr. Studds was able to escape such intense pressure for his role in the 1983 congressional page sex scandal.

At the time, Mr. Studds referred to his sexual acts with a 17-year-old male page to be “an error in judgment” and a “private relationship.” For this, Mr. Studds received backing from his home district, which re-elected him until his 1997 retirement.

What made one “error in judgment” more acceptable than the other?

MICHAEL WESTER

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, Ohio


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