Opinion: Candidate speaks out on border security
By Lt. Col. Ingrid Centurion (Ret.)
Editor's Note: The views expressed in this political opinion or those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Charleston Grit. Candidates wishing to express their own are invited to contribute to this publication.
The two-thousand miles of terrain along our southern border varies from hot, flat deserts to humid swamps, to ice-capped mountains, and none of these hazards deters illegal aliens from attempting to cross in historic numbers.
For my last assignment in the US Army, I was transferred to the Joint Task Force North in El Paso, Texas.
This task force was established in 1989 to support local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to counter the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. In 2004 the mission expanded to include transnational threats. I piloted high-altitude aircraft at night, surveilling the border, using high-tech optics to identify illegals crossing the border and maneuvering Border Patrol agents to intercept them.
This was a challenging mission. The flow of unscreened foreign nationals from all over the world and cartel narcotics was unrelenting. And while my task force strove to improve our ability to detect attempted crossings and transmit that information to agents in the field, it wasn’t nearly enough.
I piloted high-altitude aircraft at night, surveilling the border, using high-tech optics to identify illegals crossing the border and maneuvering Border Patrol agents to intercept them.
The two-thousand miles of terrain along our southern border varies from hot, flat deserts to humid swamps, to ice-capped mountains, and none of these hazards deters illegal aliens from attempting to cross in historic numbers. There are not enough border patrol agents manning the border nor aircraft flying day and night to maintain the surveillance of such a challenging mission, and our citizens are paying the price.
Transnational criminal organizations are the leading driver of the illicit drug trade in the USA, fueling our opioid epidemic. Overdoses from these illicit drugs continue to be the leading cause of deaths among American under the age of 50, contributing to over 70,000 deaths in 2018. This plague of drugs like fentanyl is destroying families and lives in all corners of our nation.
And an open, lightly defended border is an irresistible opportunity for terrorists and other hostile forces, many of whom are eager to partner with the drug traffickers to put American lives at risk.
This is an issue like so many others where our incumbent Republican Representative Nancy Mace has failed to lead.
Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers more than $100 billion a year at the federal, state and local levels. The constant pressure on wages created by a mass influx of low-skilled workers has significantly eroded the economic security of working Americans. Illegal immigration does immense economic harm to the American people, especially those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. In the recent decade, we have experienced the nation’s largest rise in illegal aliens in history, and it is not coincidental that the real wages of low-paid workers in America have declined more than at any other time in history.
Congress’s General Accountability Office report says that between 2011 and 2018, approximately 27,300 aliens were serving sentences for homicide in state prisons. The report also cited criminal aliens as the perpetrators of 5.5 million offenses, including 667,000 drug offenses, 42,000 robberies, 91,000 sex crimes, 81,000 auto thefts, 95,000 weapons offenses, and 213,000 assaults.
Criminal aliens are victimizing Americans on a truly massive scale, killing tens of thousands. Moreover, each criminal alien was arrested an average of seven times. Closer to home, criminal gangs routinely rob, traffic narcotics, and perpetrate extortion across America. Criminal aliens who are protected by sanctuary jurisdictions later rape or murder Americans.
Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers more than $100 billion a year at the federal, state and local levels.
Many of the victims are those who are coerced to cross the border. It is estimated that one third of women being transported illegally by gangs to the United States are sexually assaulted. According to the Boston U.S. Attorney's Office, these gangs frequently use intimidation to recruit new members — typically 14 to 15 years old — in local high schools with sizeable populations of immigrants from Central America. In brief, the best way to protect our communities is to remove these criminals from our midst.
As a member of the U.S. Congress, I will fight for these values: non-citizens who commit crimes should be deported; illegal aliens must be deported; and ICE agents deserve support for doing a necessary and dangerous job.
I oppose any legislation or policy that would aid or abet illegal immigration or encourage illegal aliens to enter America illegally. As President Trump said, they have to go back. We must use economic and diplomatic leverage to encourage the Mexican government to do its job in stemming the tide, as well as work with other countries who contribute to the problem. While we grant thousands of asylum claims because we are a humane people, there are a number of cases of individuals who are in this country illegally and for whom amnesty is unacceptable. We must solve the immigration problems and build a stronger and safer America.
I oppose any legislation or policy that would aid or abet illegal immigration or encourage illegal aliens to enter America illegally.
Controlling illegal immigration requires a balanced approach. The components of deterrence, apprehension and removal need to be strengthened by Congress and the Executive Branch.
This is an issue like so many others where our incumbent Republican Representative Nancy Mace has failed to lead. I never went AWOL in my twenty years serving as an aviator for our country’s military, and I will not go AWOL on this issue. Just as I’ve done my entire life, I’ll lead from the front as a Member of Congress.