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I often talk about the reality of certain issues on my Facebook page and website, including the immigration debate; although, it has little to do with the local sheriff race. There are a few realities in the immigration debate that I fear many Americans do not know or that get lost in all the controversy. I would like to share some of those realities with you all, especially given the current state of affairs on our nation’s southern border.

First of all, in my seven years (2007-14) working as a border patrol agent in the El Cajon Station within the San Diego sector, never did we separate a child from their family. There were times when that family member was charged with a felony, and the child had to be separated. This would be the same if the family member were a U.S. citizen. Even when that happened, we contacted the Mexican Consulate to get in touch with other family members in Mexico prior to the family member being incarcerated in the United States. These were not things we had to think about or consult policy. It was the just the right thing to do

Secondly, much of the Southwest border already has a formidable barrier. In our area of responsibility (AOR) a bollard fence was constructed. It was made of high strength square steel tubing approximately 20 feet high. The top was crowned with angled sheet metal to prevent anyone from using the top as a stable platform. Construction of this bollard fence in our AOR started in 2009 and ended in 2011. It increased the fencing in our AOR from approximately 30 percent to over 70 percent. It was a versatile and imposing structure that I am sure was a fraction of the cost of any suggested “wall.”

Finally, it must be understood that illegal immigrants coming to the border are viewed by the cartels as a commodity to be smuggled – no different than the drugs they are attempting to smuggle at the same time. These days, the human commodity is often just as lucrative as the drugs. In fact, a good portion of the would-be illegal immigrants that come to the border area are recruited or otherwise enticed by the cartels and smugglers.

The cartels and smugglers send recruiters and a means of transportation to small towns and villages throughout Mexico to convince people, who would otherwise not have the means, to go to the border. Sure, there are plenty of illegal immigrants who have family in the U.S. and are trying to to come here for a better life. But it is just not as simple as many in the media want us to believe.

In honor of those who are still serving and who have once again been thrown into the middle of yet another immigration controversy, I conclude with this opinion. I believe there are really only two solutions to our illegal immigration problem with Mexico. One solution would involve the military or some militaristic unit that would take over securing the border. This would be far less expensive and more effective than the current highly trained federal agents and proposed border wall. After all, there are very few international borders in the world that are guarded by a law enforcement branch such as the border patrol. However, this solution would inevitably be ineffective given each country’s economic and cultural attachment to the other.

We only need to look into history, with the separation of Germany and Berlin, to see how ineffective walls and military forces are in separating culturally and economically entangled countries. There are hundreds of thousands of legitimate border-crossers from Mexico into the U.S. every day. These people visit family, go to work and shop.

The only meaningful and long-term solution is to partner with Mexico, particularly in public safety and military. Use our un-corrupted and versatile governmental agencies to help go after the entities that are truly undermining and destroying our country from within – the cartels.

Stephen Hall
Candidate for Chaffee County Sheriff