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North Versus South: Border Security Not Created Equal Say Critics

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Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopter pursues suspects on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Courtesy: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopter pursues suspects on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Courtesy: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
 By Stephanie Carroll CarsonContact
June 27, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. - The Senate today is expected to push through the final hurdles of the Immigration Bill. A last minute add-on to the bill is the Hoeven-Corker Amendment, which would increase border security at the Mexican border.

Opponents of the amendment question the effectiveness of border security and what they see as inequality of security between the Canadian and Mexican borders. Quina Weber-Shirk, a member of the American Friends Service Committee, grew up near the Canadian border but saw a stark contrast when she lived in the Southwest earlier this year.

"It was common for my family to go to day trips or, when I was a teenager, to be able to cross the border by myself," she said. "But the past three months I lived in Tucson, Ariz., and there the militarization of the border was really palpable."

The amendment doubles the presence of border patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000 and adds 700 miles of fencing. It also would require employers to verify their employees' right to work in the United States through the E-Verify system, which already is under criticism for inaccuracies.

Additional border security is prompting immigrants to take more dangerous routes. Last year, 171 undocumented migrants died while scaling the mountainous area outside Tucson.

While North Carolina is hundreds of miles from either border, Weber-Shirk said citizens should care about the inclusion of this amendment.

"That's something that all of us, no matter where we live and no matter how close to the borders we are, that's something we should all be aware about," she said, "and make sure that it's happening in accordance to what we believe."

The American Friends Service Committee argues that money on border security would be better spent developing global economic policies that reduce what they call "forced migration" by immigrants looking for a better future for their families. Supporters of the additional security argue there are more people trying to gain access to the United States through its southern border.

More information on the American Friends Service Committee's position on immigration reform is online at afsc.org.

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