Putting the border back in the national debate over immigration reform
Comprehensive immigration reform did not always include provisions for sensible border enforcement. Rather, legislators focused solely on interior enforcement. To the extent that the border was mentioned at all, it was in terms of enforcement only. That is, until the STRIVE Act of 2007.Â This was not a coincidence but rather the culmination of the work of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR), along with other partners on the border, who were able to successfully circulate its set of practical recommendations regarding sensible border enforcement to the right law makers.
The Strive Act did not pass but last December, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., restarted the process by introducing his comprehensive immigration reform bill, a bill with an extensive border enforcement section, reflecting the BNHRâ€™s sound principles. Whatever happens to the Gutierrez bill, the BNHR is committed to making sure that the border and its residents are from now on a staple of immigration reform legislation.
Among the BNHRâ€™s recommendations are creating a border review commission to monitor border policies and projects, improving the complaint process at federal agencies at the border, funding oversight projects, requiring human rights training of border agents, encouraging community policing practices, additional resources to target weapons smuggling, drug trafficking and money laundering, increased staffing at the ports of entry, and conducting environmental assessments at the ports of entry. These recommendations are necessary to the quality of life, security and prosperity of border communities. Educating elected officials about these solutions is still a priority of the BNHR on the border and in Washington, D.C.