The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Research on the U.S. – Mexico border highlights need for governmental transparency

Lately, I have been hearing complaints about how the media refuses to relay accurate, objective, and unbiased information to the public. As a result the public is largely misinformed about important events.

Biased information, however, is not limited to only the media. On the contrary, in the past weeks that I spent on the U.S. – Mexico border, I realized that the transparency of government organizations is nonexistent as well.

Essentially, government organizations, specifically the Border Patrol, are not being open or sincere about their success (or lack thereof) as an organization. There is ultimately an agenda that is pursued by every governmental entity.

The Border Patrol, like other elements of the government, is in a constant quest to legitimize itself and prove to the public their effectiveness. Legitimization, however, comes from convincing the public of the work they are doing not from any actual or tangible efficacy.

While at the Border Patrol sector headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., I was informed that the number one mandated priority of the Border Patrol was the “detection, apprehension and/or deterrence of terrorists and terrorist weapons,” which is also listed on the Customs and Border Protection website. Yet, after a tour, presentation, and constant questioning, I was never answered how many terrorists had been apprehended by the Border Patrol.

The questions about terrorism were only stumbled around and clumsily dodged.

In addition, the number of migrant deaths in the desert was entirely avoided. In large part, the building of walls and the changes in strategy by the Border Patrol have led to an increase in migrant deaths.

Bruce Parks, M.D., director of the Office of the Medical Examiner in Tucson, Ariz., stated that in 2010 alone, there were 230 migrant deaths. Largely, these deaths arise from overexposure to heat or cold in the desert or from dehydration.

Because the migrants are constantly pushed further and further into the most inhospitable parts of the Arizona desert by Border Patrol strategy, they are at greater risk of dying in the desert. Nowhere on the Border Patrol website or in conversations with Border Patrol agents was the number of migrant deaths ever mentioned. The policies implemented by the Border Patrol are causing the deaths of innocent people and need to be changed, corrected and improved.

Migrants will come over the border no matter what sort of deterrent is placed in their way. The deterrent actually puts migrants at serious risk. If the Border Patrol’s intention is to stop migrants from crossing the border then they seriously need to rethink their strategy.

In 2009, the Border Patrol stated on its website that 540,865 migrants were apprehended on the southwestern border. Without the actual number of migrants entering the U.S. illegally from the southwestern border, there is no way of understanding with certainty the effectiveness of the Border Patrol. Despite this obvious fact, the Border Patrol “estimates” the number of illegal entries in correlation with their data. If the migrants are entering the United States undetected then clearly there is no way of actually proving how well the Border Patrol does its job.

In light of the Wikileaks debacle, no matter one’s opinion on that organization’s actions, the government could use more accountability to the public instead of agenda-pursuing. The last thing that the United States needs is less certainty about the facts, especially in the face of crisis that the border finds itself in.

Michael Dearman is first year philosophy and history major. He participated in the Student Leadership Initiative research class on the U.S.-Mexico border. Dearman can be reached for comments or questions at [email protected].

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