Rich Tucker

The new fencing channels illegals into areas where they can be easily spotted and apprehended by the Border Patrol and the National Guard. Because, along with the volunteers, these federal agents are critical to ending illegal immigration. And now they’re on the scene.

The Guard “is now doing reconnaissance and reporting crossings on a 24/7/365 basis. That's right, they're out there NON-STOP (no twice-daily 2-hour shift change gaps in coverage) every day including weekends, and have been informed and told us they'll be pulling this duty around the clock until at least 2008.”

That’s also critical, because this isn’t a problem that will go away overnight (although it will go away). We need to make any potential illegals understand that we’re serious about stopping them -- not simply today but next month and next year, too. That way, more people will decide to stay put in Mexico instead of making a run for the border.

At the same time, we should be getting the states more involved. “Authorities along the border are often the first to witness immigration violations and [are] in the best position to stop illegal immigrants who are trying to enter the United States,” the Heritage paper notes. There’s already a provision -- Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act -- that allows local law-enforcement groups to work with federal forces. We simply need to move faster to ensure they’re involved.

And, in order to get more agents on the border quickly, Washington should consider hiring local security companies. That will get human resources in place quickly, without forcing the federal government to spend years recruiting and training thousands of agents.

The border can be secured, without breaking the bank.

My correspondent says his region in California now sports “a double-fence, covered by vigorous patrols and observation, taking advantage of strong citizen involvement, and augmented by deployment of federal troops with state-of-the-art thermal-imaging observation equipment, to assist the vigorous border enforcement by the Border Patrol.”

It’s taken a year, but “together, with teamwork, we've shut this zone down,” he writes.

California’s a bellwether state. Since this layered approach is working there, we know it’ll work elsewhere. Simply sealing the border won’t solve the problem of illegal immigration, but it’s a critical start. It’s time for lawmakers to make it happen.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for