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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Illegal Immigration is not a video game

    Yusra Tekbaliassistant news editor
    Yusra Tekbali
    assistant news editor

    Imagine being able to actively participate in what should be the federal government’s job of securing our border with Mexico, by playing what amounts to a video game, in which illegal immigrants are your target. The more Mexicans you catch trying to smuggle their way into the U.S., the higher your score.

    The sad reality is this game isn’t fantasy, but the latest stab at solving the nation’s immigration crisis. In the beginning of this month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his plan for securing the state’s border with Mexico: an online neighborhood watch system in which Web users can alert authorities any time they spot an illegal immigrant trying to cross it.

    It seems that Texas has been affected by President Bush’s dualistic universe of good vs. evil and has now created its own version of a threatening nemesis by apparently taking hints from a video game.

    Perry’s “”Virtual Border Watch Program,”” which still has to go through the Texas legislature, wants to put surveillance cameras on private farmland all along the Texas-Mexico border. A live video feed will be broadcasted on a Web site available to state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as posted on the Internet so that any concerned American can help patrol the border. Web users will be asked to call an 800-number when they spot an undocumented immigrant.

    Anyone with Internet access can watch the border camera on their computer – your siblings or grandma, the feds or local authorities, drug smugglers or terrorists – all in hopes of catching some illegal activity … at least until the cameras are shot down by angry coyotes or unamused Texans.

    Installing cameras along the Texas-Mexico border will not make it safer. In the doubtful scenario that enough concerned citizens actually call the 800-number, local authorities will be too overwhelmed by the calls they’re getting and their own jobs to stop any serious illegal activity. Moreover, how does one spot an illegal immigrant? The current debate on racial profiling largely concerning Middle Easterners has not been closed, so is it wise for Texas’ government to shift that burden on Mexican-Americans? Under Perry’s plan, racist motives are given a safe haven, and the margin of error is huge.

    Yet, Texas may invest $5 million in installing the cameras around its 1,000-mile border with Mexico, but there are better ways to use that money.

    Six thousand National Guard troops, huge walls and zero-tolerance policies aimed at keeping illegal immigrants on their side of the border, if successful, will only temporarily solve the immigrant crisis. As long as Mexico’s economy isn’t producing decent jobs, immigrants will find a way to leave.

    If Texas is ready to put $5 million towards something as questionable as an online Web camera, it should think twice about Mexico’s small border towns and businesses.

    The argument for the U.S. investing in the future of a developed Mexico, helping it become more capable of providing jobs for its citizens, has had its fair share of controversy; for instance, the North America Free Trade Agreement and its failure to stem illegal immigration for one. And while the plight of figuring out how to build and maintain a solid Mexican economy is of course primarily Mexico’s problem, America’s desire to curb immigration and the impact that immigrants have on its economy provide enough of a reason for America to help Mexico succeed.

    Richard Perry knows this. All politicians know this. Yet their desire to win re-election shouldn’t drive them to create ridiculous solutions that drown out the crux of the Mexican immigration problem. Instead of thinking up the most creative or fun-to-advertise solution to the immigration problem, politicians should rally support that doesn’t deflect from the real reason immigrants risk life and limb to cross the border.

    Yusra Tekbali is a journalism and Near Eastern studies junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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