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Secure Borders and Immigrants

Turns out the federal government has this Border Crossing Information system where it records and plans to keep a record for 15 years of all U.S. citizens' trips into the United States by land, which is the way about three-fourths of border entries into the United States occur.

As Ellen Nakashima notes in her story this morning, the government calls this system "part of a broader effort to guard against terrorist threats." She also notes it can be used in criminal and intelligence investigations. International air passenger data has long been captured this way.

Many reader comments at this hour find this plan an intrusion on freedom and another example of Big Brother running amok. But there are loud dissenters who argue that if you have nothing to hide there is no reason to worry. There are also several posts from folks who think or hope this project will assist in reducing the illegal immigrant population.

We'll start with bdunn1, who asked, "Why would anyone in their right mind believe that after 15 years the data will disappear?"

merganser suggested that "Perhaps some of the now jobless illegals due to economic downturn can start businesses helping American citizens sneak over the border."

But rcc_2000 said, "...this does not seem at all unreasonable," but then added a second post saying, "My only fear is that somehow the Bush and, heaven forbid, McCain administrations would somehow bastardize it and abuse it... And the laptop thing is way overstepping our rights."

FloridaCitizen was one of several who expressed this sentiment in writing, "Good! It's about time.....if you are not doing something illegal, who cares!"

But harkadahl said, "...The irony of Americans robotically repeating the mantra "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide" - the words lifted almost verbatim from the official Soviet justification - is lost on the majority of people; most of all... it is lost on breast-beating, gun fondlin', freedom lovin', Commie hatin' redneck Republicans. My sides split..."

SaucySauce wrote, "...Let's all say the enabling lie together now: "If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about!"... all ordinary Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, and others, should be deeply worried by the creeping invasion of basic liberties."

Bob22003 said, "My neighborhood is overrun with illegal "immigrants," who are greatly devaluing my quality of life and influencing the political system even though they are not citizens. And my government is tracking my border crossings. Great. Another brilliant idea from the mis-administration of George W. Bush..."

walkerbert wrote, "I support the idea for the simple reason that it'll be a good crime fighting tool on the US/Mexico border. Maybe not as effective as, say, actually just CLOSING the border... but if it'll help fight money laundering and things like Iranians buying up war toys at surplus auctions and stuff like that, I'm all for it..."

cleancut77 asked, "Why is it so easy for the gov't to monitor US Citizens but they claim they can't track and deport illegals?"

However, timscanlon said, "I feel safer from terrorists than I do from DHS. Terrorist just want to blow me up, DHS keeps taking my rights away..."

And dgloo wrote, "Those who would give up their liberty to gain some security deserve neither."

odin966 said, "It always amazes me that the party of "smaller government" comes up with the most intrusive, overreaching, bureaucratic and expensive plans to intrude on citizens' lives... There is still an open period for public comment. -- Now is the time to speak up! -- Go to the link and let them know about it!..."

maynardtkrebs wrote, "Dossier, dossier, dossier, the life blood of any police state's bureaucracy. As if bureaucrats could figure anything out as the papers shuffle... Information is power- absolute information is absolute power. It would only be fair if the citizens had access to the police bureaucrat's personal information- all 20 million of them."

We'll close with whizkidz1 who said, "...I have to agree with George Carlin, we elect the government that we have, and the reason it is stupid, dishonest, incompetent and worthless is because they come from a society of like minded souls."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  August 20, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Intelligence  
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Why is immigration going after legal immigrants who were arrested not convicted for misdemeanors?

Posted by: Dreads | August 20, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about!"...

Applying that argument, if I'm doing nothing wrong, DHS doesn't need to monitor me.

Posted by: grunk | August 20, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Let's put a bug in every house in America! If you're not doing anything illegal then there is no reason to worry.

Posted by: Noel Verzosa | August 20, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Scary! To those idiots who state that if one hasn't done anything wrong one has nothing to fear, are you agreeable to having the government search your home at any time for any or no reason? What short sighted fools. Is there nobody left interested in protecting our late, great Constitution? In the short space of eight years, the US has been transformed into a nation of losers. Bah!

Posted by: William B. | August 20, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

My question is just procedural, regarding the RFID chips that are included in recently issued passports and driver's licenses.
A lot of people still have older driver's licenses and/or passports, which were issued before RFID chips were included; these documents aren't due to expire for several more years in many cases.
Will people in this situation have to get new passports and driver's licenses with the RFID chip, in order to cross the border in June 2009 and after? or can their current documents suffice until they would expire anyway, and then be replaced by documents with the RFID chip?
If millions of people have to have their currently valid documents replaced with new ones before June 2009, it's going to cause enormous backlogs at passport offices and DMV offices.
Please clarify this situation.

Posted by: beth | August 20, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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