As discussion of U.S. immigration reform continues, illegal border crossings remain a challenge.
The United States can and should do something about granting a legal path to residency for the 11 million illegal immigrants here.
The debate to that end is under way in Washington.
But at the same time, the nation must continue steps at improving security along the Mexican border.
That is a towering order, considering the border stretches 1,954 miles across mostly remote desert land. The United States has made progress by increasing the number of Border Patrol agents from fewer than 4,000 two decades ago to about 18,500 today, according to the Associated Press. Crews have built about 651 miles of fence, most since 2005. And the Border Patrol is using drones and surveillance cameras to help fill in the gaps.
The massive flow of just a few years ago has slowed, perhaps as a combination of increased security and fewer jobs opportunities have combined to discourage illegal border crossings. Border agents made about 530,000 arrests in San Diego in fiscal 1993, but fewer than 30,000 in 2012.
With determination and luck, however, immigrants can still enter the country illegally through means that are constantly evolving to defeat security.
If U.S. citizens are to accept the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, the nation’s leaders have a responsibility to make good on promises to do everything they can to make the border more secure.
Until Republicans and Democrats work together to that end, the ranks of illegal immigrants will continue to swell.