Ronald H. Landmann: Open borders obviously a bad idea

Recently Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he’s in favor of open borders.

Many other politicians have also spoken favorably about open borders. To me, Kasich and the others obviously haven’t thought the subject through. My perspective is quite different and developed over a 22-year career as a special agent with the U.S. Customs Service and an expert on the issue of smuggling goods into the United States.

The primary role of the U.S. government is to keep U.S. citizens safe within our borders from all enemies both foreign and domestic. Interestingly, we can track a calf from its birth in Canada to its crossing the U.S. border and its entire life here in the U.S. The opposite is true when it comes to humans. We have no idea exactly who’s in the United States or how many people are in the United States. We have no idea how many people who are in the U.S. illegally simply want to work hard and make a good life for themselves, or how many of them came here to commit crimes against our citizens and institutions.

I’m the son of immigrants. My mother emigrated from Denmark and my father emigrated from Germany. They met and married in San Francisco and that’s where I was born. Last October my wife and I had the opportunity to tour Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

During the whole process from disembarking from their ships all the way up to the Immigration Officers desks in the Great Hall the immigrants were being observed for signs of illness or disease.

Why? Because, while the U.S. welcomes immigrants from all over the world, the government didn’t want the immigrants to become an immediate burden on our society. Prospective immigrants who were ill were either sent to a hospital to recuperate or returned to the country they came from. It was an emotional experience for me to see where my parents legally entered the United States.

Fast forward 30 years from when my parents passed through Ellis Island and I became a special agent with the Customs Service. My skill sets led me to work mostly on counter narcotics smuggling investigations.

One of the things you learn working border issues is: It’s not the commodity that’s important, it’s the smuggling route. Smuggling a 120-pound person is the same as smuggling 120 pounds of marijuana which is the same as smuggling 120 pounds of cocaine which is the same as smuggling 120 pounds of heroin which is the same as smuggling 120 pounds of suitcase thermonuclear weapons which is the same as smuggling 120 pounds of fake prescription drugs and on and on and on. Physical borders make it harder for the smugglers to enter their illegal goods or persons into our country. It’s just that simple.

So why is an “open border” a bad idea? First, we, the United States, have eradicated many diseases. Other countries haven’t. Due to modern travel, a sick individual can spread disease around the country in a matter of hours, let alone a number of days. Watch as the flu spreads coast to coast each flu season and you get the idea. Second, do we really want the mentally ill and criminals from other countries entering our country and harming our citizens? I think not. Remember the Mariel boat lift from Cuba in 1980? Castro emptied his prisons and insane asylums and put those people on boats headed to Florida and the rest of the southeast. Predictably, a crime wave occurred that lasted for decades all the while Castro laughed at the United States.

Is there any chance of other countries are dumping their undesirables on the U.S. via the southern border? Of course there is. Is there the slightest chance that organizations or individuals who wish to do the citizenry of the United States harm know that the southern border is the soft underbelly of our nation? Of course they do.

I have a fence around my property. It isn’t there to keep my family within, it’s there to keep unwanted persons out. I also have locks on my doors. Again, it’s not to keep my family locked in, it’s to keep unwanted persons out.

We have vast stretches of land that lack natural definition and require a fence or a wall.

Would I define someone who scales my fence and enters my home as an undocumented guest? No, I’d define them as a burglar, and probably a dead burglar at that. Why are their fences around the Vatican, the White House, and thousands of other notable buildings along with the homes of all of our Congress members and senators and everyone on the Supreme Court, yet it’s un-American to demand a fence or wall across our southern border? No, I don’t understand that one either.

Ronald Landmann was the customs representative to Joint Intra-agency Task Force (West) and the customs representative to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force for the Northwest region.


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