That’s San Antonio Express News reporter Todd Bensmann on the skyrocketing cost charged to “aliens of special interest” who want to travel from the Middle East to the U.S. via an illegal crossing of the southern border. I interviewed Bensmann on his important series of articles yesterday. The full transcript is here.
Here is one segment of our interview where we discuss the effects on the price of getting a bad guy from there to here caused by the last year’s crack-down at the border:
HH: Todd Bensman, in the course of investigating this, did anyone raise the possibility that with the right kind of weapon, primarily a dirty bomb, radiological, they don’t even need to get across the border. They’ve just got to drive up to Tijuana, right next to the fence, which I’ve driven on both sides of many times on missions to an orphanage there in Tijuana, and set it off. It will contaminate San Diego. Is there any evidence of a counterterrorism awareness near their border that they’ve got to be concerned about that sort of an attack?
TB: There are surprisingly in depth joint counterterrorism programs between the Mexicans and the Americans that are extensive and very comprehensive all along that border for that purpose. One of things that…another kind of surprise, I don’t want to be alarmist, and I didn’t set out for my stories to be viewed in any way as anything other than sober.
HH: No, that’s the word. They’re not alarmist. They’re very sober.
TB: And one of the things that I found is that the current border crackdown that we’ve seen, and this is without the wall. Just with what the Bush administration has done with the National Guard, and tripling the Border Patrol, et cetera, has had a profound effect already in distant places like Syria and Amman, where I interviewed many refugees are contemplating hiring smugglers to get out of there. And what I’m hearing is you know, we don’t want to go to the U.S. because of the Bush crackdown.
HH: Oh, so market disruption. How interesting.
TB: And I also found the same thing in Guatemala.
HH: Has the price gone up, Todd, because when the price goes up, you know that there’s some disruption going on.
TB: The price has gone sky high for a trip to America.
HH: What is it now?
TB: Well, it ranges between, I think before the crackdown really got underway in earnest, let’s say from a place like Damascus, Syria, which is incidentally a designated state sponsor of terror…
TB: …and harbors known terrorist organizations, and our government considers them bad guys, costs about maybe $8,000 dollars. $7-8,000 dollars, you could pretty easily get on over the Texas border, or the California border.
HH: And now?
TB: Now, you know, I’m hearing prices like $20, $25 and $30,000.
Imagine what the price would be if the fence had already been built.