Falling down on the job: The president, Congress must find ways to better secure U.S. borders
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 18, 2012 | 3255 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The scene on Highway 78 West and Beck Road where the shooter was shot to death by police on Saturday. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
The scene on Highway 78 West and Beck Road where the shooter was shot to death by police on Saturday. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
For almost two years, this space has criticized Alabama’s misplaced attempts at making life hard for illegal immigrants in this state. The state’s HB56 squanders scarce resources, legalizes bigotry, drags the state’s reputation through the mud and involves state government in an arena where it has few duties.

On the last point, the chore of border enforcement primarily belongs to the federal government. The feds guard the nation’s international borders. Federal agencies are charged with rounding up those in the nation illegally. Their duties and the money to do them are the responsibility of Washington’s leaders, who set policy and fund budgets.

As the case of Romero Roberto Moya illustrates, our leaders are falling down on the job.

On Saturday, Moya shot and killed three of his brothers in a Cleburne County trailer park, according to authorities. He also shot his 19-month-old son, who is hospitalized in Atlanta, and a Heflin police officer, who is recovering from his wounds.

Moya led authorities on a car chase through Cleburne and Calhoun counties, endangering the lives of countless people. The chase and Moya’s life ended when police shot and killed the man in the Coldwater community west of Oxford.

Eight months earlier, Moya completed a one-year sentence on a cocaine-trafficking charge and was promptly deported to Mexico by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Bryan Cox, an ICE public affairs officer, told The Star Monday that Moya “came back to the country illegally” sometime between April and this month.

Finger-pointing in this deadly case is not productive. Neither is producing overheated stereotypes. As we’ve witnessed so recently, the nation has its own share of homegrown killers. It’s a mistake to assume all illegal immigrants are prone to the sort of violence Moya inflicted. In fact, the evidence points to the exact opposite — most of the nation’s undocumented residents work hard, lead quiet lives and follow local and state laws.

However, Moya’s case is one example of a larger problem. With a porous southern U.S. border, it’s difficult to prevent violent criminals from entering the country. President Barack Obama was correct earlier this year when he directed immigration authorities to stop hunting down law-abiding young illegal immigrants who came to the nation as small children. At least in theory, that move should allow ICE officials to concentrate on catching and deporting illegal immigrants like Moya, felons who are a danger to society.

Of course, Moya was deported. Yet, he found a way back to Alabama, meaning that more work remains to better secure U.S. borders.

The ultimate responsibility for this falls to the president and Congress. Workable answers to this problem have been kept down by partisan in-fighting. Romero Roberto Moya’s list of victims reminds us that Washington’s stalemate is getting us nowhere.
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