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Worrying About A Leaky Roof As A Tsunami Approaches

Living in New Hampshire, all the recent hubbub about small town police chiefs arresting illegal immigrants on charges of trespassing has me pondering the situation. If you are not sure what I am talking about, do a Google search and include the words: New Ipswich, Hudson and illegal and you’ll find all you ever wanted to know about it.

What has me a bit worked up is the fact that our government seems intent on clamping down on trivial issues and letting the important stuff slide. The reason, in case you are not familiar with the situation, that these small town police chiefs have been arresting illegal immigrants on trespassing charges is that they have been not been able to convince the feds to come out and do their job when the cops happen upon illegal immigrants in the normal performance of their duties.

My attention was directed towards this issue lately since I run another web site which is used to sell a modest number of products to a small, very narrowly focused market. We do all of our own product creation and shipping and have used the U.S. Postal Service for all our shipping since our outgoing packages are quite small, and we don’t ship a high volume. Besides, with a post office in just about every town, it is quite convenient.

The vast majority of our orders come from within the U.S., but occasionally we get international orders, and that is where this story ties in with illegal immigration. I bet you were wondering, weren’t you?

When we ship an international order, we are required by the postal service to fill out a special form each time. This form, called a ‘Customs Declaration’ is required even though the only international orders we ship are to Europe and Australia ‘ you know, countries that are long-time friends and allies of the U.S. I mean it’s not like we are shipping items to Afghanistan or Iran.

We were told by our friendly post office personnel that these forms are a new requirement that were mandated since the attack on 9/11/01. The particular version of this form that I have in front of me is dated January, 2004, and it requires that we fill in what the contents of the package are, the weight, approximate value, senders address, addressee and of course, it must be dated and signed — in two places, no less.

I’m not sure what these forms have to do with fighting terrorism, but like so many other things after 9/11/01, ‘fighting terrorism’ makes a great excuse for filling out an extra form or surrendering your fingernail clippers prior to boarding a commercial flight.

It’s not the form, or the fingernail clippers, that have me worked up however. It’s the fact that we are expected to accept things like filling out extra forms to send a small package to England or giving up our nail clippers at the airport while calls from local police to the feds regarding the apprehension of people in this country illegally go unanswered.

Yeah, that’s right. The local police who made calls to the feds after taking illegal immigrants into custody were told that it was not worth their (the feds) time to come out and take custody of the illegals. That’s not an exact quote, but that was the message that was conveyed when these local chiefs called expecting the folks from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to come out and do their job.

So, while I fill out extra forms to send products to Australia and Joe Air Traveler dutifully surrenders his nail clippers at the airport, the feds obviously have better things to do than come out and take custody of people who are in this country illegally.

I’m sure it will be explained away as a manpower or funding shortage, but with all the manpower and billions being poured into our efforts to ‘fight terrorism’ in Iraq, it would be hard for me to believe that we don’t have the resources to fight terrorism right here in the homeland. Compared to what is being poured into the war effort in Iraq, I’m sure the cost for a few thousand extra ICE personnel would pale dramatically in comparison.

Not that I expect much in the way of logic when something is coming from the direction of Washington, D.C., but for heaven’s sake, if you are going to fight terrorism, it seems to me that securing the borders and dealing with illegal immigrants should be rather high on the list of priorities.

Maybe the folks at ICE and USPS who sit around and dream up new forms for us to fill out could better serve their country stationed along the border somewhere with a pair of binoculars. After all, where terrorism is concerned, shouldn’t we be a tad more concerned with who is coming into this country than we are about what is being shipped out?

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