The United States and India: Two Different Approaches to Border Control

[We are indebted to Daniel Greenfield, blogger at Front Page Magazine for his blog posting entitled “Lessons for America From India’s War Against Muslim Illegal Migrants” for much of the following.]

The two largest democracies in the world are India (population,1,350,530,000) and the United States (population, 329,657,000). Each of these countries shares a long border with another country,  one less prosperous and containing many people who would like to join the more prosperous side.

Armed Guards along India-Bangladesh Border

The U.S. border with Mexico is 1,954 miles in length, but India’s border with Bangladesh is even longer, at 2,582 miles.  There are a great many people in Bangladesh, a very poor, largely Muslim society, who would very much like to live in India. There are many people in India who oppose this, and many of them are in the government.

As a consequence, India has adopted policies toward their neighbor that would make the open-borders crowd in this country swoon into a dead faint.

For example, consider India’s defenses.  Their Border Security Force (BSF) employs no fewer than 257,363 people. If it were an army unto itself, it would be one of the largest in the world, larger than those of France, Israel, Germany, Italy, and Japan.  (By comparison, the U.S. Border Patrol employs less than 20,000.)  The BSF consists of 186 battalions, containing an intelligence network, 10 artillery units, an air wing, a marine wing, and canine and camel units.

Moreover, India has been fortifying the border for decades with fences topped with barbed wire and equipped with lights.  The lights are so the guards posted on the fence can see–and shoot–any unauthorized border crosser. They have permission to shoot on sight and are not reluctant to do so, having killed more than a thousand illegal border crossers in the past decade, including recently a teen-aged Bangladeshi girl. Leftist agitators in India attempted to make political hay of that incident, but the Indian government refused to back down or change its policies.

What’s more, the government is currently carrying out a mammoth domestic project of looking at the records of Indian residents to root out those not legally present in the country. Those so identified–estimates range as high as 20 million–will be deported.

These are the kind of measures we are constantly being told are either impossible or simply not “who we are.” If we want to continue being “who we are” and not see ourselves transformed into merely the world’s largest third-world country, we need to summon a will like that of India.

To read Greenfield’s excellent post, see Front Page Magazine.

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