Tighten Florida’s porous border

Monday’s arrival of 26 Cubans on a Longboat Key beach is a sobering reminder of the nation’s failed immigration policies and lax border security.

The group, probably dropped from a smuggler’s boat into the chilly Gulf near shore, made no effort to hide or escape. They appear to want jobs and freedom, not trouble. But until they are processed, authorities can only guess.

The State Department considers Cuba a sponsor of terrorism, along with Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The regime, it says, is “strongly anti-American.”

Still, the United States allows Cubans and other unknown immigrants to pour in by the thousands. It actually invites Cubans to come. Most whose feet touch shore are allowed to stay.

This “dry foot” policy lures uncounted numbers to their deaths as they attempt secret passage in makeshift crafts across treacherous water. One woman in Monday’s group told a reporter she hadn’t eaten since Wednesday.

Another security lapse involves the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who, like the Longboat 26, are caught. In a report earlier this year by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, it was revealed that 36 percent of the illegals who were apprehended were released prematurely.

The reason 280,987 unwanted guests were freed was “a lack of personnel, bed space, and funding needed to detain illegal aliens while their immigration status is being adjudicated,” the report said. It concluded that “this presents significant risks due to the inability of [immigration officials] to verify the identity, country of origin, and terrorists or criminal affiliation of many of the aliens being released.”

Tightening patrols on Florida’s long shore will be a challenge, but as long as large groups of foreigners can wade ashore undetected, homeland security exists in name only.

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