Last week’s startling immigration news was not President Trump’s alleged vulgar characterization of certain countries of origin. It was the release of data showing a resurgence of illegal immigration. A New York Times article reported “After Pause, Migrants Are Surging Into U.S. At the Southern Border.”
There is simply no excuse for allowing the southern border to remain unsecured. Yet, successive presidents and Congresses have done so. If any issue was central to Donald Trump’s election, it was a commitment finally to secure the border. It is a position deserving of full Congressional support.
That means giving the administration all the funds that it has requested of Congress — everything — to build the wall, to install the latest security technology, to expand the ranks of border agents dramatically, to double or triple detention facilities so that no one apprehended at the border need be released, to hire many more immigration court judges so that the ever-increasing colossal backlog of cases can be resolved and reduced, to implement biometric identification and tracking systems to prevent visa overstays.
To deny funds to secure the border is to advocate illegal immigration. The record of the last quarter century and the current resurgence show that half-measures simply do not work.
We can debate legal immigration policy. We can debate policy for illegal immigrants already here. However, there’s simply no case to be made for a porous border and ineffectual measures to halt illegal immigration.
Congressional Republicans and the president should stand firm on these demands in return for any deal on Dreamers, the 800,000 illegal immigrants brought to this country as children by their parents. If the Democrats want to shut down the government in favor of illegal immigration, let them go to the polls next November and run on that record.
If Democrats want to advocate for open-borders, let them. If they want to posture as security experts and opine that the wall is unnecessary or ineffectual, let them. If they want to argue that there are better uses for the funds requested and required, let them. If they want to assure the American public that no terrorists are among the tens of thousands crossing the border each month, let them. If they want to ignore the drug cartels that are bringing enormous volumes of heroin across the border to fuel the opioid crisis which is killing more Americans than gunshot wounds, let them.
While Democrats denied President Trump the fundamental respect of attending his inauguration and according him the traditional honeymoon extended to all new presidents, the new president’s immigration policy commanded tremendous respect where it counted, i.e. south of the border. In the first months of his administration, apprehensions (and, by extension, attempted crossings) plummeted drastically, as The New York Times reported in a July 2017 article entitled “Fearful Immigrants Stop Short of the U.S. Border.”
The Times article last July related that “Migrant smugglers in Honduras say their business has dried up since Mr. Trump took office. Marcos, a migrant smuggler based near San Pedro Sula, said that last year (2016) he had taken one or two groups each month from Honduras to the U.S. border. Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, however, he has had only one client. Marcos said ‘People think he’s going to kick everyone out of the country. Almost no one is going.’ “
The Times article last week reported that the deterrent effect of Trump’s tough talk and enhanced enforcement has worn off in the absence of the tens of thousands of border agents the president wants to hire, but hasn’t, because “Congress has still not provided funding.” The article referred also to the “ever-growing immigration court backlog” (currently 650,000 up from about 520,000 in late 2016) and “detention centers so full” that the administration has been forced to resume the Obama administration’s “catch and release” policy.
Indeed, while monthly apprehensions on the southwest border plummeted to the lowest in five years during the first eight months under Mr. Trump — an average of 23,000 — they have soared in the past three months reaching 40,000 last December, higher than three of the past five Decembers.
The U.S. admits more legal immigrants than any other nation on earth, about 1 million every year, with the support of most Americans. We are divided over what to do with illegal immigrants who are already here.
However, virtually no American supports continued illegal immigration. If Democrats want to deny the president the funding to implement effective border security and visa tracking policies to enforce existing law, let them take their case to the people next November. If Democrats want to be the party of illegal immigration and homeland insecurity, let them.
As appeared in Investor’s Business Daily on Jan. 18, 2018.
Red Jahncke is a nationally recognized columnist, who writes about politics and policy. His columns appear in numerous national publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Hill, Issues & Insights and National Review as well as many Connecticut newspapers.