The Wall Street Journal today editorializes against the recycled “border security first” talking points emanating from some conservatives who are intent to attack the progress and momentum behind immigration reform legislation in the U.S. Senate.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
This is a leadership moment for the true backers of immigration reform. The provisions in the Senate legislation represent a carefully balanced ‘both/and’ compromise that combines enhanced border security and employment verification with a long but achievable path to citizenship and legal immigration modernization. Up until today, we’ve had a default ‘border security- first and enforcement-only’ strategy for the past two decades and it hasn’t delivered us a sensible and workable immigration system because it hasn’t included the other elements of sensible reform. Changes to this delicate balance will undermine both the bill’s policy goals and political support.
In an editorial titled, “Border Security Reality Check,” the Journal recaps the unprecedented resources already allocated for the border and the additional amounts dedicated to security in the bipartisan Senate bill; cites security metrics that demonstrate the substantial progress already attained; and calls out the border critics’ true motivations – using this worn rationale as an excuse for trying to scuttle immigration reform:
The Journal on border resources:
If this year’s immigration debate sounds familiar, that’s because so many of the arguments are leftovers. Take the demand from opponents that the U.S. must first ‘secure the border’ before reform can pass. The reality is that the U.S. already spends vast sums on a border that is probably as ‘secure’ as it has ever been. The Senate Gang of Eight bill proposes a one-time $4.5 billion fund for border security, which would be on top of the $17 billion the feds already spend each year on Customs and Border Enforcement…All of this is in addition to a massive mobilization since the last border security bill in 2006. The number of border patrol agents has grown to a small army of 21,370, or triple the personnel employed as recently as the Clinton Presidency.
The Journal on metrics demonstrating progress at the border:
Meanwhile, illegal entries nationwide are at four-decade lows. Apprehensions of illegal entrants exceeded 1.1 million in 2005 but by 2012 had fallen by two-thirds to 365,000, the lowest level since 1971 with the exception of 2011, the previous 40-year low. (See nearby chart.) Last year the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined federal data on ‘estimated known illegal entries’ across the Mexican border. The numbers were way down nearly everywhere.
The Journal on the true motivations of “border first” crowd:
One lesson is that we can continue to militarize the border, but at some point it becomes overkill. The Republicans who claim we must ‘secure the border first’ ignore the progress already made because their real goal isn’t border security. It is to use border security as an excuse to kill immigration reform.
- Wall Street Journal Editorial, “Border Security Reality Check”
- January 2013 Center for American Progress Report on Border Metrics: A report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that the border-security requirements included in both the 2006 and 2007 Senate immigration reform bills “have now been met, and in most cases surpassed, by the investment of unprecedented resources in border security efforts.”
- Migration Policy Institute Study on Staggering Spending on Border Enforcement: A study released earlier this year from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) found that nearly $18 billion federal tax dollars were spent on immigration enforcement just in 2012 – a figure greater than the amount spent on every other federal law enforcement agency combined.