Illustration by Emily Metcalf
Illustration by Emily Metcalf

By  – Must Washington fix our broken southern border? You bet.

Will the comprehensive immigration reform bill help? You bet it won’t.

The number one flaw of the bill is it starts by giving amnesty to the unlawfully present population in the United States. As soon as the bill passes, those in the country contrary to U.S. immigration law are granted status to stay.

Amnesty immediately creates an incentive for illegal border crossings and overstays. Thus, the bill’s strategy would drive up the cost of securing the border. To make matters worse, the draft law states that anyone who was present in the U.S. before 2012 qualifies—creating massive opportunity for fraud, since there is no proof required that applicants have been here for several years.

While supporters of the bill trumpet its “border security” features, in reality, the law delivers nothing new—other than the promise of spending a lot more money and running up our debt.

The bill trashes fiscal discipline, exploiting “a loophole in the Budget Control Act (BCA) that allows Congress to spend more than allowed under the spending caps adopted in 2011.”

In other words, Washington is willing to draft a bounced check to justify an amnesty bill.

To make matters worse, there is very little likelihood that that Americans will get much for the next border security buck spent.

The Secretary of Homeland Security has repeatedly stated that our borders “have never been more secure.” In the past five years, the White House has never asked for this additional border security funding. Yet, this bill lavishes billions of additional spending on the department with no clear requirements on how the money is spent. At least $2 billion could legitimately be labeled the Secretary’s slush fund.

Supporters of the bill trumpet requirements to “certify” border security, yet its standards are in some ways weaker than existing law. Present law requires gaining “operational control” of the whole border, while this bill sets standards only for “high-risk” sectors. Since smuggling trails shift to where the security is not, even if the standards were attained in one area, the traffic would just go somewhere else.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has been trying unsuccessfully to define credible metrics for border security since 2004. Even if it had effective “triggers,” that does not guarantee a secure border. Border crossing conditions constantly change. Even if the goal is achieved, there is no guarantee it will stay that way.

We can do more to secure our borders. But we don’t need an amnesty bill and bogus border triggers to make our borders safe and sovereign. Nor does Washington need to throw more buckets of money toward border security.

Our government could cooperate more effectively with Mexico and the border states. Congress could modernize our legal immigrant and non-immigrant programs, including effective temporary worker programs. The government could enforce our workplace and immigration laws.

In short, the promise of border security in this case is merely an excuse for a bloated bill that would promise anything to push amnesty, regardless of cost or practicality.

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