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A False Sense of Border Security
Posted By Arnold Ahlert On June 21, 2013 @ 12:55 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 52 Comments
On Thursday, the Senate reached a tentative deal on border security aimed at encouraging more Republicans to support so-called comprehensive immigration reform. Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) put together a deal with the “Gang of Eight” that calls for 700 miles of new fencing along the Mexican border, a near doubling of Border Patrol agents, and the purchase of aerial drones for additional border policing. Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle accurately describes the real objective behind this effort. “The so-called ‘compromise’ on border security…is a sham meant to give political cover to Republicans who want to vote for amnesty but cannot be seen opposing border security.”
Boyle’s spot-on assessment is burnished by the reality that earlier the same day, the Senate defeated an amendment offered by Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-TX), calling for mandatory border security triggers to be put in place before illegal aliens were granted legal status. The vote was 54-43 to table the effort, with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), all voting to kill the measure outright, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voting to table it. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who may have sensed that he needed to save what little is left of his shredded credibility, broke ranks with the Gang of Eight and supported Cornyn. Yet later in the day, when the aforementioned compromise was reached, Rubio was effusive. “If you look at what’s being proposed here, this is a dramatic expansion and improvement in border security that I hope will allow finally for this legislation to have the support it needs,” he told Fox News.
Nonsense. Moreover, Rubio has a short memory. Seven years ago, Congress passed the “Secure Fence Act of 2006.” It ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “provide for at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors” along 700 specific miles of the almost 2000-mile border dividing the U.S. and Mexico. A year later, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) quietly added a provision to an omnibus appropriations bill essentially eliminating the mandate, “if the (DHS) Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location.” Today, according the Washington Times, only 36 miles of fencing are double-tier, 316 miles are single-tier pedestrian fencing, and another 299 miles are nothing more than vehicle barriers that do not stop people from crossing the border. At least 49 miles have no fencing at all.
What’s to stop Congress from changing the parameters again, once this bill is passed? Absolutely nothing.
The doubling of Border Patrol agents is another sham underscored by reality. In August 2012, 10 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and deportation officers sued the Obama administration, contending that they were forced to choose between enforcing immigration law and getting reprimanded by their superiors, or obeying those superiors and violating the law. “ICE is at a point now where agents are being told to break federal law,” said the agents’ attorney Kris W. Kobach. “They’re pretty much told that any illegal alien under the age of 31 is going to be let go. You can imagine, these law enforcement officers are being put in a horrible position.” The litigation was engendered in large part by the president’s unilateral declaration that allowed any illegal under 30 years of age to avoid deportation and acquire work permits renewable every two years indefinitely.
In April, Federal Judge Reed O’Connor sided with the plaintiffs, noting the the DHS “does not have discretion to refuse to initiate removal proceedings.” But O’Connor further noted the ruling remains incomplete until both the administration and the agents supply him with additional information. Regardless, this case reveals the fatal assumptions behind the idea that more agents equals better border enforcement: that is only true if Border Agents are allowed to do their jobs.
The use of aerial drones to patrol the border is another idea that might look good on paper, but is once again belied by reality. Assuming drones are effective in locating illegals crossing the border, that effectiveness only matters if the information is acted upon in a timely manner–meaning Border Patrol agents or other law enforcement officials must be present to detain the crossers. And again, unless those agents are allowed to enforce the law, drones are irrelevant.
Yet even that may not matter. During her testimony on April 23 before the Gang of Eight Committee, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano told Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) she believes that administration officials can tell law enforcement agents which laws to enforce or ignore. “There are tensions with union leadership, unfortunately, but here’s what I expect as a former federal prosecutor and attorney general, and that is that law enforcement agents will enforce the law in accord with the guidance they’re given from their superiors,” Napolitano contended.
Furthermore, one could make the argument that the use of drones on the border will inevitably involve “mission creep”–if that reality had not already occurred. On Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller not only admitted to Congress that drones have been used for surveillance on U.S. soil, but that the agency has no guidelines or policies to regulate their usage.
All of the above ought to be more than enough to convince Senate Republicans that comprehensive immigration reform is a disaster. Yet there are even more inconvenient realities that this legislation will engender. An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reveals that illegal immigration into the United States would be decreased by a paltry 25 percent compared to the current law. Proponents of the legislation tout the report’s estimate that it would reduce the nation’s deficit by $875 billion over 20 years, completely contradicting a Heritage Foundation Report that estimates amnesty would add $6.3 trillion to the national debt over a longer time frame. Sen. Sessions explains that this is the result of the same kind of accounting gimmicks used to hide the true cost of ObamaCare. In this case, he notes that “eligibility for the most expensive federal benefits was largely delayed outside the 10-year scoring window.”
Yet the most damnable part of the CBO report reveals that Americans on the lower end of the workforce will take a tremendous hit if this bill is passed. “Although the average wage would be lower than under current law over the first dozen years, the minimum wage would keep the wages of some less skilled workers from falling, dampening businesses’ demand for those workers,” the analysis states. That would be lower wages and a dampening demand for American workers. On the other hand, investors and business owners will do quite well. “The rate of return on capital would be higher [than on labor] under the legislation than under current law throughout the next two decades,” says the report. On the “sunny” side, it further notes that average wages will once again begin to increase — in 2025.
Sessions minced no words regarding these realities. “This bill guarantees three things: amnesty, increased welfare costs and lower wages for the U.S. workforce,” he said. “It would be the biggest setback for poor and middle-class Americans of any legislation Congress has considered in decades.”
Yet above all else, the so-called Corker-Hoeven compromise can’t obscure the reality that legalization first, border security second remains the order of the day. The Associated Press confirms that reality. “Under the legislation as drafted, legalization could begin as soon as a security plan was drafted, but a 10-year wait is required for a green card,” it reported. Despite that unambiguousness, Linsey Graham epitomized the fecklessness of Republicans looking for any excuse to support this legislation. “We’re on the verge of doing something dramatic on the border,” Graham told reporters. “What we’re trying to do is put in place measures that to any reasonable person would be an overwhelming effort to secure our border. This is a key moment in the effort to pass the bill.”
A Republican Senate aide who contacted Matthew Boyle has warned Americans what to expect in the upcoming weeks. ”Proponents of the bill have shown they can’t sell the bill without lying about what’s in it,” said the aide. “Now that most of the lies have been exposed, the strategy is to pretend to fix all the problems in the bill with a new magical compromise amendment. The talking points will come out days before anyone gets to see actual legislative text so that the media will sell it while no one has the opportunity to see what it really says. And once we finally see it, we’ll be lucky to have a few hours to read it before senators vote. We saw this with the fiscal cliff, Toomey-Manchin and other terrible bills the Washington Establishment wants to pass. This is the new ‘regular order.’”
It is a “new regular order” with disastrous prospects for our nation. Democrats couldn’t care less, because the tradeoff for them is a permanent majority. Spineless Republicans have deluded themselves into believing that they too will win the hearts and minds of Hispanics.
Again, they have a short memory. In 1984, Ronald Reagan won 37 percent of the Hispanic vote in a landslide victory over Walter Mondale, who got 61 percent of the Hispanic vote. Four years later–and two years after Reagan signed the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform Act granting unambiguous amnesty to 2.7 million illegal aliens, George H.W. Bush got 30 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to 69 percent for Democrat candidate Michael Dukakis.
Yet even more importantly, the other two provisions in the 1986 bill, the same promise of border security and the same promise about cracking down on employers who hired illegals were, and have been, calculatingly ignored. Not enforcing that bill is precisely why there are now 11 million illegals–assuming that’s an accurate number–demanding legalization. And if the CBO’s estimate that 75 percent of illegal crossings won’t be stopped even with the passage of this bill, what then?
Just before the 2008 election, President Obama told his supporters they were “only five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” That Republicans would aid and abet that transformation–even as they more than likely assure their own irrelevancy in the process–is pathetic.
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