Border Security and Immigration Reform - Two Separate Issues that Must be Linked
It is clear that border security and immigration reform are two separate issues. Yet the two must be linked together as we try to develop a responsible solution to both of these problems facing our nation. Today, in Houston, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is visiting to make a speech about border security and the job her department is doing. It is interesting that she chose Houston as the place to deliver this. Texans have been hammering her about border security from the day she took office.
The truth is, and we must acknowledge this, the border between the U.S. and Mexico is more secure now than it has ever been. One of the few good things the Obama Administration has done is to increase security along the border. Is it "secure"? Few Texans, especially those living in South Texas, would say yes. But it is more secure. However, we still must continue to press the federal government to do more and to be more effective.
Yet, securing the border without fixing our broken immigration system is creating new problems of its own. The increased border security has turned human smuggling and human trafficking into an even larger cash cow for the drug cartels. Not only are they charging more to smuggle people into our country, especially from places other than Mexico and South America, they can use them to haul their drug cargo at the same time. A "slave labor" market if you will.
The difficulty in crossing the border has led to increased lawlessness in our nation. There is more corruption in law enforcement and administration because of the increased pressure of drug cartel money. But there is another unintended consequence of tighter borders - undocumented immigrants are indirectly encouraged to stay longer and to bring their families with them.
A guest worker program would help address this unintended consequence. If these workers were properly identified and documented, they would be free to travel back and forth to their home country as work plays out. This would let them keep their families at home and reduce the burden on taxpayers of education and healthcare. It would reduce the human rights abuses of these people who want to come here to work as they would no longer have to deal with the drug cartels and harsh conditions of sneaking into our country.
It would also reduce the abuse of workers by unethical companies who often work them at sub-standard wages, don't pay overtime, don't withhold taxes and child support and who don't provide workman's comp coverage, which increases taxpayer exposure for healthcare for work related injuries.
Many take the position of "we must secure the border first." This is a short sided position as it allows the lawlessness along our border to continue. It also is a national security risk as we are doing nothing to identify the existing undocumented aliens who travel freely about our country.
We are a smart enough group of people to address two problems at once. We cannot reform immigration without securing the border because those who don't qualify under a new program would still come here illegally. But we also cannot simply secure the border without reforming immigration as this creates the costly and abusive problems talked about above.
Senator Rand Paul told Sean Hannity that we should seek a "trust but verify" solution with our government. Sen. Paul is taking an aggressive stand on moving immigration reform forward along with border security. Take a look at his plan and let him know your support.
"Republicans need to become parents of a new future with Latino voters or we will need to resign ourselves to permanent minority status. The Republican Party has insisted for years that we stand for freedom and family values. I am most proud of my party when it stands for both. The vast majority of Latino voters agree with us on these issues but Republicans have pushed them away with harsh rhetoric over immigration." - Rand Paul
There is a lack of trust that must be healed as we move forward. An immigration reform/border security combined solution could put measurable requirements on Homeland Security to continue securing the border and to force them to carry out the new programs as they come into practice.
After the Reagan amnesty, we went to sleep and did not monitor our government's commitment to verify employees that are eligible to work. We allowed this problem to be created through our own complacency and perhaps the greed of cheap labor. We are asleep no more, and the companies seeking "cheap labor" are on notice that we will not tolerate their misclassification and abuse of workers. Texas laws need to be made tougher on employers who abuse workers, but we must also be ready to supply legally documented workers to meed the labor demands of industry and agriculture.
We can and must do both. Immigration reform and border security should both be addressed and it should be done this year. We cannot afford to wait and we cannot continue the de facto amnesty that is currently in place because of blind opposition to immigration reform.