Editorial - Why Border Security and Immigration Reform Are and Must Be Linked

On the right we hear, "The border must be secured" and on the left we hear, "We must fix our broken immigration system". Both sides are right, but for a wide variety of reasons both are wrong if they will not look at the issues put forward by the other side. Our nation's immigration system is broken and is in strong need of reform to meet the economic needs of our nation.  Our border security is lacking and continues to create a huge national security problem.

First, let's look at the political reality of why one cannot be done without the other. It is simple, Republicans control the House and will not pass immigration reform unless meaningful border security is included and implemented in measurable efforts. Democrats control the Senate and the White House and will not pass border security laws unless there is meaningful immigration reform and a solution to dealing with the people who are in this country illegally either through illegal entry or visa overstays. It is a road block that is keeping our nation from resolving two very difficult and serious problems.

I have been writing about this since 2009 and was working on finding solutions long before that. Yet, during that time we have neither made the border significantly more secure, nor have we done anything about fixing the broken immigration systems. Both sides have their heels dug in and will not budge. In the meantime, potential terrorists move freely across the border and people are abused by human traffickers who have found great business getting around the border security that is in place.

It is interesting to note that in 2009, President Obama and the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. During that time, they could have passed any law they wanted without a single Republican vote. This was proved by the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Yet, despite many promises made to the Hispanic community, not a single bill was passed or even made an issue of by this President. Now it is a different political world than it was in 2009 and both sides need to realize that in order for this problem to be resolved, both sides are going to have to accept something they do not like in order to resolve the issues.

But there is also a practical reason why the two issues should be linked. Solving one side without dealing with the other creates a whole new set of problems. 

Fixing immigration without dealing with border security is like bailing out the boat without fixing the leak. No matter what immigration reform is passed, if the border is not secured, those who do not qualify under new immigration laws will still simply come here illegally. That fixes nothing and actually makes some things much worse.

But securing the border without fixing the broken immigration system is also counterproductive. Increasing security without creating a viable guest worker program and a workable immigration system only increases the demand for illegal human trafficking. It also does nothing to solve the problem of dealing with those who are here illegally and unidentified now. It simply pushes that problem further down the road.

The sensible conclusion is that we must simultaneously and expeditiously deal with meeting the national security needs of our country by securing our borders and finding a sensible solution to dealing with the millions of undocumented people living in this country illegally. And, at the same time, develop an immigration policy that meets the economic needs of our country and deal humanely with those who seek to come here to help improve this country as immigrants have done throughout our history.

Congress needs to quit punting the ball down the road. The federal government must live up to its responsibilities of securing our border and providing a workable immigration program. We are bright and hard working people. We can figure this out and find a solution. Now is the time. Let's get to work.

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