How to Fix the Border

In a recent TexasGOPVote article, I proposed that fixing the broken immigration system will require bipartisan legislation involving three main policies: improving border security, adjusting legal immigration to allow for the entry of needed workers, and creating a method for unauthorized immigrants who are already in the US to earn legal status. This article takes a closer look at border security solutions that will benefit US national security and help increase chances of success for further bipartisan immigration legislation.

It is critical to national security and sovereignty that our federal government has operational control over who and what are coming into our country. Bipartisan policy solutions are needed to better prevent future illegal immigration, human trafficking, and the smuggling of illegal goods and narcotics into the US.

Chaos at the border can be alleviated by increasing resources devoted to DHS and its capacity to handle large influxes of migrants. Lawmakers should allot more resources towards:

  • increasing border patrol personnel
  • improving technology and equipment
  • hiring more immigration judge teams
  • building and staffing expanded processing centers at points of entry
  • enhancing physical barriers where requested by CBP
  • constructing humane detention facilities  

The US saw a record 1.7 million official apprehensions of people crossing its southern border illegally in 2021. That does not include an estimated 400,000 “got aways” who border patrol observed crossing illegally but did not apprehend.

A significant portion of the relatively high number of illegal crossings in 2021 can be attributed to the Biden Administration’s removal of migrants through the use of Title 42, a health law that allows the US government to immediately remove migrants who have been in a country where a communicable disease is present.

Because Title 42 expulsions rapidly deport migrants without detaining them, giving them a trial, or charging them with a crime, they lower the penalty for crossing the border illegally. Many people who cross the border illegally and are immediately deported through the use of Title 42 just come back and cross it again. The Biden Administration deported migrants using Title 42 over 1 million times in 2021. Uncoincidentally, 2021 also saw a notably high recidivism rate of up to 38% compared to the rate of 9% in 2019, which means over a third of the people that border patrol apprehended last year, it had already apprehended and deported before.

The Biden Administration has also continued to use Title 42 to block asylum seekers from applying for asylum at ports of entry. As a result, the only way for immigrants to apply for asylum is to cross the border between ports of entry and turn themselves in to border patrol. This undoubtedly places a large strain on border patrol resources and distracts them from carrying out other duties more pertinent to national security.  

The Biden Administration’s defense for using Title 42 as a way to prevent the spread of COVID is not logical because millions of people travel to the US every month from around the world. For these reasons, to help secure the border, the Biden Administration should end its implementation of Title 42 and allow asylum seekers to apply at ports of entry.

Lawmakers should also pass legislation that would allow asylum seekers to apply for asylum in their home countries. While this may not be a viable option for some who face immediate threat of religious or political persecution in their home country, it would certainly help to prevent some of the traffic at the border.

The situation at the border is politically problematic not just for the lawmakers who are in charge of fixing it, but also for the willingness of lawmakers to pass additional needed immigration reforms, like ID and Tax, that would benefit the US economy.

There is no doubt that border security will be a key topic in the upcoming midterm elections. Republican Texas primary candidates are already running commercials and online ads on the topic. Recent failed attempts by Democrats at one party legislation of immigration policies have all but proven that successful immigration reform will require the support of lawmakers in both parties. Incumbent lawmakers stand to benefit politically if they work together to pass bipartisan solutions to secure the border.

A good starting point on border security for lawmakers would be the bicameral Bipartisan Border Solutions Act that includes several of the suggested policies above. Introduced in April 2021 by Texas Lawmakers John CornynTony Gonzales, and Henry Cuellar, and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, this bill could provide a good first step towards bipartisan legislation of additional beneficial immigration policies. A bill that combines this legislation with a solution to provide permanent legal status for DACA recipients may be able to garner enough votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to to break the 30 year impasse on passing immigration reform. 

 

Many people who cross the border illegally in search of economic opportunity do so because there is no viable pathway for them to migrate to the US legally. In a follow up article I will address how adjusting our legal immigration system to allow for the entry of more migrant workers from the Western Hemisphere would improve border security and benefit the economy.  

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