On Fox News, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer rightly took President Obama to task for his tragic mismanagement of border security and immigration reform. With the numbers of those attempting to enter the U.S. illegally swelling and matched by more border violence, criminal activity, and public health risks, the president’s answer is to hold out the promise of yet another round of “administrative” amnesty.
Krauthammer is right to raise red flags. More amnesty will be an even more powerful magnet for illegal migration. The fiscal costs associated with administering a massive amnesty are huge, as Heritage analysts discovered when they unpacked the details of the amnesty bill passed in the Senate last year. Furthermore, the resulting “future flows” of illegal migration will drive up the cost of securing the border and make it impossible to restore any credibility to the rule of immigration and workplace enforcement laws.
But Krauthammer’s answer to just secure the border “first” and then give everybody amnesty is not the right answer either.
We know Krauthammer is wrong on this point—because Obama just tried this approach. From the moment the last amnesty bill failed to pass Congress in 2007, the U.S. government has been spending billions on the border—some going to building hundreds of miles of border fence. Yet, after Obama announced an administrative amnesty for alien minors in 2012, the numbers of people coming illegally into the U.S. started to climb again. There were plenty of warning signs the problem was becoming unmanageable. Recently, the numbers exploded, not just with the flood from Central America, but according to at least one news source, other countries as well.
Furthermore, the border is not the only problem. Many individuals unlawfully present in the United States enter legally and overstay their visas.
The “secure the border first” bumper sticker attitude is a dead end, from a practical standpoint of solving the border crisis.
First, Congress and the White House ought to deal with the crisis at hand.
Then what is required is serious feasible, suitable, and acceptable package of reforms that address all aspects of the illegal migration flow. It is time for America to take them seriously rather than lurch back and forth between the polarizing, simplistic, and ineffective of answers of doing nothing, throwing money at the border, and granting amnesty.