America is a country of immigrants. Generations of pioneers flocked to our continent and helped build our nation into what it is today. Millions of foreign born citizens left their homes to carve out their piece of the American dream – and they did it legally. And yet today almost 12 million individuals have set up residence in the U.S. by circumventing our laws.
There have been many proposals on how to deal with these “uninvited guests,” and to prevent more from coming. Recently, a failed Senate plan would have allowed illegal immigrants to pay a $5,000 fine to begin the road to citizenship. First and foremost, this is “Amnesty” and “Amnesty” will not work. These individuals broke the law and need to be held accountable, not rewarded. Furthermore, many of the laws we need to remedy this situation are already on the books. These laws need to be enforced, while taking additional steps to secure our borders and deter future illegal immigration.
The days of catch and release are over. About a year and a half ago, the south Texas town of Del Rio began apprehending, prosecuting, and briefly jailing illegal immigrants instead of returning them to Mexico. No new laws needed to be passed, the town just started enforcing the laws already in place – and it worked. The first part of this year yielded a 57 percent drop in arrests.
Controlling the 2,000 miles on our southern border alone is a monumental task – one that must be completed by intertwining physical and virtual fences. About a year ago 800 miles of border fence was authorized to be constructed, however as of today only 14 miles have been completed. It is troubling to think that a county that landed a man on the moon more than forty years ago is unable to create a fence at a faster pace than a mile a month. This year, House Democrats withheld much of the needed funding for “further review,” but we must move at a faster pace before we can consider looking at the 12 million illegal immigrants already here. Additionally, we need to utilize motion detectors, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), cameras and sensors to help our border agents patrol the entire border.
Illegal immigrants come to the U.S. in search of illegal employment. One of the most powerful tools in deterring them in the first place, is simply to prevent employers from illegally hiring them. We need to establish an Employer Verification System (EVS) that will end this practice. President Clinton employed a system to allow the federal government to block federal contractors from receiving government contracts who knowingly employ illegal aliens. Unfortunately, this turned out to be nothing more than politics and only required government agencies to “consider” debarring such firms. We need a system that has teeth, and will successfully deter the illegal immigrant workforce.
America can no longer turn the other cheek and allow illegal immigrants to run ruff-shod over our borders, our laws and our nation. This is not just an issue of socio-economics, but of national security as well. As the smuggling of illegal immigrants continues, so does the prospect of dangerous terrorists crossing our borders. We have stepped up border patrols and technology, but this is still not enough. Only by showing that we have the will to enforce our laws, deter the illegal immigrants and truly secure our borders will we have the security our nation deserves.