Arguably, no more important, pressing domestic issue exists today than the crisis on America’s border with Mexico.
In fact, Gallup said the percentage of Americans citing immigration as the nation’s number-one issue surged to 17 percent this month, up from 5 percent in June, to its highest percentage since 2006. Immigration ranked ahead of dissatisfaction with government, the general economy, unemployment/jobs and health care.
The legal, social, economic, security and humanitarian implications of continued illegal immigration and the virtual tidal wave of Central American children pouring across our nation’s southern border can’t be overstated.
As America continues its struggle to answer the question of what to do about illegal immigrants and migrant children who already have entered the country, a greater sense of urgency must be applied to improved border security.
In other words, before we can treat the wounds effectively, we first must stop the bleeding.
Whatever it takes.
A growing number of Americans agree.
A CNN/ORC International survey released on Thursday showed 51 percent of Americans believe forming a plan to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants should be the main focus of immigration policy. Forty-five percent said the top priority should be developing a plan to allow undocumented immigrants who have jobs to become legal residents. That’s a “notable shift” from February when Americans said legal status was more important than border security, 54 to 41 percent, CNN said.
Some important steps have been taken to improve border security in recent years, such as increased manpower within the Border Patrol, but they aren’t sufficient. Each day the southern border remains porous, border-related problems grow larger.
What should be done?
We support any and all steps to seal the border tight, including more fence, more surveillance technology, even more Border Patrol agents, and, yes, a temporary mobilization of National Guard troops ordered by President Obama. Congress also should revisit the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 under which nearly 60,000 Central American children have arrived on our doorstep since last fall. The federal government should seek to partner with state governments on the problem, not simply leave frustrated governors like Rick Perry of Texas to take action on their own. The U.S. should strengthen border dialogue with Mexico and Central American nations (a meeting held Friday at the White House between President Obama and the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador was a positive step).
Simply put, the flow of illegal immigrants and migrant children into the U.S. can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to continue. The federal government must send the strongest signals possible, including to individual states and foreign governments, of the seriousness with which it views this issue.
Prospects for action anytime soon look dim, we acknowledge.
Members of Congress will take the entire month of August off. President Obama, who spent most of last week on a fund-raising trip to California, is counting down the days to his own vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.
“Unfortunately, it looks like we’re on track to do absolutely nothing,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said earlier this week.
Contributing to fading prospects for action on border security is the fact this is an election year. Even though border security shouldn’t be a partisan issue and both Democrats and Republicans should be alarmed at where this current path eventually might lead, the realities of politics appear to be getting in the way.
Still, we can hope.
Enough talk, enough pushing this issue off to another day. Border security needs to become priority number one - not simply in Austin, Texas, but from the White House to the Capitol in Washington.
Does tighter border security answer questions related to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants or the tens of thousands of Central American children already here? No.
Does improved security allow the U.S. to prevent border problems from growing worse, which they absolutely will if the federal government doesn’t meet its responsibilities? Without question, yes.
There will be a cost for securing the border to the extent necessary, but the cost of allowing the border to remain unsecured will be far greater.
— Sioux City (Iowa) Journal