Just Finish the Dang Fence

Why did building the fence along our southern border stop? Instead of building the fence, Barack Obama would rather build a political party of illegal aliens and their supporters. Unless we want to be dealing with immigration problems in perpetuity, the fence must be completed.

In a recent commentary, Sen. Jim DeMint reported,

Four years ago, legislation to build 700-miles of double-layer border fence along the Southern border was supported by then-Sen. Barack Obama and signed into law by President Bush. Yet, only a fraction of that fencing is in place today.

According to staff at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), only 34.3 miles double-layer fencing has been completed along the Southern border.

The lack of double-layer fencing can be traced to a 2007 amendment that eliminated the double-fencing requirement and allowed the DHS the option to put other types of less effective fencing in its place. It was lumped into a massive, omnibus-spending bill that President Bush signed into law on December 26, 2007.

But since President Obama took office, construction on the fence has halted. Apparently the solution then was to use a "virtual fence" by way of drones and sensors. DeMint goes on to say U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Chief Alan Bersin dashed any hopes left for the virtual fence when he called it a "complete failure" during a recent Senate hearing.

Almost everyone supports legal immigration, where we gradually assimilate newcomers into the population. No previous group, however, has had such a large inflow or ease of access to their home country as Mexican immigrants have today. That's because no previous wave of immigrants could walk right into the country. Earlier groups crossed oceans to come here and were assimilated into the culture in a measured way.

The income gap between the U.S. and Mexico is the largest between any two neighboring countries in the world. The Mexican economy does not provide living wages for its growing population, and their solution is to export their poor to our country.

Most Americans clearly want the federal government to get tougher on illegal immigration. While politicians pander for cheap labor and cheap votes, we the taxpayers pick up the tab for their emergency room visits, education, and other social services. When we factor in the increased taxpayer expense and the fraying of the social fabric of our nation, cheap labor is not so cheap after all.

Moreover, today's illegals do not conduct themselves like immigrants of the past. Certainly, many are hard workers. However, they are here against our laws and have little or no interest in learning English or the ways of our culture. Illegals generally come here to find a job, not necessarily to become citizens.

And now they are protesting our generosity in the streets while Mexican President Felipe Calderón denounces Arizona's enforcement of federal law to standing ovations in Congress. While Washington plays politics with border security, the politicians' inaction is leading to increased drug trafficking, human trafficking, and gang activity in the border states.

These brazen attitudes and behaviors are offensive to Americans, and they are why we need the border controlled. This is not about racism. It is about an abuse of our laws and social norms that appalls every ethnic group, especially those waiting in line legally to become citizens.

So far, all efforts to secure the border have failed. Calling up National Guard troops is only a stopgap measure. The Guardsmen will eventually go home. Whatever funding provided this year for border protection may be cut next year, and then we could be right back where we started. We need something tangible. A fence is permanent, and we need to build it.

Other actions need to be taken to control illegal immigration such as a foolproof, biometric identity card for employment and stiff penalties against companies who hire undocumented workers. But those actions can wait. The main solution to our illegal immigration problem begins with controlling the border, and controlling the border starts with building a fence. Sen. DeMint's efforts to finish the fence should be applauded.

Once a fence is in place and we restore order on the border, our ability to handle guest worker programs and related issues becomes possible. Only when the border is truly secure will Americans trust Washington to pass a comprehensive immigration system that works.

We have a proud history of accepting the world's poor in a system designed to provide gradual assimilation of new citizens into our language and culture. We need to control our border and allow that process to happen properly.

Contact Jeff Lukens