The following is a statement by Marshall Fitz, CAPAF’s Director of Immigration Policy and Advocacy, on Senate passage of supplemental border security spending bill.
The Senate passed an emergency border security funding measure last week and the House plans to take up a related measure today. Congress is following a time-honored Washington tradition by passing again on the heavy lifting needed to fix our immigration system, opting instead to pour more taxpayer money into enforcement and call it a day.
How many times have we seen the rerun that aired again over the last week? Republicans unwilling to debate comprehensive immigration reform hide behind a relentless “border-security-first” mantra. They launch withering, albeit patently false, broadsides against Democrats who they claim are not committed to securing the border. Democrats, fearing the political sting of a “soft-on-security” moniker, perversely try to out-tough their counterparts by flexing their appropriation muscles.
Effective border security is a goal shared by Americans of every political stripe, so it is disheartening, although not surprising, that the issue continues to serve as a political football. The fact is that more immigration enforcement is occurring in the interior and at the border than ever before—although one would never guess it given the state of the debate on Capitol Hill. Deportations are at an all-time high, the border is more reinforced and secure than it has ever been, and we spend more than $17 billion per year on our immigration enforcement agencies.
And yet, our immigration system remains in terrible disrepair due to a basic truth understood by politicians on both sides of the aisle: we simply cannot enforce our way to a rational legal immigration system. Americans want our laws enforced, but they also want a workable system that serves the national interest. Funds in the supplemental spending bill—and the billions of dollars already appropriated—have to be coupled with systematic reforms that restore the rule of law in order to be truly effective.
Boots and binoculars on the border are critical, but they are insufficient without comprehensive immigration reform. It is high time for members of Congress to start worrying about real border security and stop pandering in pursuit of illusory political security.