Throughout the last Presidential campaign Donald Trump hammered away on the topic of immigration and specifically that he would build a wall on our southern border with Mexico and then make Mexico pay for it. This was fodder for the true believers and for many who saw it as a sign that if elected Trump would do something about our immigration (or lack thereof) policy.
I will admit that I never saw building a wall as the solution to our immigration problems yet I was attracted to someone that might actually address the problem. There are many ways to go about this problem and border security and enforcement is one of them. I find it a bit amusing that the very same Democrats that voted for a border fence in 2006 (Secure Fence Act of 2006) included such names as Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the current minority leader Chuck Schumer. That list also included then Senator Joe Biden.
Among those currently still in the Senate that voted in favor of a border fence you could include Tom Carper (D-DE), Diane Feinstein (joined by then Sen. Barbara Boxer) (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). In total the vote for passing the bill was 80-19 in the Senate.
So here we are 10 years later and suddenly every Democrat is opposing a wall or fence along the southern border. The question is why? I think we all know the reason: Politics. Lets be honest, if Hillary Clinton had won the election had proposed building a wall (she voted for the fence) the Democrats would be rushing to the Senate floor to vote yes. But since it is Donald Trump proposing it they suddenly abhor any thought of erecting a border to people attempting to walk across the border from Mexico.
In my opinion we need to start addressing the overall problem and that mean comprehensive immigration reform. It would also mean that there has to be a compromise with both sides giving and taking. President Trump, in February, said that he was open to a compromise bill on immigration reform that would create a pathway for legal status for many of the illegal immigrants now in the country. I realize that he did not say a pathway to citizenship and that creates a lot of heartburn for liberals and Democrats. They also don’t like the term “illegal immigrant” and prefer to call them undocumented immigrants. I wonder what they would call someone that broke into their home burglarized it? Would they refer to that as an undocumented entry or would they consider the act to be illegal? For those who might want to respond that was a rhetorical question because we all know the answer to the question.
I am for a comprehensive bill and if that includes some form of border fence or wall I would support it. The biggest question right now is how are we going to pay for such a structure. President Trump has asked for about $2B to start construction and he continues to say that Mexico will eventually pay for the wall. Now you might institute some forms of tariffs or taxes that you could claim Mexico was paying for the wall but I think any reasonable person realizes that Mexico is not going to volunteer to pay for the wall. If we build the wall the American taxpayers will pay for it.
So here we are in the middle of April 2017 and the government is coming up against another deadline to keep the government funded. The Continuing Resolution that was passed late last year expires at the end of the week. That puts the Republicans in a dilemma since I think any reasonable Republican knows that should they allow the government to be shut down the Democrats and the media will pounce on this as a failure of Republican to govern. It will also fall on the 100th day of the Trump Presidency and a lot will be made out of that by those two critics.
The Republicans can pass a bill out of the House because they have a majority. It is in the Senate where they face the problem. Here they will need 60 votes because you can be sure the Democrats will force a filibuster if they don’t like everything in the bill. The wall is one of those dislikes and they have promised they will block it. So what does President Trump do in the face of those threats? He waffles on the wall and says he will take money for border security that emphasizes technology and border patrol officers. He would then come back later in the year, during the next budget cycle, to try and get funding for the wall.
It will now fall on the Democrats not to filibuster the CR because they have raised new demands. If that were to happen it might force the Republicans to close ranks and simply put the bill to a vote with the clear understanding that a vote against the funding bill would be a vote to shut down the government. It would also expose the Democrats for what some think is their real goal, to deny President Trump any form of victory. But I think the American people will begin to see through that tactic and even with the media supporting the Democrats it might fall flat now and in the next election.
But as we look at the wall I think we all have to understand that it is treating the symptom and not the cause of the problem. Sure it may slow down some of the traffic across the border but it won’t solve the immigration issue as a whole. If you think that this is just a border issue then you would be wrong. Estimates are there are upward of 500,000 Irish in the country illegally and while that may not seem like a lot of the total problem consider that Ireland only has 4.5M people. That means that one out of every nine Irish are here in the U.S. illegally.
There are a lot of people from other countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East that come to the United State and simply overstay their travel visa. If you stand outside the international arrival gate at Dulles you will see people exiting with 4-5 large suitcase that are taped together. Would that look like a tourist to you or would it look like someone who has brought as much as possible with them and intends to stay here in the United States. Even former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, said he is particularly concerned about infiltrators both with visas and on the southern border coming from the Middle East.
“I am concerned about what we refer to as the special interest alien that comes from the other hemisphere that turns up on our southern border.”
“We don’t see this very often. It’s a very small percentage of those who are apprehended on our southern border who are coming from the Middle East region. We now have in place systems to almost immediately investigate that person when we apprehend them.” Testimony before Senate Homeland Security Committee – September 2016
So the problem is not just Hispanic. It is not just our southern border. It is immigration as a whole and begs for a bipartisan approach that will attempt to find a solution that the American people will support. Building a wall may sound like the solution but we all remember what happened when Humpty Dumpty sat on his wall.