The best form of border security isn’t at the border.
This is a new idea that’s based on the patterns of illegal immigration over the last half-century. You can invite illegal aliens to the country, and provide them with jobs and benefits. They will not come if you tell them they will receive no benefits and that they will be deported if they are caught. This isn’t a natural disaster that will require more staff at the border to improve the situation. They won’t come if you make illegal immigration illegal.
The Border Patrol has doubled its size since President Bush’s first term. It has also grown fivefold in the past five years. We have spent endless money and infrastructure on the border. What good is infrastructure and personnel if they are instructed to coddle and release illegal aliens, then they are given jobs and benefits inside the country? In other words, in the first 100 days of the fiscal year 2023, there were 718,000 encounters and 520,000 illegal aliens. The average daily number of getaways is 2,670. We have a total of 1.9 million aliens that were released, out of 2.6 million encounters. There are also 1 million extras for the year.
Why? They do so because they go through a judicial procedure rather than being returned to their home country. This allows them to reach their goals while remaining in the country for as long as they wish. Syracuse University’s analysis found that there are over 2 million immigration cases with only 600 administrative judges presiding. It is impossible to litigate your way around an invasion. Neither can you use your manpower or infrastructure to stop people from claiming benefits? Although it is possible to stop the problem by using military force, this administration wouldn’t do that.
The illegal immigration issue can be boiled down to two components: ban all catch-and-release for all migrant encounters at the border and ban all benefits in the United States interior. The issue is too serious for everything else. Even if a conservative president were to be reelected, this would still hold true today. It is not enough to declare “There will be border security”. Now, there is another tranche of billions for DHS. This money will likely be used more against Americans than invaders. Biden’s administration will not secure the border and will use the money to get more benefits than enforce it.
It is better to focus on border security in the abstract than interior enforcement. In return for amnesty, Senate Republicans have teamed up with Senator Kyrsten Sinema to create a “border security plan” that will include some elements such as more funding and infrastructure at the border. A border wall cannot stop a physical invasion. It can only stop 1,000 lawsuits. In 2019, I reported that border agents had been bringing illegal aliens into the country from behind the fence, even under the Trump administration. They did this after they stepped onto U.S. territory, which is only a few feet away.
That’s why House Republicans should avoid the border security issue per se and instead push the following:
- A categorical ban on catch-and-release.
- Both states and Border Patrol agents (and ICE) can get standing in court to sue the DHS for violating the INA to their detriment.
- Ban all federal benefits for illegal aliens, including K-12 education (to reverse Plyler v. Doe).
- Explicitly deputize states to enforce immigration law (to reverse U.S. v. Arizona).
- Accord a private cause of action to citizens or families harmed by sanctuary cities or the federal government’s lack of enforcement.
- Dramatically expand criminal penalties for identity theft, which is the lynchpin of the illegal aliens’ ability to remain in the country. Allow states to enforce it.
Republicans are a day late and a dollar short if they are going to focus on the solutions from 10 years ago they originally opposed while they were still promoting amnesty. Thanks to Republicans buying in to the Democrat premise on the issue for decades (and Senate Republicans still pushing for it), we need a much stronger response. We are talking about an unfathomable four and a half million encounters since Biden took office. Anything short of cutting off magnets and allowing red states to enforce the law will not put a dent in the problem.
The reason illegal immigration continues is because we haven’t made it illegal. Illegal migrants come and litigate themselves into status. If it became clear that all illegal aliens will be returned (not just under Title 42), that they will not get benefits if they evade Border Patrol, and that red states will enforce the laws against them (including criminal penalties), the numbers will drop on their own. Once the flow dries up, the cartels will have less money and much less cover and chaos through which to bring in bad guys and drugs. At that point, we can discuss the best way to counter the cartels with kinetic force from a position of strength.
What the past 40 years of border/immigration debates should demonstrate is that everyone is supportive of “border security,” but nobody really is. That’s why it’s time to change the name of the game.