Yesterday, the U.S. Senate approved $600 million in funding for additional security measures along the border with Mexico, including new technology, personnel, and even a couple unmanned predator drones (feel safer yet?). I blogged about the proposal yesterday in "Democrats Bow to Republican Border Security Lies, Spend $600 Million On Non-Solutions."
This latest development represents not a reasoned response to some massive crime increase on our Southern border (thank goodness) but election year politics at their worst. Senate Democrats and Republicans both know that the only route to true border security is real, comprehensive immigration reform.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Congress has now delivered on the latest request for extra funds and personnel that the ‘border security first’ crowd, such as Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), have been advocating for. Will these former champions of comprehensive immigration reform keep moving the security goalposts and sticking with their ‘border first’ talking points? Or will they recognize that Republican primaries will soon be over and the time is right to deliver an actual, lasting solution to fix the broken immigration system?
Here's hoping that's the case. If not, Senate Democrats have handed certain Arizona Republicans just what they were looking for: validation for their absurd claims about crime and illegal immigration to justify blocking real, comprehensive immigration reform.
As Sam Seder argues, that's BS (WARNING- language may not be suitable for work):
(h/t John Aravosis, AMERICABlog).
Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has argued that "it's time for lawmakers to reconsider what they'd like to see happening in the region." According to Alden:
"Border security has become the most overused, and least understood, concept in the struggle over what to do about our broken immigration system," he said. "While an election year may not be the best time, the United States finally needs an honest debate over what it means to secure the country's borders."
Let's face it. The border debate has rarely been about facts – border spending and security have dramatically increased in recent years and crime rates in border cities and states such as Arizona have actually declined, despite the incendiary rhetoric. Instead, the border has become a proxy for heated political battles, including John McCain’s primary challenge from anti-immigrant zealot J.D. Hayworth. Not to mention Democrats’ misplaced race to catch up with hardline Republican rhetoric on immigration, instead of countering it with the facts and steadfastly fighting for the real solutions that American voters back in poll after poll.
So where are we now?
For months, Republicans have been saying "border security first" while blocking any possible action on comprehensive immigration reform – the best way to secure the border and the only way to actually repair our broken immigration system. While many Democrats have been calling for a reasoned approach, Senate Democrats caved to misplaced political fears yesterday. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and the Democratic co-sponsors of the bill should know better. Relentless bleating about "Border security first" is a Republican campaign slogan, not an immigration policy.
Senators on both sides of the aisle need to drop the slogans, get past the wedge politics, and finally work together to pass what the American people want: comprehensive, pragmatic reforms that turn a chaotic immigration system into a legal, just, and humane one. Not to mention raising billions in tax revenue from newly-legalized workers instead of throwing hundreds of millions at unmanned predator drones to patrol an already-heavily guarded border.
In the meantime, there are many ways that Senators can move to fix our broken immigration system immediately. Senate leadership should figure out a path forward on immigration that cuts through the ugly rhetoric on immigration instead of embracing it.