The Denver Post this morning reports that Tom Tancredo is unhappy with the immigration reform and border security bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. I hope the House Rules Committee allows for every Tancredo amendment to get a vote and for many others as well. Unless the debate is wide-open, there will be no belief among the border security voters that the bill is other than a band aid. Tancredo will not be satisfied with any bill because to pronounce any bill acceptable would end his headline appeal. But the Congressman’s endless grandstanding and self-promotion should not obscure the real need for the security at the border to be dramatically upgraded.
The most important thing that needs to happen right now is the fence expansion program. The law needs to provide the Border Patrol open-ended authority to fence wherever such barriers will lead to enhanced security, and it needs to provide overruling authority so that opponents cannot use environmental laws to delay or cancel fencing/barrier projects. (The San Diego experience is the best example of this nonsense.)
The idea of a comprehensive fence program on both the northern and southern borders has been gaining momentum in Congress for some time, and California’s Duncan Hunter has the lead on the issue and is making progress. Congressman Tancredo’s absolutism should not be allowed to derail this crucial proposal.
Hunter’s proposal is collecting critics from among the usual suspects. Watch for astonishingly stupid arguments, like this one from the Nashville Tennessean:
Forget the cost of a border fence, which the Bush administration puts at $8 billion. Forget the fact that other walls in history ‘” the Berlin Wall comes to mind ‘” succeeded only at being monumental symbols of oppression.
A fence wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t prevent people from renting boats and sailing to U.S. ports. It wouldn’t prevent them from entering the country from Canada. It wouldn’t prevent people from tunneling under it, flying over it, or blowing up pieces of it and walking through the rubble.
So allegedly serious writers want you to believe that a border fence won’t substantially halt the flow of illegal entries? Even though the San Diego border fence has done so and in dramatic fashion? And because planes can fly over fences, and fences can be blown up –presumably without anyone noticing the detonation– the whole project should be abandoned.
Presumably the editorial staff at the Tennessean also oppose prevention efforts because of the 40,000 cases of Salmonella poisoning that occurs each year.
The border is too important to be left to the absolutists on both ends of the debate.