ew issues vex Washington lawmakers more than border security and immigration, so don’t blame President Donald Trump. The debate over how to fix America’s broken borders and flawed immigration system raged for two decades before he got the key to the Oval Office. Trump just threw napalm on a forest fire.
This all can be fixed. Despite the fact that he is the center of the storm, Trump may be the best one to fix it—but only if he adopts a comprehensive agenda that focuses on addressing the problems rather than just making a deal. A real agenda would include effective border security and regional engagement, enforcing immigration laws, assimilation, and legal immigration reform.
Real reform would start with being clear about the biggest bugbear in the debate: what to do about those already unlawfully present in the United States. The answer should be simply this: people who are in the country illegally don’t have a right to stay.
The debate over border security and immigration has become toxic because politicians have made it all about their politics. The squabble has become a partisan morass, with reasonable Americans trapped between zealots on both sides in an alley to nowhere.
Compromise is no way to cut through intractable divides such as this. Reagan tried that. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, otherwise known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act promised enforcement, border security, and legal reforms in exchange providing amnesty to illegal immigrants already here. The compromise didn’t work. Two decades later the problem was worse than before.
A compromise on immigration is not like a compromise on other issues. It undermines the efficacy of border and immigration management. For instance, it makes no sense to pass a law that strengthens border security and incentivizes illegal migration (by, say, offering amnesty).
By James Jay Carafano for THE NATIONAL INTEREST
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