Democrat Finally Can Offer Government Some Applause On Immigration Policy
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Finally some good news on the border fence. The AP reported on June 23rd that construction of the fence can continue:

"The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a plea by environmental groups to rein in the Bush administration's power to waive laws and regulations to speed construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

"Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has used authority given to him by Congress in 2005 to ignore environmental and other laws and regulations to move forward with hundreds of miles of fencing in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

"The case rejected by the court involved a two-mile section of fence in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area near Naco, Ariz. The section has since been built.

"As of June, 13, 331 miles of fencing have been constructed in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas." [Court OK's border fence despite environmental worry, By Eileen Sullivan]

The same day as the Court decision, on June 23, I was interviewed on the George Putnam Radio Show, CRN Digital Talk, by its producer Chuck Wilder, about the effectiveness of border fences as detailed in my June 15th story on how well the Israeli fence has stopped terrorism. The callers, one of whom had been to the Mexican border to see the effective use of double fencing, were most pleased with what has been done, particularly in the potential high-volume crossing areas that had previously been so porous.

Time Magazine's cover story in the June 19th issue, "The Great Wall of America" admits that the wall works. As a Democrat, I was pleased to read in this article that

"Passions don't shake out neatly along party lines. Republican John McCain wove frantically through last winter's debates trying to avoid the scarlet A-for-amnesty. His sin was promoting a 'pathway to citizenship' for undocumented workers. Democrat Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, tripped on a debate question about driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Senator Barack Obama has stepped carefully with the issue, voting for the fence and for more agents on the border while saying that this covers 'only one side of the equation.'"

Actually, of course, Senator Obama is correct—although certainly not on board with real immigration reform. It is true that the fence alone is not the lone silver bullet that will solve the legal and illegal immigration crisis. But like a well-built Mississippi levee, it will surely eliminate a lot of grief for many Americans exposed to the flood.

If our federal government had acted to enforce existing immigration laws, instead of trying to pass phony fixes like the comprehensive amnesty bill which failed last June, or made sure employers could not hire illegal aliens, or stopped corporate begging by billionaires like Bill Gates for more special unneeded special visas or fostered a national ID card system which could spring us through crowded airports, then this fence wouldn't be the prime alien-stopper it is now.

But let's not live in fantasy land. These same Open Border folks will never cease trying to spin the system so they can continue to throw the costs of immigration onto American citizens. Any gimmick will do. This rejected Supreme Court case was brought by environmentalists!

"'I am extremely disappointed in the court's decision,' Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said. 'This waiver will only prolong the department from addressing the real issue: their lack of a comprehensive border security plan.'

"Thompson chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. He and 13 other House Democrats—including six other committee chairs—filed a brief in support of the environmentalists' appeal."

Egad, have they not seen the trashing of border areas by the hordes of illegal aliens who tramp across?

These folks are just worried about ocelot mating. Not my kind of Democrats.

Could it be that Homeland Security is actually getting the message from the majority of American citizens about securing America's borders? As the AP story relates,

"Russ Knock, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, said, 'The American people expect this department to enforce the rule of law at the border'. He added that the department is happy with the court's decision.

" 'As fence construction proceeds,' Knocke said, 'the department will continue to be a good steward of the environment, and consult with appropriate state, local, and tribal officials.'

"The concept of a border fence took on new life after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which revived the heated immigration debate. Intelligence officials have said the holes along the southwest border could provide places for terrorists to enter the country."

In a time of national emergency, we must take urgent measures.

Finally, the AP reports:

"Earlier this year, Chertoff waived more than 30 laws and regulations in an effort to finish building 670 miles of fence along the southwest border. Administration officials have said that invoking the legal waivers—which Congress authorized in 1996 and 2005 laws—will cut through bureaucratic red tape and sidestep environmental laws that currently stand in the way of fence construction."

The Time Magazine article notes the results are not perfect. But at least the piece doesn't take a blatantly open border position on the immigration issue so often found in the news and editorial pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times. It reports,

"In this cloud of intangibles, the fence is something solid. After years of talking about it, Congress last year put $1.2 billion into the project, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promptly started hiring posthole diggers. DHS aims to complete more than 650 miles (roughly 1,000 km) of barrier by the end of the year, built in sections by National Guard units and private contractors. That represents only about one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border; on the other hand, the fence clearly delineates, for the first time, a frontier that was previously just a four-strand cattle fence at best.

"New fence goes up every week in Arizona and California, mile after mile of posts and plates and screens and rails marching across sun-blasted deserts and up rugged, rock-strewn hillsides. No one seems able to keep track of it all. Even agents of the newly reorganized Customs and Border Protection (CBP) department find themselves coming upon sections they've never seen before. The work is less advanced in New Mexico and stalled in Texas, where fierce local opposition has delayed construction—a coalition of border-town mayors and chambers of commerce has sued DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, alleging he is trying to seize land at inadequate prices. But Texas already has more than 1,200 miles (almost 2,000 km) of well-marked border in the form of the Rio Grande."

Let's give credit here for a good start. Now. if only our Congress would stop trying to slip open border amendments into pending legislation and get the message, the tidal waves of newcomers would be reduced to those needed.

As to the future funding for the fence in the next Administration?  Experts with whom I have spoken are not certain.  One thinks that the fence building will continue through the year on the basis of already appropriated money. That will not complete fencing on the border, but it will cover the most-used routes. A vote in the House on June 24th indicates that new funding to continue the effort next year may not be forthcoming or be very limited.  Also, the Republicans (Hutchinson) are trying to put roadblocks in the fencing effort—but in the House vote yesterday it was the majority Democrats who cut fencing financing.  Our job as true immigration reformers?  Keep the heat on your Congressional reps!

Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.

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