Fence Sitters In The Congress
An excellent editorial in the Investor's Business Daily, who are these guys? They seem to have come out of nowhere and are blowing away the competition...
Illegal Immigration: For one-tenth the cost of the pork added to the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill, we could complete a border fence that would benefit the U.S. and Mexico. Hey, Congress, can you spare an earmark?Technorati Tags: illegal immigration, pork barrel spending, democrats, republicans, corrupt,
Last fall, when President Bush signed legislation authorizing the construction of a 700-mile border fence, we voiced concern it may never be built. And when the Democrats took control of Congress, our concern grew.
The law, which appropriated money to start the project, also said Congress didn't have to release the money to build it until it approves of how the fence will be built. Its full $1.2 billion cost was included in appropriations for Homeland Security. But the law withholds $950 million of it until the House and Senate appropriations committees approve the design, location and length of the fence, which congressional researchers say is actually 850 miles. Not likely.
Moreover, it now appears that most of that fence will not be a real fence at all. Reports say President Bush and Senate Republicans, in an attempt to get the fence moving, have agreed to push for only 370 miles of actual fence, with 200 miles of vehicle barriers and 300 miles of electronic monitoring.
"It's just a fence. It's the kind of fence we build in America every day" says Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from San Diego who is running for president. He, along with New York's Peter King, ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, insist the fence will cost only $3 million a mile, or about $2.6 billion, the same estimate reached by the Congressional Budget Office.
By contrast, Congressional Democrats added $21 billion in pork to buy the votes of members reluctant to agree to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq to a supplemental appropriations bill funding the war. They found money to help the shrimp industry, to store peanuts and to subsidize spinach growers, but not for the enhanced border security the fence would provide.
Some oppose the fence if it's not part of "comprehensive" immigration reform. But regardless of how we deal with the 12 million or so illegals already here, we need to do something about a system that allows more to come.
As former U.S. senator from Tennessee Fred Thompson said when asked about illegal immigration: "I'm concerned about the next 12 million or 20 million." In other words, first stop the bleeding.
The cost of the fence is petty cash compared to the economic burden illegals impose on our education, health care and criminal justice systems. A study by the Lone Star Foundation in Austin, Texas, says illegal aliens drain $4.5 billion from the Texas economy alone, mostly in health care costs. Every day brings reports of crimes by people who shouldn't be here, of hospitals closing and of school systems straining under the weight of illegal immigration.
And while the Mexican economy benefits from remittances that illegals send home, estimated to reach $25 billion this year, there's a cost to Mexico's future in terms of human capital. Mexico's labor force shrinks and its future dims as illegals and their children head north.
Guillermo Ortiz, director of Mexico's central bank, which is independent of the government, told the Dallas Morning News last year that tougher U.S. enforcement, which includes the fence, "would not be altogether bad," adding, "I think Mexico needs its people."
Illegal immigration also provides a mass of humanity among which potential terrorists can hide. As Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a Senate hearing before the Democrats took control: "Illegal immigration threatens our communities and our national security." So much so that at one point the governors of Arizona and New Mexico, including Democratic presidential wannabe Bill Richardson, declared border emergencies.
The border fence would go a long way toward fixing that. Build it and they won't come.