Last week, there was much talk of a crisis at the border with Mexico, prompted by a surge of Central American teenagers trying to get into the United States. President Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with this influx, with the largest single appropriation, $1.8 billion, to go to the Department of Health and Human Services "to provide appropriate care for unaccompanied children while maintaining services for refugees," according to the Washington Post's summary of the Obama Administration's request. So, once again, ordinary Americans will end up footing the bill for illegal immigration, whose beneficiaries include an unholy alliance of mostly Republican businessmen (who get cheap labor) and mostly Democratic bureaucrats (who get new clients for the welfare state).
This crisis, of course, was easily preventable. Just as critics of the immigration amnesty bill touted by Obama have noted, any attempt to legalize illegal immigrants will only lead to more illegal immigration. Indeed, the Administration projected in January that 65,000 minors would attempt to cross the border this year. Mexicans and Central Americans know that the United States is not serious about defending its border, which is why they come. By allowing mass illegal immigration from Mexico and now Central America, we remove pressure on the governments of those countries to improve living conditions for their own people. They simply export their problems to us.
The solution to this crisis has also long been known. Pat Buchanan, among others, advocated the solution two decades ago. We need to build a fence and secure the border. Indeed, Congress even passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, only to let the act be gutted the following year. If Congress is serious about securing the border, it will pass legislation to finally build that fence and do whatever else is necessary to secure the border. And if Republicans are serious about regaining the White House, they will make this issue a centerpiece of the campaign and tell their donors who want more cheap labor that they aren't calling the shots any more.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.