The Myth of the Border Fence

Published on March 23rd, 2011

There is a myth that the immigration crisis can be solved by building a fence.  I recall that a couple of years ago, when I appeared on a national news oriented program to debate one of the many challenges created by the failings of the immigration system, the host of the show dismissed our concerns by announcing,  “The solution is simple:  troops on the border and we can move on to other issues!” It was actually a clever segue because right after he made that pronouncement, they went to a commercial and his show did, indeed, move on to other issues. Failings of the immigration system cannot be fixed simply by building an effective barrier on the southern border.  I have come to compare a fence on the border with the wing of an airplane, without the wing that airplane will certainly not get off the ground, but a wing by itself won’t go anywhere either.  While securing our borders is important, there are many other failures that plague the immigration system. It has been estimated that at least 5 million illegal aliens in our country did not run our borders but were legally admitted into the United States at ports of entry and then went on to violate the terms of their admission by staying beyond their authorized period of admission, working illegally, failing to attend schools they were admitted to attend or otherwise not abiding by the terms of their admission.  These are aliens who entered the United States with a variety of nonimmigrant visas such as tourist visas, student visas or exchange visitor visas and various categories of temporary work visas.  These are also aliens who entered the United States under the auspices of the wrong-headed Visa Waiver Program. These illegal aliens are “out there” hiding in plain sight playing a game of “hide and seek” with an agency that has little desire and even fewer resources to attempt to locate, apprehend and seek the removal of these aliens who initially entered the United States with the official blessings of our government and according to a recent report, there are fewer than 300 special agents of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) who are in the hunt for these illegal aliens. As bad as the nonimmigrant visa program is, the program by which aliens are lawfully admitted for permanent residence is at least as flawed.  Often politicians complain that the reason that aliens run our nation’s borders is because there is no lawful way for them to enter the United States.  There is no truth to this often repeated complaint. In point of fact the United States provides more aliens with lawful immigrant status than does any other country on the face of our planet.  An alien who is admitted as an immigrant is provided with an Alien Registration Receipt Card, also known as a “Green Card.” For each of the last several years, more than 1.1 million aliens were lawfully admitted as permanent residents.  An alien who is admitted as a permanent resident is immediately placed on the “pathway to United States citizenship.” The problem that permeates both the nonimmigrant and immigrant systems can be summed up with one word: FRAUD. Fraud can be thought of as a lie placed on an application that provides the perpetrator with a benefit or gain that he (she) would not be lawfully entitled to if all of the material facts were truly known.  Determining if an application contains lies or is fraudulent often requires an investigation be conducted. Because of the huge numbers of applications that are being processed each and every day and the lack of resources to conduct field investigations, many of those who engage in marriage fraud are not detected. The conferring of citizenship upon an alien represents the highest honor and the ultimate expression of trust a nation can bestow upon an alien.  Citizenship truly provides the “keys to the kingdom!” Recently Senator Chuck Schumer and other members of the United States Senate called for a new law to attack the challenge of “sham universities” used by aliens to seek to enter the United States.  In point of fact, laws already on the books are more than adequate.  We don’t lack essential laws but we do lack adequate resources and the will to create an immigration system that has real integrity. Nothing less than the security of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

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