THE SCENES from the U.S.-Mexico border are distressing. Tens of thousands of foreign nationals are crossing into our country illegally, overwhelming our capacity to respond. The question is: what can we do about it?
Of course, we welcome legal immigration. We are a nation of immigrants, and they add vitality and strength to our society. But we are also a nation of laws, and those laws need to be upheld. Think of the millions of people playing by the rules and waiting patiently in line to enter the country legally. Each one of them is undermined by a broken system that rewards people who jump the line and come here illegally. Furthermore, our sovereignty as a nation is threatened when we lose control of our borders.
Some people would have you believe that drug and gang activity south of the border is to blame for so many people fleeing to our doorstep. But the poor countries of Central America have been dealing with civil unrest and violence for decades, so that can’t be the reason.
It turns out this crisis is the result of executive orders issued by President Obama in 2012 that halted deportation proceedings against young illegal immigrants. As a result, thousands more are attempting to get here under the expectation that they, too, will be granted legal status and all the benefits that go along with it. Combined with inadequate border security, you can see how it is that we have a major crisis on our hands.
The answer to the problem, then, is to secure the border and end the pro-amnesty policies that have encouraged people to come here illegally in the first place.
This happens to be an area where I have a major difference with my opponent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who twice voted against border fencing, in 2009 and 2013, and who supports granting legal status to young illegal immigrants. I support the construction of a border fence, oppose amnesty and believe that we needed to shut off the magnets that bring people here in violation of the law, like in-state tuition for illegals.
Last week, the Senate had a chance to reverse President Obama’s illegal immigration policies when legislation came to the floor to provide additional funding for border enforcement. Not surprisingly, Jeanne Shaheen voted to stop any meaningful policy changes from being added to the bill. Now President Obama — emboldened by the support of the liberal wing of his party, including Sen. Shaheen — is thinking of using his unilateral powers to expand the number of illegal immigrants who can remain in the country legally.
That would be a grave mistake because it would make the problem much, much worse.
Our country cannot survive with two immigration systems, one legal and the other illegal. We must do what we can to strengthen our legal immigration system so that we can continue to welcome new arrivals who can make vital contributions to our culture and way of life. But it’s time we bring an end to illegal immigration by shutting off the magnets and enforcing security at the border.
Scott Brown of Rye is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.