One of the common refrains from the supporters of the Senate amnesty plan was that the people who opposed the bill weren't offering any alternatives. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The problem wasn't that there was a shortage of alternatives, it was that the alternatives were designed to end open borders and amnesty, and that's not something the bill supporters were interested in doing.
But, enough talk about the past. Instead, let's talk about the steps we need to move forward and deal with the illegal immigration problem once and for all.
#1) We must pursue enforcement first: The American people simply no longer have any confidence that the government is serious about enforcing our immigration laws -- so they believe, with much justification, that if we combine an amnesty bill with new laws aimed at enforcement, we'll get the amnesty but not the enforcement. So, the simple solution to that is to pursue enforcement first.
Many backers of comprehensive immigration will tell you that an enforcement first bill won't have the votes to pass. Well, first off, the same apparently could be said of a comprehensive immigration bill, which has now failed twice to gather the votes it needs to make it through.
Furthermore, how can it be that an enforcement first bill cannot pass when everyone from Ted Kennedy, to Harry Reid, to Lindsey Graham, to Michael Chertoff says that they support enforcing our immigration laws and securing the border? Let's put together a package, put it to a vote, and let the American people see who's interested in curtailing illegal immigration and preventing terrorists from walking across our borders -- and who's not.
#2) We need to build the fence: We need to build all 854 miles of fencing along the border. Although that will not, in and of itself, secure the border, the fencing will act as a force multiplier that will make the jobs of border patrol agents much easier.
#3) We need to fully staff our border patrol: Simply put, the border patrol, especially with no fence in place, does not have the manpower to adequately cover our southern and northern borders. Building the fence will help, but the number of border patrol agents needs to continue to increase.