Last year at this time President Bush attempted to persuade Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but his efforts ultimately failed. Though Congress passed, and the President signed, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which called for 700 miles of new fencing on the United States – Mexican border, this new law fell far short of "comprehensive." It did not address how America should deal with the 12 million workers who are already here illegally, nor did it hold businesses that hire illegal aliens as cheap labor accountable for their conduct. True reform must take into consideration each of the facets of the problem associated with illegal immigration if it is to be truly "comprehensive."
Realizing that the crisis has not yet been adequately addressed, President Bush is once again taking up the cause of immigration reform. This week he traveled to Yuma, Arizona to dedicate a new, state-of-the-art border patrol station. In his speech, the President talked not only about the advances his administration has made in securing the border, but also about how America needs a guest worker program, a fair resolution to the problem of those who are already here illegally, and laws that hold employers responsible. When it comes to the President's "goals", the Center for a Just Society is in agreement. As we said last year ( here and here ), all three elements—border control, employer accountability, and a solution for those who are already here—are essential.
The least controversial aspect of comprehensive reform is border control. A sovereign nation must have control of its borders; not even America, the world's most prosperous country, can economically support the millions of men and women who would immigrate here if given the chance. If we hope to survive we must limit the number of people who are allowed to move here each year. Even more importantly, border control is imperative for national security reasons. Many criminals and would-be-terrorists are eager to enter America to pursue their malignant plans. It is just as easy for a Zarqawi to slip through our southern borders as it is for a Gonzalez. The next September 11th must be stopped at the border. Therefore, it is a matter of utmost importance that our borders remain closed to those who do not have permission to enter the United States.