WASHINGTON, D.C. -- This week, as the U.S. Senate debated its "comprehensive immigration reform" bill, Mexico's President, Vicente Fox, speaking to the Utah legislature, decried the erection of barriers along the border his country shares with ours. "We won't resolve this problem with fences, but hand in hand, working together," the Mexican leader said. Unfortunately, our neighbors have done nothing to stop a tidal wave of humanity flowing across our southern border. To make matters worse, the bill passed on Friday by the U.S. Senate offers little that will solve the problem.
Immigration reform has generated more emotion in the heartland of America than any other issue in years. But much of the angst heard during heated exchanges in both Houses of Congress and at protest demonstrations across the land could have been avoided had the issue been properly framed by the Bush administration.
In the midst of a global war against suicidal terrorists bent on inflicting mass casualties, shoring up our frontiers should be a no-brainer. Fixing the border sieve first, before deciding what to do about illegal aliens already in the country, would have gained support from a significant majority of American citizens and lawmakers.
But now, 15 months after the president first announced his "guest-worker" program, it's clear that the only thing that people south of the border heard was "amnesty." According to Border Patrol agents who captured a record 1.2-million people illegally entering America last year, the hope of forgiveness for unlawfully entering the United States has become the principal motive for impoverished job seekers to race for our southern border.
The Tucson and Yuma, Ariz., areas are crossed most frequently. There, the Border Patrol reports 589,831 arrests -- more than Texas, California and New Mexico combined. They also estimate that more than 500,000 illegals evaded apprehension. The explanation: Our 10,500 Border Patrol agents have simply been overwhelmed. It remains to be seen whether 6,000 National Guardsmen will help staunch the flood. Last year the House Immigration Reform Caucus estimated that at least 36,000 Guardsmen would be needed.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.