At the same time, we need to slow the flow of new immigrants by pressing ahead with the border fence our lawmakers have promised to build. Fences work. Consider the words of a correspondent who volunteers for a border patrol on his days off. “Because of OUR fence, it’s become virtually impossible for groups of people to walk through our area,” he reports from the frontier. “Fences do work.”
Sadly, though, there’s a chance the government will back away from its promise to build a fence. And it wouldn’t be the first time the government failed to take action. Back in 1996, Congress mandated the development of a system to track aliens as they leave the U.S., so we’ll know who’s here and who has left.
Yet just last week, the assistant secretary for homeland security policy told The New York Times his agency couldn’t build such a system right now. “It is a pretty daunting set of costs, both for the U.S. government and the economy,” Stewart Baker said. “Congress has said, ‘We want you to do it.’ We are not going to ignore what Congress has said. But the costs here are daunting.”
Sadly, it’s not difficult to picture something similar happening with the border fence. Unless we make sure the politicians keep their promise, Americans could wake up in 2016 with no wall and be hearing bureaucrats say, “Sorry, we just never did get around to building one.” There’s no reason the Mexican economy can’t thrive. After all, its people are extremely creative. As my friend reports from the border, illegal aliens “refuse to stop when pursued, and typically load the tires with silicon to make them impervious to spike strips, and beef up the bumpers to facilitate ramming gates, fences and pursuing law enforcement vehicles, or civilian cars who just happen to be in the way.”
That’s the sort of inventiveness the U.S. needs to encourage in the Mexican economy. If Mexico’s government would open up state-owned industries (such as the oil company Pemex), it would create jobs at home for entrepreneurs. Instead of trying to come here, more Mexicans could stay home and become rich. It’s easy to see what a government thinks is important; observe what it does (taxation) and what it ignores (illegal immigration). We need our government to get serious about stopping illegal immigration. Washington has the means -- and the laws are already on the books. It’s time to muster the political will to fix this problem before it becomes any worse.