Senate bill heavy on border enforcement

Senate bill heavy on border enforcement
At the Arizona-Mexico border. Photo by Teresa Puente

The U.S. Senate is expected to pass an immigration reform bill late Thursday or Friday that would add as much as $46 billion in border enforcement and require employers to verify the legal status of every worker, including U.S. citizens.

It also would double the number of border patrol agents to 40,000, add 700 miles of border fencing and even use drone aircraft at the border, according to the L.A. Times.

The House of Representatives is not expected to pass the same legislation and is taking a more piecemeal approach. Some House lawmakers said they won't offer a path to citizenship for the undocumented until the border is completely secure, according to the Associated Press.

But what lawmakers do not acknowledge in this immigration debate is that net migration from Mexico has fallen to zero or even less, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. This means that there is a net standstill in the Mexican-U.S. migration flow.

This is due to multiple factors, including the weak U.S. economy, a rise in deportations, a decrease in the Mexico birth rate and increased border enforcement, according to Pew Hispanic.

There are around 11 million undocumented in the U.S., including 6.1 million undocumented Mexicans in the U.S., down from 7 million in 2007.

It could take 13 years for them to become U.S. citizens under what the Senate is proposing.

But the number of undocumented Mexicans is not increasing. So then why do we need an additional $46 billion in border enforcement?

If we really want to stop any additional future immigration, then we should spend some of those billions of dollars to create jobs in Mexico.

The fact of the matter is that fears over immigration are exaggerated if we put them in historical context. Immigrant waves from Germany and Ireland in the late 19th century equaled or exceeded the modern wave of immigration from Mexico as a share of immigrant population, according to Pew Hispanic.

I'm not advocating that we open the border or arguing that we don't need the U.S. Border Patrol.

But we don't need to spend billions more dollars when the number of undocumented in the U.S. is not increasing. Several liberal organizations have withdrawn their support for the Senate bill due to the emphasis on border enforcement, according to USA Today.

The U.S. and the Mexican governments as well as private business should invest in jobs that will give people a reason to thrive in Mexico.

This bill is better than nothing. But lawmakers need to help solve some of the root reasons people migrate to the U.S.

If not, 20 years from now we could wind up in the same place again.

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