On immigration, GOP must get off the (border) fence

2013-06-25T00:00:00Z On immigration, GOP must get off the (border) fence Arizona Daily Star
June 25, 2013 12:00 am

The following editorial appeared Friday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"Secure the border" has become the new "Drill, baby, drill."

For Republicans who want to live in a fact-free world and are afraid to rile the furthest right members of their party by daring to support comprehensive immigration legislation, focusing on border security is, well, a security blanket.

That's why Republicans facing re-election in 2016, such as Missouri's Sen. Roy Blunt, are going back to the old canard that there is no good time to talk about fixing the broken immigration system until the border is first secure.

Never mind that the border is more secure than at any time in its history.

Never mind that Congress has increased border agents, and fences and technology, and in the process has reduced border crossings from Mexico to the United States in several states.

And never mind that President Obama has been more aggressive than his predecessors when it comes to deporting illegal immigrants.

Just as facts didn't impress the drill, baby, drill team while the U.S. was drilling for more domestic oil than at any time in its history, facts don't deter opponents of immigration reform.

Oh, and one more "never mind": Never mind that building the sort of border fence that some Republican members of Congress are fixated on would be so expensive that the deficit would skyrocket.

Which brings us to the state of debate over that Senate bill pushed by the bipartisan Gang of Eight. The gang includes Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.

Their bill ultimately would create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers already in the U.S. and improve the broken immigration system so that American companies can attract some of the foreign workers they need.

Further, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just released a financial analysis of the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration bill. The legislation reduces the deficit. By a lot. The CBO estimates that even considering the costs in the bill for, yes, increased border security, it would reduce the deficit by $175 billion between 2014 and 2023.

Remember when reducing the deficit was the GOP's holy grail? You only need to remember back to March.

At some point the Senate and House must realize that the numbers in the immigration bill add up to economic growth.

When about 8 million people in the country who aren't paying taxes start paying taxes, federal revenue increases dramatically.

Also, the CBO estimates the bill will lead to a population increase of about 10 million permanent residents by 2023. That's 10 million people paying taxes, buying goods and services, feeding the economy.

The business community has long pushed for a fix to the broken immigration system because the businesses need both quality workers and new customers.

On Wednesday, the Senate wisely defeated an amendment to the immigration legislation from Blunt that would have required the Department of Homeland Security to have 100 percent monitoring capability along the Mexican border before the rest of the legislation would go into effect.

That's not a serious idea. It ignores the increased security already provided along the border.

It's time for Republicans to get off the fence, literally and figuratively, and do something serious to help the U.S. economy and improve the lives for millions of people living in America yearning to be free.

Pass the comprehensive immigration reform and, as President Ronald Reagan did more than two decades ago, send a signal to the rest of the world that the shining city on the hill is once again open for business.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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