Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott authorized the installation of a 1,000-foot line of bright orange, wrecking ball-sized buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass. Their placement was to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States from Mexico. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to force the removal the buoys, calling the floating impediments ‘illegal construction.’
On July 7th, Abbott issued an executive order(EO) authorizing the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to apprehend illegal immigrants who cross the border between ports of entry and return them to the border. Abbott’s action was in response to the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions, which has resulted in a flood of illegals coming across the border. Speaking before Texas Republican Party activists on Friday, Governor Abbott said, “I will do whatever I have to do to defend our state from the invasion of the Mexican drug cartels and others who have tried to come into our country illegally, and I will protect our sovereignty.” Three observations:
First, Texas is impacted by illegal immigration more than any other state. Texas and Mexico share 1,254 miles of common border and are joined by 28 international bridges and border crossings. This number includes two dams, one hand-drawn ferry, and 25 other crossings that allow commercial, vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It is estimated 7,000 illegally cross that border daily. Abbott’s actions have cut that number in half since May, but three Texas cities- DFW, Houston, and Austin- have large percentage of illegals living there.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton estimates illegal immigration costs Texas taxpayers $855 million annually, most of it for uninsured health care. “Texans are hardworking and generous people, but the cost of illegal immigration is an unconscionable burden on the taxpayers of our great state. Texas will always welcome those who legally immigrate, but we cannot continue forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for individuals who skirt the law and skip the line,” Paxton said.
Second, Congress needs to deal with immigration. It has been 37 years since Congress passed significant immigration reform that was signed into law. In 1986, Congress passed and President Reagan signed a bill granting amnesty for over 3 million immigrants.
In May, the GOP controlled U.S. House passed H.R. 2, a bill that would restart construction of the southern border wall, restrict asylum, and require employers to ensure all hires were legally allowed to work in the United States. The bill passed along Party lines, with all Democrats and two Republicans voting no. The bill has little chance to get a vote in the Senate.
The failure of the Biden administration to extend Title 42 has resulted in persistently high volume of illegals and illegal drugs crossing the border. It is estimated 8,000 people are entering the U.S. illegally each day. 80% are caught immediately, but most are not deported. The vast majority are released and given transportation- at U.S. taxpayer expense- to cities throughout the fruited plain. Many find jobs, performing tasks Americans won’t do, but few seek legal status because of convoluted, cumbersome federal immigration policies. Completing the legal process requires a commitment most are unwilling to make.
Third, the Democrats want blanket amnesty for illegals. Amnesty helps them at the voting polls. There are an estimated 11 million people in America who illegally entered the country- most of them from socialist countries. Because they hold to a Marxist philosophy, they identify with the Ds more than the Rs. For Democrats, it is about votes, not about national security or tax dollars. That is why a bi-partisan bill to address immigration has little chance in Congress.
America is a land of immigrants. Those legally seeking a better life in the land of opportunity should be welcomed, but national security and the cost to taxpayers can’t be dismissed. Governor Abbott is doing what the federal government should do- stopping illegal immigration.