WASHINGTON, D.C. — Speculation about a border wall and who will pay for it are no substitute for achievable, effective border security strategies as part of a broader approach on immigration.
Our nation’s significant border security investments include more than 21,000 agents who patrol the border, as well as 651 miles of fencing built along the 652 miles that the Border Patrol has deemed necessary to monitor.
A responsible border policy includes strategic physical barriers, eradication of invasive species along the Rio Grande River that inhibit security, new infrastructure and personnel at ports of entry, and additional training and oversight.
Rather than the American taxpayer footing the bill for these border security measures, Congress should look to other revenue sources such as requiring undocumented immigrants to register for legal status, pay fines and fees, and pass criminal background checks. That would generate billions of dollars of revenue we could invest along the border. In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office looked at such mechanisms and found immense economic benefits to the U.S. economy.
“Our safety and security are paramount. We need effective approaches that are risk-based and not a drain on hardworking taxpayers,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “A combination of technology, manpower and strategic infrastructure would focus on the risks at hand. Furthermore, the revenue for such measures lies in the fees and fines immigration reforms would provide.
“Our border policies also cannot overlook the cultural and economic benefits that intertwine the U.S. and Mexico. Communities along the southwest border emphasize these benefits the most: The region is one of the safest in the country and American workers in the area benefit from immigrants’ skills. They see as unnecessary an expensive, intrusive wall.
“An effective barrier combined with bridges that enable trade, tourism and a healthier economy are the best way to encourage our safety and security.”