Other Views: Obama should start with border security
To repeat: There is a way forward on immigration reform that attracts solid support in both Congress and the public opinion polls, as the Grand Forks Herald editorialized in 2010.
“That way forward simply is this,” the editorial continued.
“First, secure the border.
“Then, tackle amnesty and other questions of what to do with illegal immigrants who already are in the U.S.”
That includes, we’d now add, the questions of stemming the tide of undocumented children now flowing across the southern border and what to do with the youngsters who already are here.
But the top priority in Congress and around the country remains clear: Secure the border first.
Because once that happens — once Americans are assured that our government has brought our borders back under control — we’ll be much better able to reach consensus on other issues.
And that would very much include the urgent issue of the moment: undocumented children.
The polling on this issue has been unmistakable. For years, majorities or supermajorities of Americans ranked “border security” first when asked about the nation’s immigration priorities.
That changed, briefly, earlier this year, after the rate of illegal border crossings reportedly had plunged. But the illegal crossings of thousands of children have pushed border security back on top.
“The current crisis on the nation’s southern border appears to be fueling a notable shift in American attitudes toward immigration policy, with border security growing in importance,” CNN reported last month.
To long-term students of American politics, that’s no surprise. “Good fences make good immigration policy,” wrote moderate-liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2006, as the 2010 editorial reported.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer agreed. “Every sensible immigration policy has two objectives,” Krauthammer wrote in 2006.
“First, to regain control of our borders so that it is we who decide who enters; and second, to find a way to normalize and legalize the situation of the 11 million illegals among us.”
Remember as well, the House vote in 2006 to build a 700-mile-long fence along five sections of the Mexican border was 260-169. That’s the kind of consensus America needs with its bedrock policies. And by committing to “Border Security First,” President Barack Obama could win strong bipartisan support.
The Grand Forks Herald’s Editorial Board formed this opinion.