Two governors. Two quotes. And an opening for Republicans this fall.
This week in Los Angeles, Gov. Jerry Brown — standing hand-in-hand with Enrique Peña Nieto as the Mexican president declared the United States “the other Mexico” — assured illegal immigrants, “You’re all welcome in California today.”
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who deployed his National Guard to compensate for President Obama’s dereliction of his constitutional duty to protect the border — has warned all summer long, “There can be no national security without border security.”
The political, policy, and cultural divide couldn’t be starker, or the resulting GOP opportunity greater. With ISIS wreaking havoc in Iraq and promising to raise its flag over the White House, anxious Americans remember well that border laxity paved the way for Sept. 11.
But to take full advantage and knock a pro-amnesty president on his heels, House Republicans need to demonstrate some bold leadership — by quickly passing an effective and comprehensive border-security bill that elevates national security as the imperative of immigration policy — over bicoastal elites’ priorities of polyglot “diversity,” “helping migrant children,” and cheap labor.
The bill needs to seal the border through an emergency moratorium on all guest-worker green cards, visas, and every form of migration — with no exceptions — while showing the door to all foreigners whose visas and green cards have expired.
These provisions would stay in force until a smart-tech, double-barrier fence is fully constructed (and fully funded) from McAllen to San Diego and Islamic terrorism has been thrown into the ash heap of history. The legislation could also fund the development of a state-of-the-art drone-surveillance system to help police the border. Other steps — including upgrading our visa and green-card tracking system, an airtight employment-verification system, and perhaps making the renting of property to the undocumented against the law, as Laura Ingraham has suggested — can wait later, for more extensive, nation-strengthening legislation. The key is to keep it simple: It’s the border, stupid!
Such measures are hardly overkill, as the emboldened ISIS presents a Pearl Harbor-level threat. As the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ranking Republican James Inhofe warns, the Islamic State is devising methods to blow up major American cities. (Not to mention, the House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry estimates that up to 3,000 of these new Nazis are on the loose, with U.S. or European passports, and could easily slip in undetected.) Meanwhile, the Senate Budget Committee’s ranking Republican Jeff Sessions has called Obama’s lackadaisical border policies, including his amnesty designs, a “security nightmare” that opens “massive enforcement loopholes that can be exploited by terrorists.”
Indeed, continued laxity could easily invite another act of Islamist barbarism at home. There’s abundant evidence that troublemakers from Yemen and Pakistan have been crossing over our border for years. Who knows how long before ISIS detonates a nuclear weapon in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles?
That’s why a tough, secure-the-border bill would resonate with the voting public, which has long demanded — in the face of repeated congressional inaction — airtight borders and immigration restriction. Kellyanne Conway finds that among likely voters this fall, 70 percent agree that illegals should go home. And a recent Gallup poll ranked “illegal immigration and illegal aliens” as the country’s No. 2 problem, with Republicans putting the issue at the top — even above Obamacare.
Prominent Republicans are already backing away from their previous eagerness to strike an amnesty deal with the president, with Sen. Marco Rubio a prominent example, thanks to Breitbart News. Among GOP Senate nominees on the campaign trail, Politico sees a tougher stance against amnesty and “immigration reform.”
Even the Washington Post observes that Democratic candidates in “nearly every closely fought Senate race,” fear the president will sabotage their election chances by issuing a blanket amnesty order. It’s all evidence that on border security, the party should follow Perry, not Brown or Nieto — or even Karl Rove or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
John Lennon may have once rhapsodized, “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do.” But unlike the British man-child of the 1960s, the American people understand with Rick Perry that there’s no “living life in peace” without border security, no America without real borders. And a GOP House willing to give voice to their concerns with a tough border-security bill will not only beat Obama at his game, but also demonstrate that Republicans are worthy to take the Senate.
— Robert W. Patterson served in the administrations of President George W. Bush and Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett.