(Newt Gingrich) – “Control the border first” ought to be the battle cry of every citizen who is tired of leftwing elites trying to use charges of racism to blackmail us into accepting perpetually unsecured borders and amnesty for millions.
“Control the border first” is the legitimate demand of Americans concerned about national security and personal safety.
The President, as Commander in Chief, has a constitutional obligation to control the border.
However, instead of executing this duty, he has actually blocked the limited efforts of the Bush Administration, stopping the construction of a “virtual fence” until more studies can be done as to its effectiveness.
The fact that President Obama refuses to fulfill his national security obligations and instead is trying to arouse public fear and divide the country is a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of his Oath of Office.
The left, led by the Obama Administration, is lying about the Arizona immigration bill and attempting to create a new racial divide to prop up the Democratic Party in the election.
If the Arizona law established the ethnic profiling and harassment of innocent people as the New York Times and the left describes, virtually every American would oppose it.
Yet by 61% to 27%, the American people support Arizona’s efforts to eliminate illegality from their communities. There is a deep belief in America that asking people to obey the law and to be law abiding citizens is a legitimate requirement of a free society.
Americans overwhelmingly favor legal immigration. We look with pride on first generation immigrants who work hard and make America a better, more prosperous and more interesting country.
Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to assimilate first-generation immigrants from virtually every country in the world into learning English, learning American history and earning the right to be good citizens.
This has been our national heritage.
However, for over 30 years we have been trapped in a deliberate failure by the federal government to do its job to control the border.
I went back to the diaries of President Ronald Reagan (The Reagan Diaries, edited by Douglas Brinkley) and found entries beginning in 1981:
“Met with Senator Simpson re immigration. He had a great collection of fraudulent S.S. cards, drivers licenses, union cards, etc.–oh, also phony food stamps. How can we stop this kind of counterfeiting.” pp 22, June 1, 1981
“We’ve lost control of our borders.” pp 271, October 9, 1984
“It’s high time we regained control of our borders and his bill will do this.” (on Simpson’s bill) pp 445, October 16, 1986
I voted for and President Reagan signed the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration act of 1986 because we were promised:
1. Control of the border;
2. A practical, viable guest-worker program to offer a legal avenue to economic opportunity; and
3. A tough policy with American employers who broke the law for their own enrichment.
In return, the Simpson-Mazzoli Act was supposed to grant amnesty to what was then estimated to be 300,000 people.
The total number of people amnestied turned out to be 3 million.
Having given amnesty and gotten nothing in return, the American people are increasingly angry about their federal government’s failure to do its job.
The Arizona law was a reaction to Washington’s failure to protect America and keep Americans safe.
Consider Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s ad responding to President Obama’s dishonest comments.
The Border Can Be Controlled
Those who doubt that real border security is possible should consider two border patrol sectors in Arizona: Yuma and Tucson.
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl sent me statistics about these two case studies this weekend. They are proof that the right resources, properly applied, can get the job done.
Yuma and Tucson both received more National Guardsmen as part of Operation Jumpstart in 2007, as well as fencing and other technology multipliers. However, Yuma has also robustly applied Operation Streamline, a program where most illegal crossers are prosecuted with either a petty offense or misdemeanor and then sent to jail for somewhere between 15 and 60 days.
Both sectors have seen improvement, but much more so in Yuma, with apprehensions dropping from 118,000 in 2006 to 7,000 in 2009.
When you can get a 92% reduction in illegal crossings it is clear the border can be controlled.
If Washington would do its duty on securing the border first, the country would then consider common-sense reform.
Don’t blame Arizona. Instead, petition your U.S. House and Senate members to do their job so the Arizona law becomes unnecessary and irrelevant.
(Mr. Gingrich is a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. This column was originally published in Human Events.)