1Center for American Progress | The “Border Security First” Argument: A Red Herring Undermining Real Security
The “Border Security First” Argument:A Red Herring Undermining Real Security
Assessing DHS Progress and Looking Forward
Marshall Fitz, Angela M. Kelley, Ann Garcia March 2011
Opponens o comprehensive immigraion reorm argue ha we need a ully secure bor-der beore we can sysemically overhaul our immigraion laws. Ironically, he “bordersecuriy rs” manra is acually hwaring progress on border securiy.Te argumen o delay broader immigraion reorms unil he border is secure relies onhe ollowing dubious assumpions:
Congress’s curren “operaional conrol” sandard—implying absolue conrol o heborder—is realisic and achievable.
Te American public will rejec pracical legislaive reorms unless and unil he bor-der isully secured.
Te adminisraion has ailed o demonsraeadequae commimeno borderenorcemen ojusiy broader reorms.Te evidence belies each o hese poins, and his brie examines hem in urn. I alsoshows—as he Cener or American Progresshas done beore—ha he Deparmen o Homeland Securiy, or DHS, me and exceeded sringen enorcemen benchmarks ha“border securiy rs” supporers laid ou in legislaion ha ailed o pass Congress in 2007.I is pas ime o pu aside his ired expression and sar working oncomprehensivesoluions o x he sysem.
“Total control” is impossible
Some grandsanding lawmakers sugges ha nohing shor o “oal conrolo our souh-ern border, our norhern border, and our naural pors o enry” will suce o declare ourborders secure. Bu no serious exper believes i is possible o seal our borders.
“At some point intime, you’ve got tosay to yoursel, we’renot sending 12million people home.Now, let’s get over it.”
– Tom Ridge,the country’s rst secretary o Homeland Security