I appreciate Mr. Thompson’s taking the time to address the concerns we’ve raised. I respectfully submit, however, that in its discussion of benchmarks the administration is missing the point in the classic Washington style that elevates programs and the appearance of action over results on the ground.
Let’s say we had a rampant debt problem in a major city, which now wanted to borrow even more money. Let’s say, upon revolt by the residents, the mayor who had let things spin out of control were to say, “We are addressing our debt problem. We have benchmarks: We won’t seek new loans until the additional accountants we’ve hired are on board and the restructuring proposal we’ve made to our creditors is in place so that henceforth our payments will be more manageable.” I think the residents’ response would be: Terrific — we’ll be watching how that all works out. In the meantime, get back to us in a couple of years with some evidence that you’ve actually paid down the debt, and then we can talk about whether we trust you to borrow more money.”
The fence is fine, but it’s 370 miles of fence for a 2000-mile border, under circumstances where fence legislation was already enacted last year but very little movement was made to carry it out. And increasing the Border Patrol is fine, but (a) that means we’re up to about one border patrol agent for every thousand illegal aliens already in the country, and (b) even if the Border Patrol has increased by 5000 agents during President Bush’s time in office, the illegal alien population has increased geometrically — as my friend Mark Levin observes in a post a few minutes ago, perhaps as much as a quarter of the entire 12 to 20 million person illegal alien population entered the country since 2001 — so again you are talking about roughly 600 to 1000 new illegal aliens for every new Border Patrol agent.
Americans don’t want to hear about benchmarks that are unrelated to actual results. They want to see a sustained enforcement effort — years, not months or weeks — that results in a real, meaningful diminution in the illegal immigrant population. That would be a demonstration of commitment to manage this situation. This is a nation of immigrants and it is not suddenly against immigration. But things are out of balance, and you’ve got to prove you can get them back into balance before people willingly run the risk of schemes that could make matters much worse.
And, not to beat a dead horse, but Mr. Thompson’s response does not address my main point: Why is the illegal status of people who’ve chosen that status by knowingly and wilfully violating U.S. law our problem? I don’t see how that, as opposed to enforcement, is a crisis. It’s understandably a matter of great importance to the illegal aliens, but why should the rest of us regard it as a problem, much less a priority? And if it were, for argument’s sake, a crisis, then the first question ought to be: How and why did we let such a crisis happen?