Border communities and Dreamers are both victims of thoughtless obstructionism at the hands of the Trump administration. Take the current negotiations to protect Dreamers in exchange for border enforcement, which seemed to have reached an impasse over a useless wall and other immigration provisions.
But there is a way forward.
There are two moderate, wall-less bipartisan companion bills in the House and Senate that would provide a balanced approach to both a Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) fix and border enforcement.
Introduced in the House by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (R-Texas), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote First senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List MORE (D-Calif.) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBottom line Bottom line Business groups breathe sigh of relief over prospect of divided government MORE (R-Calif.) and in the Senate by Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' Grant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Will Trump choose megalomania over country? MORE (R-Ariz.) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsGlasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Manchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals MORE (D-Del.), the Unifying and Securing America (USA) Act would offer immigrant youths a pathway to citizenship along with a data-driven evaluation and cost analysis — per linear mile — of the resources truly needed for border enforcement. These proposals also suggest the use of surveillance technologies, with adequate privacy protections, as a better and more effective alternative to a concrete wall.
Although we do not believe any more border enforcement is needed, these proposals lay out a process for assessing what, if any, additional enforcement is appropriate — and do so in consultation with border communities and other stakeholders. Both proposals rightly remove Trump’s vanity project, the border wall. The wall not only represents a costly and ineffective solution, but also would prove damaging to the environment and several endangered species; would rip away land from private U.S. landowners; and would cause life-threatening flooding.
Nearly nine out of 10 Americans support a permanent solution for DACA recipients, while six out of 10 oppose a border wall. If the people’s voices were heard, these bills likely would pass if congressional leadership simply allowed them to go to the floor for a vote.
But the main obstacle to these bills is a fear-mongering and nativist administration, supported by a few congressional members who —with no regard for how the public feels and with no real input from border communities — declare these bills non-starters for failing to fully fund the wall.
The president and Congress would be smart to check in with border communities, get a dose of reality, and narrow their negotiations to what is really needed.
Communities along the U.S./Mexico border are home to 15 million people. These communities are culturally and socially vibrant, serve as a gateway for trade that strengthens our nation’s economy, and are among the safest in the nation. Apprehensions of unauthorized border crossers are at historic lows, and even the Department of Homeland Security has stated that the border is more difficult to cross than ever before.
Furthermore, in the past two decades, anti-immigrant policymakers have used a negative narrative about the border to justify the exponential growth in border enforcement resources, including the doubling of Border Patrol agents, almost 700 miles of fencing, and all sizes and shapes of surveillance technologies. The fear incited by this rhetoric, which didn’t start with Trump, is responsible for countless immigration checkpoints located miles away from the actual border. These checkpoints interfere with local families’ ability to go to a doctor’s appointment or school without suffering the indignities of racial profiling, or worse.
In short, we don’t need a border wall. What we need is a narrow, commonsense approach that ensures that border policies are based on facts, not fiction. This is why these newer Senate and House proposals are the right approach.
Vicki Gaubeca is policy and communications strategist with the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Follow her on Twitter @vgaubeca.