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July 7, 2015

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No place for scare tactics in immigration

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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, recently sent out a tweet claiming that a friend’s property was being overrun with illegal border crossers — 300 each night. Cornyn has yet to identify the friend or substantiate the numbers, which would add up to 110,000 undocumented immigrants each year in this single soft spot, wherever it is.

Texas border sheriffs and the Border Patrol found the claim implausible. In fact, the Border Patrol estimates that 51,517 illegal immigrants eluded capture along the Texas-Mexico border in 2011, according to the Dallas Morning News. For the tweet to be true, more than twice as many immigrants must be entering at this one spot than can be accounted for along the entire border.

The immigrant invasion tweet is similar to other tall tales we’ve recently heard about the U.S. border: Phoenix is the second kidnapping capital of the world; drug cartel violence is “spilling over” into American streets; Mexico is a gateway for Islamic terrorism.

The idea, of course, is to paint a menacing picture of an out-of-control border, bolstering the false premise that border control must be firmly established before Congress can turn its attention to meaningful immigration reform. And, as these border myths continually show, the government will never reach a level of security that’s good enough for those opposed to immigration reform.

Reform opponents have been playing this game for quite a while. In 2007, Republican lawmakers demanded that President George W. Bush deploy four drones to scan the border, build 105 radar and camera towers, raise the number of Border Patrol agents to 20,000 and erect 670 miles of fencing. After that’s accomplished, they said, we can take up reform.

Today, according to Businessweek magazine, the U.S. has 10 border drones, 300 towers and 21,394 agents — 18,500 of them stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border. Fencing now covers 651 miles of the border, twice the length in 2009, and immigration agents have deported 1.5 million undocumented workers in the past four years, the most since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

Because of those numerous efforts and other factors, including the U.S. recession, Border Patrol apprehensions of all unauthorized immigrants are at the lowest level since 1971, according to a study by the Pew Research Hispanic Center.

But still for some, this is not enough. They say the border remains out of control; immigrants are illegally crossing all around us — in one spot 300 every night! — therefore we cannot yet take up immigration reform.

It is tragic for our nation that such attitudes persist, particularly at a time when comprehensive immigration reform appears to be within our grasp. There has been a renewed push, among both Democrats and Republicans in Washington, to reform our broken immigration system. The American people want action — 62 percent of us support reform, according to a recent poll by the Associated Press.

We certainly believe that public safety and American sovereignty are vitally important, but immigration reform is not about border security.

To the extent that we must be smarter and more focused in that effort, by all means, let’s do so. But let us not hold the fate of millions hostage to anecdotes on Twitter and unsubstantiated terrorism claims at this critical juncture.

Immigration reform is the right thing to do, the fiscally responsible thing to do and the humanitarian thing to do. Based on the role that immigrants have played in the history of our country, it is also the American thing to do.

Carlos Uresti and Jose Rodriguez are Democratic state senators in Texas. Together, they represent approximately two-thirds (820 miles) of the Texas-Mexico border. The column was distributed by the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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  1. President Obama and Janet Napolitano should stay out of the immigration reform legislation. Both are contradicting the other's statements publicly especially on border enforcement and patrol. The 8 Senators are doing a yeoman's job with crafting the legislation and moving it forward. The President and his Administration gave it only lip service in his campaign and first term. In 2007 Senator Obama killed it altogether when he introduced the poison pill [guest worker program] that killed Kennedy-McCain immigration bill. The Senate doesn't need him doing it again.

    Carmine D

  2. A liberal questioning someones math!! Thats daring. Liberal Math is worse than anything you accuse this texas rancher of...

    Lets look at Liberal Math for a second:
    Obamacare is not a tax and will not cost us anything. Liberal Lie... If we spend more money than we take in, we will balance the budget ... Liberal lie... If we tax the rich, the rich will create more jobs. If we spend more money supporting terrorists overseas, we will be safer. Cut the defense budget and North Korea will be our friends..

  3. ANY legislation that allows illegals to reside here "legally" amounts to amnesty AND confers welfare benefits. Legal immigrants are barred from receiving welfare for at least 5 years. Can't we expel any and all who have collected benefits while here illegally? Why are we continuing to pay people to invade illegally? Now, the administration says they'll get Obamacare free to them, megabillions from American taxpayers--while American workers retire to near-poverty, seniors go hungry without heat and illegals collect LIHEA utilities to heat and cool based on family size.

  4. A pathway to citizenship is a joke. Many illegals are HERE TO COLLECT WELFARE--50% are already collecting from at least one program--and that's not counting the anchor babies claimed as citizens so the "family of one" confers ALL social welfare benefits. Millions do not care about citizenship, assimilation, learning the language, participating in American culture. They just want 24/7 care as they age.

  5. Ask Your U.S. Senators to Take Their Time on Amnesty Legislation

  6. Build the fence or wall first. Then we can start the process of making people legal. If we don't it will never stop. I know people will think I'm a racist, entry level jobs should be for teenagers not illegals. If a business can't succeed without them, maybe they shouldn't be in business at all.