More than Secure Borders

News accounts of the bargaining among the Gang of 8 Senators working on draft legislation for a new amnesty have highlighted the issue of border security. The GOP Senators – notably Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – are said to be insisting on border security before illegal aliens – who would already have legal status by the amnesty – become eligible to receive ‘green cards’ (legal permanent residence) and move further along the “path to citizenship.” The accounts note a rift between the GOP members who want an objective finding that the borders are secure – perhaps by a commission of border officials – and the Democrats who characterize the border as already sufficiently secure and want the finding of that fact to come from the administration – namely Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano.

Border security is important not only because its absence allows the entry of illegal aliens, but also because it allows smuggling of narcotics and other illicit material, and because it allows the entry of individuals who pose a threat to our national security.

But secure borders is only one of three related issues. Not all illegal aliens enter illegally across the border. A significant share of the illegal alien population – estimated at one-third to half – enter the country with permission and stay illegally. They enter with visas or in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Having a system to identify illegal overstayers is not just about persons illegally taking jobs, it is also about national security. The laws requiring a comprehensive electronic entry-exit control system arose in response to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and again with the September 11, 2001 attacks. The terrorists had entered with visas and some of them had stayed illegally in the United States as they planned and executed their attacks.

Efforts to establish greater border security, such as completing the border fencing mandated by Congress will do nothing to correct the problem of the overstayers.

The outline of reform provisions released by the Gang of 8 deal with the overstay issue by stating that the long-delayed entry-exit control system (promised since 1996) needs to be completed and that a comprehensive employment verification system to deny jobs to illegal aliens be instituted.

Those reform concepts are on target, but – like with border security – who will decide when a comprehensive entry – exit system is in place? If it is left to Secretary Napolitano, she has said that a comprehensive system is not needed and it would be too costly. Similarly, who will decide when a comprehensive employment verification system is in place and effectively preventing illegal aliens from getting jobs with fake documents or through identity theft? The Gang of 8 proposal contemplates a phased in expansion of the current verification system. That means that at some point after adoption of the proposal, implementation can be rescinded or simply extended ad infinitum as the administration has done with the requirement to institute a system of secure driver’s licenses.

Given the administration’s adoption of procedures for administratively providing work documents to illegal alien youth and the system of prioritization of enforcement activities that leaves illegal aliens who have not been convicted of felony crimes secure in their illegally obtained jobs, it is not a credible authority for deciding whether workplace security or security against overstayers has been achieved. The administration by its actions has disqualified itself from being an impartial judge of these needed security standards.

The Gang of 8 negotiations are aimed at paving the way for a new general amnesty. That is an objective that is wrong-headed and inimical to the national interest, but the objectives of gaining control over the border, and control over the problem of overstayers are worth pursuing in their own right.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    The federal government has already proven it’s inability, more like refusal to secure the borders, and the American people shouldn’t lend it any credibility. The borders should have secure years ago, but for whatever reason, the feds didn’t do it. Now these morons in the Senate (Gang of Eight) think they can “blackmail”us into granting amnesty to millions of illegals, and open the floodgates to the third-world for the promise of Border security. We don’t owe you nothing!

  2. avatar

    We’re gonna get screwed on this by our elected officials, just like they’re doing on everything else.

  3. avatar

    Right on the guest workers, although it’s not just the Republicans. Schumer is one of the biggest recipients of money from the tech industry, and in true Washington one hand washes the other tradition, he’s a big proponent of more tech visas. I’m sick to death of hearing how we have to give visas to foreigners or those who went to school here and then went back home.

    Let’s look at it like we should. Let’s stop using our taxpayer funded public colleges to educate foreign nationals, to the detriment of those American kids whose marks may be high, but not high enough to gain admission. You think China would be dumb enough to train our engineers, programmers, and analysts? No, they look out for their own economic interests and don’t wring their hands over it like we do.

  4. avatar

    “The Gang of 8 negotiations are aimed at paving the way for a new general amnest”.

    And a massive expansion of guest worker programs. Indeed, what Republicans want are guest workers not amnesty They are willing to compromise with Democrats over amnesty to get their guest workers.

    • avatar
      john nwinthrop on

      However you want to call it it is simple………….all talking bu no action……………………….make a difference instead of sitting back in your couch like Romney said about you being the 47%……………just simply run for office…and I tell you what will happen ………….you will become one of them….