Congress Must Prioritize Border Security In Budget Showdown


September 21, 2023

By Dale Wilcox

Funding for the U.S. government is set to expire at the end of September, and any new budget must include a plan to secure the nation’s besieged southern border.

The current budget fight is the first one to take place since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives during the 2022 midterm elections, and like all budget battles that take place during a period of divided government, it will be messy and compromises will have to be made.

However, it is responsible and reasonable for Congress to draw a line in the sand on immigration, and insist that changes are made before they approve a new budget. That is exactly what 15 members of Congress from the state of Texas—which has born the brunt of the ongoing border crisis—have done, making clear they will not support any budget that allows the status quo to continue at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The members’ demands include increased resources for the military to take on the cartels, and reimbursement for the state of Texas for its Operation Lone Star program, which has sought to mitigate the damage caused by Joe Biden’s anti-border policies.

These demands are perfectly reasonable and Congress must ensure that they are met or exceeded before they approve a budget that will last until next fall. As of October 2022, more than 5.5 million migrants crossed our borders since Biden took office. According to CBP data, that number today is more than 8 million.

This surge of foreign nationals at the southern border is not relenting, and thousands continue to come in every single day. While the executive branch holds much of the power over immigration policy, it is Congress that holds the power of the purse, and they must use it here.

The primary function of the federal government is to protect the safety and security of the American people, and that starts with securing the border

Despite the endless carnage emanating from the southern border that is now straining even far-away major cities, the Biden Administration has been defiant in defense of its failed policies. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has repeatedly lied to Congress and the American people, claiming the border is secure, and shows no concern over the damage his policies have wrought.

Meanwhile, new reporting has revealed that Biden himself is well aware of the failures of his administration, but is content to demure to the anti-border forces in the White House when it comes to policy. The Biden Administration realizes the error of their ways, but they are still pressing ahead with their agenda. The only way to stem the catastrophic security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border is for Congress to withhold funding until certain conditions are met.

Nobody wants to see a protracted government shutdown that could potentially harm working people who have nothing to do with the border crisis. But, the primary function of the federal government is to protect the safety and security of the American people, and that starts with securing the border. A government that refuses to fulfill such a basic responsibility deserves to be starved of funding until it does.

Of course, like everything that takes place in Washington, D.C., this budget showdown will be more driven by political considerations than any sort of constitutional duty. However, even if members of Congress are only concerned with the political consequences of a potential shutdown, they are still on solid ground. Poll after poll has shown that the American people oppose the Biden Administration’s immigration policies, and want to see changes.

An Associated Press poll conducted this summer found that two-thirds of Americans feel the government is not listening to their priorities on the immigration issue, and there are many other data points which corroborate this sentiment. Now is the perfect opportunity for Congress to restore the public’s faith in the government’s ability to fulfill its essential duties. If Congress does its job to ensure the border is secure, and the White House refuses to cooperate, then members of Congress can press forward knowing they have the broad support of the American people.

As Ronald Reagan said: “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.” If the federal government cannot get a handle on the crisis at the border, then all of the fighting taking place over other issues will be rendered meaningless. Congress must give the Biden Administration an ultimatum: Shut down the border or we’ll shut down the government.

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Also published at AMAC, September 20, 2023.

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