Stout: Border communities have had enough of political theatrics

1 week ago 22

Those of us who reside, work, and raise our families along the border are most deeply invested in its welfare. The Texas Border Coalition understands that legislative action, not executive fiat, is the path to rectifying our broken immigration and asylum systems. Congress is responsible for enacting meaningful reforms; dead on arrival is not an option.

The Senate legislation (the bipartisan Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act) contains several commendable provisions to improve border management. Notably, it underscores the pressing need for enhanced coordination and funding for humanitarian organizations. Adding more than 4,000 asylum officers and immigration judge teams to process and adjudicate asylum cases expeditiously signifies a positive development in our efforts to rectify the shortcomings at the Southwest border, so long as the asylum process is not gutted, and due process is upheld.

However, the legislation misses the mark in addressing the essential requirements of legitimate trade and travel. Undermining free trade while pushing a flawed asylum-seeking policy is misguided. This bill overlooks a significant opportunity for our nation to enhance economic growth and reinforce our relationship with Mexico, a member of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement and Texas’ primary trading partner. This enables us to lessen our reliance on imports from China. Border closures are detrimental to border communities and, ultimately U.S. consumers, who depend on lawful trade and travel, making legislative efforts to address these critical needs imperative.

The legislation also falls short in prioritizing the allocation of resources at our southwest land ports of entry. Instead of lopsidedly continuing to largely fund only additional militarization of the border between the ports of entry, it would be wise to invest more funding to combat illicit drug trafficking, of which more than 90 percent occurs at the ports of entry. We must stop conflating immigration with the drug trade; the data shows that immigrants are not those who are bringing illegal drugs into our country; rather, it is mostly American citizens and residents.

Moreover, the legislation does not adequately address the vital workforce requirements of the U.S. economy or establish a transparent, legal pathway for immigration and asylum seekers. A comprehensive bill should provide an increase in legal pathways for people to come to the United States, including providing legal status to DACA recipients, along with a guest worker program for specific industries. Without adequate provisions to tackle these fundamental elements, the legislation undermines efforts to maintain economic growth and provide essential avenues for individuals seeking refuge or opportunities in the United States.

Border communities have had enough of theatrics. We cannot afford further delays. Congress must now muster the political courage to address the challenges confronting the Southwest border. The time for action is now.


Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by David Stout, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition (TBC) and an El Paso county commissioner. The column was written before Senate Republicans, on a technicality, killed the bipartisan Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act. TBC asked if the Rio Grande Guardian could still run the column, despite what happened in Washington, D.C. The legislation was introduced in the Senate earlier this week. Click here to watch President Biden’s reaction to the legislation.

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