As Congress takes up comprehensive immigration reform, House Republicans have insisted the U.S. needs increased border security before even considering earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
However, arrests at the border have dropped dramatically in Arizona to their lowest level in 19 years, even though more agents are deployed there than ever before:
The agency reported that apprehensions dropped to 124,631, a drop of more than 43 percent in the past two years and more than 82 percent since the highest mark in 2000.
Meanwhile, the number of agents stationed in Arizona rose to its highest level, with more than 5,100 in the state:
There is no clear relationship between the 21,000 agents patrolling the border and increased security. While the U.S. spends $18 billion on immigration enforcement, border crossings are at a 40-year low with net undocumented immigration at or below zero.
The Arizona Daily Sun recently warned against sidelining immigration reform with too many prerequisites for border security, arguing, “it is no longer justifiable to hold immigration reform hostage to an undefined “secure” border because of federal inaction.” The Arizona Republic wrote, “The plan devotes a great deal of emphasis to border security, promising more resources for an effort that already has seen years of extensive expenditures on infrastructure, technology and Border Patrol agents.”
Even Republicans, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), admit that the border is more secure than ever before. Meanwhile, there is more than enough economic and historic evidence for why the debate needs to focus on citizenship, and not border enforcement.