For past several years, Republicans have repeatedly argued that they will not support comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secured. In 2006, current Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) stated that putting millions of undocumented immigrants on a path to legalization without meeting certain border security benchmarks would place “the cart before the horse.” “We spent a lot of time, effort and money getting more security on the border. But we’re nowhere close to having the kind of secure borders that Americans want,” said Boehner.
So, it comes as a surprise that Republicans are rallying behind a bundle of sharp spending cuts that include slashing $600 million from border security and immigration enforcement funds. Today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that he’s willing to defend each and every one of the spending cuts Republicans are proposing:
WALLACE: Let’s get specific, because the Democrats say, “look, it’s very easy to talk about a big number, it’s very easy to talk about a specific percentage.” But let’s get into some specific programs of what what Republicans are going to be offering this week.
Let’s look at the cuts: $3 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency; $2 billion for job training, $600 million for border security and immigration enforcement; and $1.6 billion for the National Institutes of Health; $500 million for the COPS program which puts more police on the streets.
Congressmen, when it gets down to those specifics, are you willing to defend all those cuts?
RYAN: Yes, because last year, these agencies got double and triple digit spending increases. [...] We cannot continue down this path of having double and triple digit spending increases on government agencies. No matter how popular sounding these programs are, they mortgage our children’s future and they compromise our economic growth today.
Spending on immigration enforcement has soared since 2002 from $7.5 billion to over $17 billion in fiscal year 2010. Yet Republicans have continued to demand more resources be directed at the border and enforcing immigration laws as a prerequisite to giving comprehensive reform the slightest consideration.
It’s true that throwing more money at the border without fixing the nation’s broken immigration system is a waste of limited resources and money. The border is already supposedly “safer than its ever been” and it won’t get much safer without providing economic migrants with the legal channels to enter the U.S. so border patrol can focus more on actual threats to public safety. If Republicans weren’t so intent on rejecting these well-supported facts as part of a broader effort to block comprehensive immigration reform, they might have an easier time justifying at least one of their proposed spending cuts.