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24 Feb 2024
Joe Penland

NextImg:The Border and the Debt

According to the Washington Examiner, more than ten million people illegally crossed our border and entered the United States between the time President Biden took office in 2021 and October 2023. This number exceeds the population of 41 U.S. states, and it happened in a period of less than three years. Polls consistently show that Americans view this as an invasion, and they want to secure our border.  

We continue to hear about all of the problems related to our open border, such as national security concerns, human trafficking concerns, the burden on states and municipalities, crime, illegal drugs, and a host of other concerns. There are also significant financial costs attached to the crisis at our border, but we seldom hear about how much this is costing taxpayers. 

In November 2023, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green released a report stating that the annual costs for our open borders could run as high as $451 billion per year. Among the things included in these calculations are “the costs for health care, shelter, education, and law enforcement, as well as costs forced on private property owners and businesses.”

During a recent interview, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stated what many other experts have been saying, that the U.S. is on an “unsustainable” path with regard to spending and debt. Ongoing expenses of the U.S. were already overburdened before our current border crisis began adding almost a half-trillion dollars per year to the taxpayer tab. 

If you believe that politicians would want to address this issue, given the fact that this is an election year and voters are in an angry mood regarding the border, you would be correct. However, in typical Washington fashion, many of the politicians are less interested in solving the problem than they are in passing a law to make voters think they are actually doing something. A case in point is a bipartisan bill that Democrats, along with a few Republicans, recently attempted to pass in the U.S. Senate under the claim that it would secure the border.  

“Senate negotiators have finally released the text of a “deal” they’ve been hashing out for two months to trade $61 billion in foreign aid to Ukraine for border 'reforms.' There’s some good in that bill and a lot of bad — much of it so expertly written that it would take thousands of words to explain why it’s bad,” the Center for Immigration Studies said about the bill on February 5. The National Sheriff’s Association also expressed concerns about the bill, stating that “we have a crisis at our American Borders which this legislation fails to address.”

Despite what many politicians seem to think, the American people are not dumb. Based on polls, they seem to have a clear understanding of two things. First, they understand that the current border crisis began when Joe Biden took office and immediately reversed some of the border policies of the prior administration that were working well. Additionally, they understand that the border issue has now been raging for over three years and that many of the same politicians who have been openly supportive of Biden’s policies led the charge to try to pass a “border security” bill in an election year. In short, voters were skeptical of this effort because they believe Biden already has the ability to solve the border crisis and that this bill was more about the election than it was about solving the problem. 

Unsurprisingly, this “border” bill move by Washington did not even seem to really be about the border, at least not from the standpoint of where the money would have gone. The price tag of the bill was $118 billion, which would have been borrowed money since the United States is running a deficit. The amount that would go to border security would have been just over $20 billion. The majority of the remaining funds would have gone to Ukraine ($60 billion), Israel ($14 billion), humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and Gaza/West Bank ($10 billion), Indo-Pacific countries ($4.83 billion), and U.S. Central Command ($2.4 billion). 

Americans traditionally have been, and I believe still are, pro-immigration. They do believe though that people should follow the law when coming to this country. Legal immigration processes provide an opportunity for those who want to come to this country to be scrutinized for security purposes. We have all seen news stories about criminal behavior, some of which has been extremely violent, committed by those who have crossed our border without permission. There is also a real concern that terrorists have entered our country through our porous borders.

Although our hearts should go out to those who want to come here for a better life, we should always make sure this happens in a controlled, legal manner rather than through the chaos we are currently experiencing on our southern border. The costs of the current situation, from both a human and financial standpoint, are too high.  Borrowing billions of dollars to fund a new bill passed in Washington would only increase our debt, not solve our current border crisis. President Biden and his administration already have the tools to solve this crisis, they just need to get serious and get it done.

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