Harrop: On border chaos, Republicans are even more to blame
Let’s have a conversation about immigration. An honest one.
In sending migrants to liberal states, the Republican governors of Florida, Texas and Arizona engaged in what even The Wall Street Journal slammed as “political stunts” that turn human beings into “political props.”
Its purpose was to blame Democrats for the current chaos at the border. The truth is that Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have stymied serious efforts, even conservative ones, to curb the flow of undocumented immigrants. Florida is every bit as much a “sanctuary state” as New York. DeSantis just doesn’t call it that.
One can argue that President Joe Biden has made the situation worse with his talk about a kinder, more open approach to immigration. His fine expressions of humanity set off a stampede of people trying their luck at the border. The vast majority of illegal entrants come here for jobs. Many simply claim asylum knowing that the clogged immigration courts won’t get them a first hearing for an average 810 days, during which time they can set roots in America.
And so how is the Republican Party at fault? Strip away its hollering about illegal immigration, and you have a party that has stopped nearly every effort to get at the root of the problem.
The only solution is to remove the job magnet, and there’s already a system in place to do that. E-Verify lets employers quickly check a database to determine whether a new hire may legally work in this country. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security runs it.
A few states mandate that all employers use E-Verify. Not Florida. DeSantis and his Republican legislature passed a law requiring only companies doing business with the state and some big private employers to use E-Verify. Left out are most restaurants, tourist operations, maintenance services, construction companies — the very businesses that employ large numbers of undocumented workers.
In his campaign, former President Donald Trump made a promise to make E-Verify mandatory nationwide. Once in office, he dropped it. His “plan” for an immigration fix made no mention of E-Verify. As Trump explained to Fox News, “E-Verify is so tough that in some cases, like farmers, they’re not — they’re not equipped for E-Verify.” In other words, it made hiring illegal labor too hard.
In 2013, the Senate passed, in a bipartisan vote, an immigration reform bill that would have required all employers to electronically verify a right to work in the U.S. As a compromise, it would have legalized the status of most undocumented immigrants already in the country.
But when the bill got to the House, then-Speaker John Boehner refused to put it up for a vote. Although it would have easily passed, the measure did not have the support of a majority of Republican members. They railed against another amnesty for “lawbreakers,” ignoring that E-Verify would have made it the last amnesty. But there was also their hush-hush campaign to keep cheap labor flowing to their business supporters. The Wall Street Journal even called for a constitutional amendment saying, “There shall be open borders.”
Look where we are almost 10 years later. If America needs more workers — and it appears it does — then it should admit more immigrants through the front door.
In the meantime, municipalities should stop declaring themselves “sanctuary cities.” And Republicans running their mouths about stopping the tide of illegal entrants should own up to their hypocrisy and actually make the hard choices.
You want to find illegal workers? Check out the kitchens in Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach. DeSantis has made sure that opportunity to evade our immigration laws continues to knock, papers not required. And that’s the truth.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.