Op-Ed

Whether with a wall or fence, this country needs to better protect its border

President Donald Trump toured border wall prototypes in March near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif.
President Donald Trump toured border wall prototypes in March near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif. Tribune News Service

On Aug. 12, 1995, Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan wrote: “Immigration is not a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to everyone and anyone in the world who wishes to come to the United States. It is a privilege granted by the people of the United States to those whom we choose to admit.”

I was a great admirer of Jordan, who surpassed many obstacles to become one of the most profound congressional leaders of our time. And even though I disagreed with her political philosophies, if she were here today, I have no doubts that she would be cringing at the current political atmosphere surrounding immigration.

This column has proven to be one that each time I begin to write, I am drawn to a different perspective and viewpoint as to how to express my beliefs and feelings as to the events currently taking place with respect to protecting our nation’s borders.

We are a sovereign nation. The Constitution in Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 grants Congress power to establish a “uniform Rule of Naturalization.” From this the “plenary power doctrine” holds that Congress has complete authority over immigration matters.

The Supreme Court has said that “over no conceivable subject” is federal power greater than it is over immigration.

I am not an attorney, nor do I profess to understand the entirety of our Constitution the way that I should. But, for purposes of this column, I find it indefensible that we have to support sanctuary states and cities within the borders of our country.

We have an established system that allows immigrants and refugees to enter the U.S. legally and adopt our culture and become a part of our society.

In California recently, a police officer who had immigrated to America, legally, was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant who, allegedly, is a professed member of a Mexican gang, and who had been arrested previously for DUIs.

He was not turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to California’s sanctuary law. Could his trespassing have been prevented by a wall? Maybe or maybe not. But he surely would not have been able to kill the young police officer had he been turned over to ICE.

The Dec. 28 Herald-Leader editorial labeled our president our “toddler in chief” for wanting to construct a wall to discourage persons from coming into America illegally.

For the record, I do support border security — a wall, a fence, or whatever it takes to protect our sovereign nation from those who choose to enter our country illegally. Do we need a better system? Yes. Should Congress work together to correct the lapses in our immigration policies? Definitely yes!

But, when Congress fails to act effectively, the president must.

There are thousands of people at the Mexican border wanting to come into the U.S. and apparently thousands more on the way. Many are opting to do so legally and are staying in Mexico for the duration of their case. However, many others have openly stated they will enter anyway they can.

What I have not heard is how will states pay for the entry of the illegal immigrants and the services they will ultimately receive. Who will pay for schooling, health care, legal representation, Medicaid, food stamps, housing, etc.?

My hope for 2019 is that our congressional leaders, on both sides of the aisle, will begin to serve our country and work for the people. We need to protect our borders. We need to provide the professional border security what they are asking for — a wall, a fence, steel slats (whatever you call it) — to protect our country.

Reach Barbara A. Ellerbrook of Lexington at baellerbrook@twc.com.

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