Border posturing

President Barack Obama ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border Tuesday, allegedly to help alleviate problems for border states such as Arizona, which is besieged with crime caused by illegal immigrants.

Except that it isn’t. Violent crime in Phoenix, for instance dropped 17 percent last year, more than most large cities in the country, according to the latest FBI statistics. Even a border town like Nogales reports no avalanche of immigration-related crime.

Furthermore, Obama’s National Guard edict is little more than political posturing on what has suddenly become a hot-button issue once again. It will do virtually nothing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into this country.

What’s needed is a thorough revamping of our immigration policies to make legal immigration for temporary workers more available and attractive — both to people wanting to come to this country and businesses that seek to employ them. Also needed is better tracking of those who come here legally so they don’t overstay their visas.

Revamping our immigration policy does not mean embracing a universal amnesty policy for the millions of illegal immigrants already here. Nor does it mean building something akin to the Berlin Wall across 2,000 miles of our southern border — a budget-busting proposition that still wouldn’t end illegal immigration.

But formulating a new, sustainable policy will take time, and will inevitably require some changes.

Meanwhile, those who fear that immigrants come here primarily to engage in criminal rampages should read things like the December 2009 Commentary article, “Higher Immigration, Lower Crime,” by Daniel Griswold of the libertarian CATO Institute. He and others make a strong case that immigrants — legal or illegal — actually commit less crime per capita than U.S. citizens.

Illegal immigration is a problem that requires action. But overheated rhetoric about non-existent crime spikes and political posturing with the National Guard won’t solve it.


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