Our state is taking a beating over our nation’s broken immigration system. Unfortunately, we’re hearing a lot of rhetoric and campaign pandering on this issue. Here’s the truth: securing the border is about more than guards and fencing.
There are thousands of guards at the border and right now we’re using them for an expensive round of catch and release, and baby-sitting. The barrage of children and families crossing our border isn’t eluding our guards, they’re running towards them. The Obama Administration’s policy is essentially complicit with human smuggling cartels; coyotes get children to the border and the administration picks up where the coyotes leave off, transporting children to others in the U.S.
We need a border fix that punches beyond the obvious security measures. Of course we need guards, technology and infrastructure, and our federal government should pay for it! This, as the Supreme Court has ruled, is their area of authority and responsibility.
But at this juncture, the Obama Administration must realize its policies are actually empowering cartels. To protect children and stem the flow, we must prioritize the hiring of judges to provide immediate deportation hearings for this latest wave of illegal border-crossers. To send a clear message that will protect children, Central Americans must see planes with illegal immigrants coming home.
Make no mistake, I understand this is a humanitarian crisis as well. I support Senators Flake’s and McCain’s effort to issue additional asylum applications. Those applications should be filled out in the petitioners’ home country though. Only in the Obama Administration do you fix a foreign policy crisis by making it a domestic policy crisis.
When we learned of the dumping of adults with their children in Arizona, I advocated for the use of an Expedited Removal Process, available under current law. If the president can use his executive authority to establish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he can certainly use his similar authority to send a clear signal to the cartels that the U.S. will no longer be partners in their human smuggling chain.
Senators Flake and McCain proposed a legislative resolution to this crisis. I support their effort and further suggest this policy outline:
1. Invest in more guards, customs agents and infrastructure at the border to promote legal trade and stop illegal activity.
2. Immediately hire more judges to adjudicate the cases of the 50,000-plus unaccompanied Central American minors to send them home as soon as possible.
3. Increase the number of asylum applications for each of the affected countries by 5,000.
4. When the 50,000 have been returned, enact the Dream statute to address the population of immigrant children long settled in the United States.
No state in the nation will benefit more by creating a rule of law at our border and increasing legal trade with Mexico and Latin America than Arizona.
As governor, I will lead to solve our immigration crisis, pushing for real solutions. My opponents in the governor’s race have offered only empty rhetoric, attempting to fleece Arizona voters with non-solutions. Look to my record though, and you will see that I have led in times of crisis, I have balanced budgets while increasing public safety, I have engaged to solve the critical issues our communities face. As governor, I will bring this resolve and experience. I ask for your vote, a vote for real solutions.
• Scott Smith is the former mayor of Mesa and a candidate for governor in the Republican primary.