Opinion: Congressional attempts at border-control face concrete wall from voters
OPINION COLUMN BY NICK KINTOP —
The U.S. has many dire problems currently: A deficit continuing to spiral upwards toward the $20 trillion mark, a continued and increasingly disastrous involvement in Afghanistan, the disturbing rise in the fame of One Direction and a constantly divided Congress are only a few of these crises. Despite this shockingly precarious national situation, President Obama has opted to make the somewhat dubious decision to make the never-ending political quagmire of illegal-immigration control the main focus of the Federal Government during his second term.
While the Federal Government has a duty to attempt to provide national security from external threats, improved healthcare and fair wages to ensure the protection of its citizens, border control has traditionally fallen predominantly under state jurisdiction, and rightly so.
With the exception of certain questionable and slightly authoritarian provisions such as SB1070, this state autonomy in dealing with border control has thus far been more success than failure. While Congress has remained in perpetual gridlock on the issue for more than a decade, illegal crossings of the border have fallen as much as 50 percent since 2001 in some parts of southern states, Arizona included. In a bold leap of faith, the Obama Administration has decided to blindly and optimistically forge ahead in its push for national legislation that disregards Congress’ history of continued inability to deal with this problem and once again invoke the beneficent hand of the Federal Government to solve this conundrum.
As can be expected, problems have already risen. State authorities are already locked in legal fisticuffs with Capitol Hill on the issue of unmanned drones being used to patrol the border and their very real potential to violate the privacy of innocent civilians. To further complicate the already degrading dialogue between the governments of various southern states and Congress, local constituents on both sides of the aisle are showing a mild dissatisfaction with this new federal intervention against illegal immigration, as Arizona Senator John McCain can begrudgingly attest.
McCain, who has repeatedly attempted and failed to spearhead bipartisan efforts in Congress to address border control found his proposals to be greeted with a somewhat tepid response—to put it mildly—from Arizona residents in his two recent town hall meetings that were meant to assuage voters, and to explain to them exactly what the Federal Government has up its sleeve to solve this seemingly unsolvable problem. The most notable sound bites that emerged from the meetings include (but are not limited to) concise defenses of Congressional involvement such as, “It’s not a fence, it’s a Banana. We’ve put up 600 million dollars in appropriations for a Banana,” and heartfelt dialogue between citizen and democratically elected representative like, “I’m in charge, you’re not.”
To be fair, Senator McCain—along with many others participating in this new effort at border control—have merited intentions. The symbolic value of a Congressional bipartisan effort for anything is admirable in and of itself, yet despite the influx of representatives from Capitol Hill and the Obama Administration, Congress is having a hard time selling this plan when there are so many larger problems facing this country that the Federal Government has a responsibility to solve. Many voters see this as yet another misallocation of government time, resources and taxpayer dollars. Only time will tell if the proposed solutions of this initiative hold any clout, or have any effect other than to further reduce the popularity of the Legislature to levels comparable with various STDs. Whatever happens, the stark resistance on this issue from many citizens illustrates again a detachment between the Federal Government and the people inexcusable to ignore.