Last night President Bush announced that members of the National Guard will begin assisting in protecting our borders with Mexico. The Guard units will not perform law enforcement duties but rather assist in monitoring and surveillance of the border where thousands of illegal Mexican immigrants cross daily. Many people - including this humble columnist - advocated this move almost a year ago. But regardless of the timing, this marks an important statement and first step in controlling immigration into our country.
Mexican President Vicente Fox called Bush on Sunday to express concern about a "militarized" border between the two countries. If Fox and the Mexican government had done their job, none of this would be necessary.
The Mexican government thinks the issue of illegal immigration is an American problem and not of their making. Perhaps we need to give inmates in U.S. prisons the option of leaving prison if they promise to cross the Mexican border and not return. Maybe we need to take the poorest of the poor in this country and encourage them to emigrate to Mexico.
We hope and pray that the National Guard troops are able to help stem the tide of illegal immigration. We seek no confrontation and pray no one is harmed in any way. But we need to enforce our laws that pertain to immigration and you do that by stopping the flow of illegal traffic day and night.
Had Bush wanted to take it a step further, he could, and perhaps should, have announced that Guardsmen will no longer be sent to Iraq. There are more pressing problems at home. That would reduce our forces in the Mideast and put those resources much closer to home. I recognize we don't want to spread our active military too thin around the world. But you know what? Maybe we can't solve all of the world's problems and maybe it's time we start taking care of the home front.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist had it right. He said all of the efforts we have made in the past to work with the Mexican government on the issue of immigration have failed. We have no other choice. We don't need a fence. We need armed men, willing and able to defend our borders, to stand guard against this explosion of illegal immigrants.
But let me briefly return to another point I have made on countless occasions. While we put National Guardsmen potentially in harm's way on the Mexican border, we also need to begin slamming the jailhouse doors on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. Without ready jobs here, immigration will decrease. And it takes someone writing that paycheck for those jobs to exist.
I noticed they jailed four employers in Kentucky this past week for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. Enforce that policy and the need for Guardsmen will decrease rapidly.