BOSTON (CBS) — Discussions surrounding the federal government shutdown also must mention the immigration and border wall debate. On Sunday, Jon Keller brought in an immigration expert to analyze the issue.
Jessica Vaughan is from the Center For Immigration Studies [CIS]. She described the think tank as a non-partisan research institute based in Washington D.C. that believes “current immigration levels are too high and that we have too much illegal immigration in particular and that we need to find immigration policies that better serve the national interest and that avoid disadvantaging the people who are harmed by the policies that we have today.”
The Trump administration has claimed that thousands of terrorists have tried to pass through the border over the last year. Other reports claim that number is closer to 20, the CIS among them.
“I think they really did botch the expression of those numbers. It’s true that we need to be concerned about terrorists taking advantage of our vulnerabilities at the border. There have been some terrorists caught trying to enter the country illegally and there have been terrorists caught inside our country illegally,” said Vaughan.
She continued, “The numbers are not that large, that’s the important thing. There are a lot of people we have concerns about, but they aren’t all streaming over the southern border as part of the caravan.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign season, Vaughan told Keller it was unrealistic to fence the entire border and it would be a waste in certain areas. Years later, she feels the same.
“We need better barriers in certain places. The images of the people in the caravan trying to go through and over these obsolete landing mats that they used for fencing back in the 1990s, that’s got to be changed and upgraded. But we certainly don’t need barriers across the whole border. There are better ways, more bang for the buck, we can get for taxpayer dollars.”
So would a reasonable compromise on the immigration issue look like?
Vaughan said, “It must be something narrow and not trying to do too many things at once. . . They should keep it focused on border security. There are really needs to address this problem that we have at the southern border with growing numbers of people showing up with children at the border. We need to stop enticing people to do this dangerous trek and arriving here because they think they are going to be released into the country. It’s a burden on communities and dangerous for them. So we need resources, more border patrol agents is something that I think everyone could agree on, more resources for the government agencies to deal with families as opposed to single adults coming: [processing them], meeting their medical needs as they arrive with them, and taking better care of them. I think we do need some more barriers and I think the Democrats should give in on that and that way they can say, ‘well we kept the president from building this silly concrete statute at the border.'”
She added that neither Democrats nor President Trump will get everything they want out of this deal. “The important thing is to put something toward border security to help solve this problem. But really, there’s only so much that can be done on this spending bill or by executive action,” Vaughan said, eventually it will be up to Congress to dig deeper into the laws and get to the root of the issue.