'Another Such Victory Will Undo Me!'*

By Stephen Steinlight on October 9, 2009
*Pyrrhus of Epirus describing his costly victory over the Romans at Asculum, 279 BC

The Hill newspaper, in "Appropriators deal blow to border fence," reports House conferees killed a $42.8 billion appropriation in the Senate's version of the 2010 Homeland Security spending bill, an amendment inserted in July by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) adopted with majority Republican support and the votes of 21 Democrats.

Killing the amendment means the requirement to "rush" the building of the fence at the Mexican border (promised by Congress in the Secure Fence Act of 2006) has been effectively mooted. Though initial plans called for the fence to cover approximately 700 miles of the 2,000 border, the GAO reported in February that less than 36 miles has been built. So much for government-in-action.

The Obama Administration opposes the rapid expansion of the fence. Rep. David Price (D-N.) gave public expression to its unstated though transparent logic when he asserted such measures associated with border security only offer "short-term solutions until Congress can consider comprehensive immigration reform." Translation: Hell, why build a fence when "comprehensive immigration reform" will mean anything goes!

Of course the failure to appropriate the funds to build the fence is an astounding abdication of the most fundamental of Washington's responsibilities, an abandonment of what most Americans rightly understand to be the most basic role of government: to provide national security and defend the nation's sovereignty. It is an open invitation to increased illegal immigration at a time when unemployment officially hovers at the 10 percent mark and six Americans compete for every job advertised. Far worse, it is a green light to jihadist terrorists and narco-terrorists to cross into the U.S. – and this at a time when domestic jihadism is growing while Mexican drug cartels are establishing bases well north of the border.

The article portrays the failure to appropriate the funds as a defeat for "immigration hard-liners." This judgment is a hasty one, at best. Coming as it does along with a three-year extension of E-Verify rather than a permanent one, it's not good news in the short term. But over the political long haul – and the political long haul can be no more than a matter of months – and in the larger context of the coming debate over "comprehensive immigration reform" it is likely the defeat of the appropriations will come to be seen as a costly victory, a Pyrrhic one, what amounts to a strategic defeat in a battle that should never have been fought.

One ploy Democratic supporters of open borders have been pursuing in recent months under the leadership of the opera buffa Machiavell, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), is feigned seriousness about border security and immigration enforcement as a tactic of mass distraction as they prepare to press for wholesale amnesty for some 11 million illegal aliens. Cutting the appropriation to expand the fence is instinctive Democratic behavior; it is their autonomic default position. But it provides the most graphic evidence the new get-tough posture of Sen. Schumer is a fraud.

By openly revealing their contempt for national security and so elemental a component of the nation state as its borders, the House Democrats with their little temporary victory have just made the president's job of convincing the nation that "comprehensive immigration reform" does not represent an assault on our security and sovereignty a great deal harder. Though it's unimaginable that President Obama will repeat the historic lines of Pyrrhus of Epirus publicly, the time may come when he will ponder them privately – as he considers what might have been.