Finley: Forget the wall, enforce the law

Nolan Finley

Turns out you don’t need a wall when the law will do just fine.

That’s the message President Donald Trump should be touting as he seeks to assure his base that he’ll enforce the nation’s borders and eliminate illegal immigration.

He basically can check the box. Job done, or nearly so.

Since Trump took office last November, illegal entry into the country along the southwestern border is down 76 percent.

The number of unaccompanied children crossing into the country, which soared after former President Barack Obama stopped sending them back to Central America, has dropped to a trickle.

And all of it has occurred without laying a single brick for Trump’s infamous border wall, or deploying the legions of new border guards he’s promised.

The Homeland Security department credits Trump’s tough talk on illegal immigration, combined with a new commitment to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants.

“When you get here, it is likely you are going to get caught. You are going to be returned to your country,” department spokesman David Lapan told the Washington Times.

Trump should seize this moment. Declare a win in a battle that has overwhelmed previous presidents. Take a victory lap and then triumphantly walk back from the fantastical idea of building a border wall that he’ll somehow get Mexico to pay for.

All he has to do is tell his supporters he delivered on his campaign promise and in the process saved them the 10 or 20 billion dollars the barrier would cost. He could send that money instead to the states that put him over the top in the 2016 election, including Michigan, to fix their broken roads. Everybody would be happy.

But instead Trump is sticking fiercely to his plan for building a wall, even to the point of threatening a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t approve the initial funding.

“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump said last week at his Phoenix rally.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says a short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution, is likely necessary to keep the federal government running beyond September.

Even if Ryan manages to insert wall funding in the House version of the resolution, it will set up a face-off in the Senate, where Republicans are not likely to hold their majority caucus together. Too many GOP senators have to run for re-election next year, and they know the president doesn’t have enough support to cover their backs for such a controversial vote.

And aside from political considerations, many Republicans think the wall is a goofy idea.

And so the government will shut down, if Trump sticks to his threat.

Republicans are kidding themselves if they think they can plop the blame on Democrats. Republicans always get the blame in these spending stand-offs. And with Trump in the White House, they’ll take 10 times the heat.

And it’s just so unnecessary. Trump has proved that enforcing existing laws can corral illegal immigration.

Celebrate that win and back away from the wall.

Nolan Finley’s book, “Little Red Hen: A Collection of Columns from Detroit’s Conservative Voice,” is available from Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble Nook.

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN