House Republicans insist that border enforcement must be proved successful before Congress deals with the millions of immigrants now in America illegally, as well as with future immigrants. Otherwise, House Republicans claim, there will be a further influx of illegal immigrants.

In contrast, Senate Republicans passed a bill combining border enforcement with immigration reform, expanding the number of visas available and creating a temporary worker program that will fill employment gaps in America's economy.

House Republicans have it exactly backwards. Regardless of whether we erect fortified fences along our border, the number of illegal immigrants now estimated at 11 or 12 million will only grow if Congress fails to overhaul immigration law and create a temporary worker program with a path to citizenship. Most immigrants come legally by plane or car, not across an unfenced border.

Enforcement of America's borders, North and South, would take years, if such long swaths of land and river can be made absolutely secure. It would cost at least $10 billion and require hiring tens of thousands additional border patrol personnel, at an additional annual $9 billion cost. Even this would not be enough. We would also need to monitor legal visitors so that they do not overstay tourist or student visas.

In contrast, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services budget is almost $2 billion. Doubling it in order to process immigrants would cost an extra $2 billion, and tripling it would cost an extra $4 billion.These amounts are small compared with building and patrolling a wall.

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