At this point, any fair-minded observer of our contemporary politics who does not conclude that our full-on border security and migrant influx crisis is anything other than the most urgent and dire national issue is, to be blunt, delusional. We are experiencing monthly border crossing/apprehension numbers not seen in decades, and our political elite’s failure to properly deter, demagnetize, and ultimately secure our beleaguered southern border ultimately serves the financial interests of the paramilitary transnational criminal organizations that the mainstream press generally still refers to as “Mexican drug cartels.”
Hold aside for a second the absolutely horrific recent revelation that up to 80% of women trafficked from the Central American “Northern Triangle” up through Mexico are abused and raped by the piggish cartel thugs — the broader reality, as Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas wrote way back in 2013, is that our liberal asylum regime and mass catch-and-release status quo “successfully complete[s] the mission of the criminal conspiracy” fostered by the cartels, human smugglers, and trafficking rings. Our porous border — and all the accompanying deadly narcotics, infectious diseases, and Special Interest Aliens from the Middle East that flood over that border daily — literally finishes the work of Hezbollah-linked paramilitary rapists lurking south of the Rio Grande.
But from a broader perspective, the reality is that border security is always among the most solemn duties of the federal government. And it is important to understand why.
When the states formed the new federal government — it was not, of course, the other way around — following the 1787 constitutional convention that sweltering Philadelphia summer, the states delegated to the new government carefully delineated powers. As James Madison, in The Federalist No. 45, famously phrased it: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” But the totality of Article I, § 8’s carefully prescribed congressional powers that deal with “calling forth” and “disciplining” the militia, combined with “the executive power” and commander-in-chief prerogative of which Article II speaks, makes clear that the predominant responsibility for securing the republic against foreign foes falls in the hands of the unifying federal government that the states created. As a purely logical matter, this ought to make a great deal of intuitive sense: The government primarily responsible for defending the collective security of the entire United States must, by definition, be the government expressly established to govern on behalf of that same collective entity.
But what is border security if not a mere extension of national security? It is true that, in our federalist system of dual sovereignty, the states are quasi-sovereign actors: As Justice Antonin Scalia noted in his brilliant 2012 dissent in Arizona v. United States, an individual state’s sovereign status necessarily means that it retains an ability to secure its own borders and exclude unwanted aliens, regardless of whether the federal government also secures that individual state’s own borders. But the responsibility to secure our nation’s international borders falls, first and foremost, with the federal government. The primary responsibility to secure our ranchers against the predations of transnational paramilitary criminal organizations and human smuggler thugs falls to our federal government. The primary responsibility to preclude the smuggling in of lethal contraband, like the de facto chemical warfare that is fentanyl, falls to the federal government. The primary responsibility to thwart the cartels’ “criminal conspirac[ies]” — rather than to “complete” them, as Judge Hanen warned — falls to the federal government. The primary responsibility to handle the nuanced underlying diplomacy and hard-nosed tactics alike that come with dealing with the venal Mexican narco-state is something that falls to the federal government.
Above all else, the primary responsibility to ensure that the United States — for which We the People that the Constitution’s Preamble references are the ultimate sovereigns — remains a distinct and sovereign nation-state falls to the federal government. And, by very definition, a country with insecure and/or undefined borders not only cannot be sovereign — it is hardly a country at all.
If we do not secure our borders — if we do not secure ourselves, more generally — then what do we have left as a nation?
The federal government is presently failing to properly counter the hitherto unprecedented Central American migrant deluge that inundates our border daily. That is nothing short of tragic, because our continuing status as a nation-state depends on rectifying that glaring deficiency. And it is the federal government’s solemn responsibility to take the lead in securing our sovereign viability as a nation-state. Let’s hope they get it right sooner rather than later.