Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:23AM - 136 Views

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ďSecure the borderĒ has become the new ďDrill, baby, drill.Ē


For Republicans who want to live in a fact-free world and are afraid to rile the furthest right members of their party by daring to support comprehensive immigration legislation, focusing on border security is, well, a security blanket.


Thatís why Republicans facing re-election in 2016, such as Missouriís Sen. Roy Blunt, are going back to the old canard that there is no good time to talk about fixing the broken immigration system until the border is first secure.


Never mind that the border is more secure than at any time in its history.


Never mind that Congress has increased border agents, and fences and technology, and in the process has reduced border crossings from Mexico to the United States in several states.


And never mind that President Barack Obama has been more aggressive than his predecessors when it comes to deporting undocumented immigrants.


Just as facts didnít impress the drill, baby drill-team while the U.S. was drilling for more domestic oil than at any time in its history, facts donít deter opponents of immigration reform.


Oh, and one more ďnever mindĒ: Never mind that building the sort of border fence that some Republican members of Congress are fixated on (hello, Mr. Blunt) would be so expensive that the deficit would skyrocket.


Which brings us to the state of debate over that Senate bill pushed by the bipartisan Gang of Eight. It ultimately would create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers already in the U.S. and improve the broken immigration system so that American companies can attract some of the foreign workers they need.


The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just released a financial analysis of the Gang of Eightís comprehensive immigration bill. The gang includes Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.


The legislation reduces the deficit. By a lot.


The CBO estimates that even considering the costs in the bill for, yes, increased border security, it would reduce the deficit by $175 billion between 2014 and 2023.


Remember when reducing the deficit was the GOPís holy grail? You only need to remember back to March.


At some point the Senate and House must realize that the numbers in the immigration bill add up to economic growth.


When about 8 million people in the country who arenít paying taxes start paying taxes, federal revenue increases dramatically. Also, the CBO estimates the bill will lead to a population increase of about 10 million permanent residents by 2023. Thatís 10 million people paying taxes, buying goods and services, feeding the economy.


The business community has long pushed for a fix to the broken immigration system because the businesses need both quality workers and new customers.


On Wednesday, the Senate wisely defeated an amendment to the immigration legislation from Blunt that would have required the Department of Homeland Security to have 100 percent monitoring capability along the Mexican border before the rest of the legislation would go into effect.


Thatís not a serious idea. It ignores the increased security already provided along the border.


Itís time for Republicans to get off the fence, literally and figuratively, and do something serious to help the U.S. economy and improve the lives for millions of people living in America yearning to be free.


Pass the comprehensive immigration reform and, as President Ronald Reagan did more than two decades ago, send a signal to the rest of the world that the shining city on the hill is once again open for business.


This editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday.

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