If Congress cared about solving the immigration crisis at the southern border, its members would be working to fix what both the left and the right wings of each party find objectionable about the bill released this week.

Instead, they are retreating and lobbing verbal grenades, resorting to the old election-year tactic of political trench warfare. Solutions are possible, but few leaders in Washington seem to care enough to fight for one.

For a while now, Texas and other states have been sending migrants in buses or airplanes to northern, Democratic-controlled cities that have designated themselves as sanctuaries. This is not a solution to the nation’s immigration crisis.

And yet Northern Democrats in those cities are not acknowledging that Texas and other border states face a legitimate crisis when millions of undocumented immigrants flood their borders and enter their territory illegally. These states absorb the brunt of this failure of the federal government, economically, and in many other ways. 

Border control agents encountered 2.5 million people crossing the border with Mexico in 2023, a new record. 

A third aspect to this crisis is that many of these migrants are escaping life-threatening situations, such as the Venezuelan refugees who are escaping torture centers like the Helicoide in Caracas. They see the United States as their hope for liberty.

And yes, a few are criminals, as those in the border town of Eagle Pass told our reporter Brigham Tomco this past week, as reported in his compelling piece: “Standoff at Eagle Pass.”

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Standoff at Eagle Pass

Unfortunately, election-year politics is proving more important than any of these issues, which can be decided only through compromises.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris poll released late last month showed that, of all the issues Americans face, none is more important than immigration. Inflation came in second. In an election year, immigration has become a hot topic.

Sadly, as has been demonstrated since the newly negotiated immigration compromise bill was released, solutions cannot be made in the political spin cycle that is Washington in 2024.

Despite assurances from conservative Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who helped broker the deal, it faces daunting opposition from both the left and right — opposition that surfaced even before the bill was released earlier this week.

Former President Donald Trump called it a “disaster” before having seen it. Utah Sen. Mike Lee called for more time to consider it — not an unusual request, considering the bill is 370 pages long. But in a post on X, Lee said it was time for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to step down. And Lee then released a statement with 12 reasons to oppose the bill.

He tweeted the bill was “a disqualifying betrayal,” “asinine,” “feels like an elaborate practical joke,” a “hot mess,” and a “crap-sandwich of a border bill.”

As the Deseret News reported, Rep. Burgess Owens applauded House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., for “declaring this bill ‘Dead on Arrival’ in the House.” Rep. Celeste Maloy and Rep. John Curtis suggested Congress should pivot away from this specific proposal because it lacks support.

Fine. But where is the path forward for a solution that can win both Republican and Democratic support?

Utah’s other senator, Mitt Romney, painted this, correctly, as an issue hijacked by politics. Trump, he said, wants Republicans to “save that problem,” so he can “take credit for solving it later.”

But delay could be a critical mistake.

No bill is perfect. It is unfortunate that this one was drafted in secret by a handful of lawmakers. But, political hyperbole not withstanding, what ought to happen next is an open debate in the Senate and House over differences, with difficult compromises and votes, and with an ultimate solution in which each side loses some, and wins some.

Don’t like this bill? Fix it.

That’s what representatives and senators are elected to do. Unfortunately, the border crisis has remained unresolved for decades. To simply retreat and lob attacks at each other now is unacceptable. It’s more of the same old evasive tactics.

Amid all this, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox joined 14 other governors and Utah House Speaker Mike Schultz at the southern border of Texas last weekend in a show of support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has invoked what he says is a constitutionally allowed power to mobilize the National Guard in defense of the state. 

Abbott is relying on a section of the Constitution that prohibits states from engaging in war, “unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Courts may have to decide whether migrants and asylum-seekers are the equivalent of an invading army. In the meantime, however, Texas National Guard troops lay razor wire at the border that U.S. border agents regularly remove.

Americans, tempered by decades of inaction, should not expect a quick resolution to the border crisis. But this time it’s more serious than that. The House has tied the border to funding for the defense of Ukraine and Israel. Those crises are no joke. They are deadly serious in the fight for freedom and liberty.

A Russian victory over Ukraine would put the security of Western Europe and the United States at risk. Israel is fighting Hamas forces that are backed by Iran, whose militant proxies already have succeeded in engaging American forces in the Middle East. The world is an increasingly dangerous place.

We urge — should we say plead? — with both parties to focus on safety and humanity and work to solve this problem. The question for opponents of the immigration bill, then, is not so much why they disagree, but what it would take for them to support it, and how they intend to get there.

The people who live along the southern border, and those who are legitimately fleeing from harm to the refuge of the U.S., deserve as much.