NOTHSTINE: Why the immigration issue matters

No other issue has led to America’s current populist revolt like illegal immigration. The rise of Donald Trump, the anti-establishment backlash, crime, and terrorism, are all wrapped up — at least in part — with immigration. Border security and the rule of law are basic functions performed by competent governments. However, outside of the $20 trillion debt, no other issue better encapsulates the tone-deaf nature of Washington.The last real opportunity for meaningful federal immigration reform occurred midway through George W. Bush’s presidency. Reform acts in Congress, which provided many proactive solutions, largely broke down over amnesty. A growing backlash emerged as switchboards lit up with anger on Capitol Hill. Still, current enforcement of immigration laws go largely unheeded. Trump, who aggressively seized the issue, is now closing in on a real possibility of being elected president in seven weeks.One of the heartbreaking issues Trump claimed was the understandable grief and frustration from parents who had a child killed by illegal immigrants. Considering their lengthy criminal rap sheets, many of them should have been deported before they committed violent crimes against American citizens.In 2008, a gang member and illegal immigrant senselessly gunned down Jamiel Shaw II, a high school football star. Shaw was killed just a few blocks from his home in Los Angeles. He died in the arms of his father, who rushed to the scene after hearing the gunshots. The perpetrator had been arrested on firearm charges and for assaulting a police officer a year earlier and was released from prison early, just one day before the murder. Los Angeles is a sanctuary city in violation of federal law. Shaw’s father has said Trump is “telling the truth” on immigration.Most illegal immigrants are peaceful, of course. They are arriving in search of work and increased economic opportunity. Still, the massive influx of undocumented immigrants signals that the United States has little control over who enters the country. This is unacceptable too in the era of radical Islamic terrorism that literally seeks the destruction of the Western world.Trump has at times spoken clumsily and perhaps offensively on immigration. However, his suggestion this summer to exclude immigrants from countries that are directly linked to exporting terror until tighter measures are put in place has validity. While humanitarian assistance and resettlement is a long tradition in America, immigration policies should first and foremost benefit America’s current citizens. Just this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted she lost control of the refugee crisis, adding she wished she could “turn back time by many, many years.” The numerous attacks across Europe and the United States demonstrate the consequences of broken laws and open borders.Before there can be much needed immigration reform, there must be border security and a restoration of the rule of law. The vast majority of Americans support expanded legal immigration and understand how immigrants benefit the economy and the nation as a whole. America’s naturalized citizens often are the most patriotic and best embodiments of the American creed.Decades of erosion of the rule of law on immigration has posited a false notion that secure borders somehow does not mean a broad, liberal, and compassionate policy. Likewise, the use of immigration to erode the rule of law or as a group to harvest for political purposes only fuels disconnect between Washington and its citizenry. There is simply no excuse to delay border security and to continue making a mockery of the immigration laws.