Do not confuse legal immigration with illegal immigration. America is a very generous nation. We accept more than 1.1 million legal immigrants every year, far more than any other country. However, unwilling to comply with our legal immigration system, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens cross our southern border every year. We do not know the exact number of people that reside here illegally, but estimates range from 10 million to 20 million. This unlimited supply of cheap labor holds down wages and steals jobs from hard-working, law-abiding Americans. It is one of the reasons our middle class hasn’t grown or gotten a raise in decades. The most affected are the most vulnerable – those at the bottom of the income ladder. In a 2015 study, Harvard Professor George Borjas found that competition from low-skilled immigrants has reduced entry-level middle class wages by $800 to $1,500 each year.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi loves to complain about income inequality. Well, we have a chance to do something about it. Stop the endless flow of illegal labor and watch wages rise. In 2017, 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, up 100 percent over a decade, and it’s accelerating. Think about this: The drug epidemic kills more Americans than traffic deaths and homicides combined. The scourge of drug deaths may not be new, but it is exploding across America as gangs and drug cartels become more adept at exploiting our porous southern border. Drug Enforcement Administration reports confirm that 300 Americans die every week from heroin, 90 percent of which comes across our southern border.Our failure to control our southern border is a national disgrace and Americans are paying the price. Unfair competition from illegal workers has diminished our middle class. The flood of illegal narcotics has brought misery and death to thousands of AmericansIn 2017, 134 of these opioid-related deaths were in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which I represent. I asked local law enforcement officers how these deadly drugs are getting into the hands of my constituents. Their answers echoed fellow officers, border officials and drug enforcement agents across the country: the southern border. As President Trump has said, the status quo response to the crisis at our border is no longer effective. Democrats claim they’re for border security but refuse to take any action or even participate in good faith negotiations. Mrs. Pelosi’s best and only offer was an additional $1 toward border security. Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Barack Obama voted in favor of a border wall in 2006. Why are they against border security now? Is their hatred for Mr. Trump stopping them from doing what is best for their constituents?They see this as a political game that they want to win, but at what cost?Democrats are attempting to make this argument solely about a wall, even though Mr. Trump has repeatedly said we do not need a wall for the entirety of the 2,000-mile border. The $5.7 billion passed by House Republicans in December provided for enhanced border security, not just a wall. The administration’s comprehensive border security strategy calls for funds to hire more personnel on the ground, implement innovative detection technology and provide additional judges to address the court backlog. Border infrastructure will be built where it is necessary and effective, like in Yuma and San Diego, where apprehensions have dropped over 90 percent since the construction of a barrier.The Yuma Border Sector had the highest number of illegal crossings in the country before a barrier was built, resulting in a 95 percent decrease in apprehensions and a 91 percent decrease in crime. San Diego County, once “ground zero” for illegal immigration, has seen a 92 percent decrease in apprehensions since a fence was constructed.Furthermore, any meaningful plan to deal with illegal immigration must require employers to verify the employment status of the workers they hire and penalize the employers if they break these rules. This system, called E-verify, is already in place and maintained by the federal government. Amazingly, employers are not required to participate. Mandatory E-verify is just one of the top priority reforms that is needed to fix our broken immigration system.It is time to stop the politics and secure our border.Democrats are terribly worried about who gets blamed for the shutdown. Frankly, I don’t care who gets the blame. This is a fight to keep drugs off our streets and out of the hands of our children. It’s a fight to keep our communities safe. It’s a fight for higher wages for hard-working Americans and for our economy.It’s a fight worth having.Published in Daily Times, January 17th 2019.