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The immigration issue is again firing up the front pages and round the clock newscasts and, of course, talk radio. I'm certain what I'm about to say will provoke a certain tonnage of hate mail, but here goes.

Too many people are focusing on the wrong thing. I see all these stories: Illegals suck up local tax dollars like vacuums; Illegal kids shouldn't have health care. So far it's all about whether illegals add to or drain the economy.

The problem with focusing on the 12 million who are here illegally is we don't focus on the next 12 million. At this moment, people who are fired up about illegal immigration should care about one thing and one thing only: the border. Is it open or is it closed? It's a simple yes or no question.

If it is open, it must be closed. If and when it is closed, we can turn around and deal with the issue of the illegals among us. But if we spend all our time now arguing about the 12 million who are here and leave the border open, we're going to wake up one morning and find another 12 million are here and now we have a debate about what to do about 24 million illegals.

Congress should do nothing until it has funded whatever needs to be done to close the border, and fund whatever needs to be done to chase down people who are visa overstays. Those are the two methods by which illegals enter the country, and it seems to me that nothing will be solved until those two problems are solved.

Visa overstays are especially frustrating to me. Even if we close the border, people from countries that actually get visitor visas are at least half of the total of illegals here. Seems to me that if we're letting someone in this country legally to visit, we ought to be able to do things to make certain we can find them later.

As for the border, let me just remind my conservative viewers who want the 12 million kicked out or rounded up, this conversation plays right into the hands of advocates of the illegals because it distracts you from closing the border, and advocates for illegals want that border open.

Keep your eye on the ball. It's the border, stupid. Figure out how to close the door. It's been wide open way too long now.

That's My Word.

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