Far more American voters support additional funding for the U.S. southern border than increasing aid to Ukraine and Israel, recent polls show.
While disappointing, this isn’t entirely surprising. And it puts American voters’ priorities in stark terms: To many, the border feels more acutely challenging than conflicts thousands of miles away. But the United States can lead on both fronts, and Congress should move swiftly to fund these efforts.
Now that the House has a speaker, Congress must turn to the Biden Administration’s request for more than $100 billion in assistance for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and border security. While some argue we should focus on problems at home, others call for shifting money intended for Ukraine to Israel, while some claim China is the most immediate threat and should be the focus of attention.
Unfortunately, these foreign policy problems are all related, and all require our attention. The situation in Israel in the wake of Hamas’ savage Oct. 7 terrorist attack is linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through a common denominator: Iran. Iran has provided significant military assistance to Russia in support of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Iran is also a key backer of Hamas. Russia hosted a Hamas delegation in Moscow on Oct. 26. Apparently, Moscow is unbothered by the terrorist organization’s responsibility for the worst attack against Jews since the Holocaust. There is now a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where innocent Palestinians are dying while Israel attempts to root out Hamas from underneath civilian infrastructure.
How the West responds to the situations in both Ukraine and Israel is being watched carefully by the Chinese leadership as it looks to Taiwan. That explains why Taiwanese are among the strongest advocates for Ukrainian support – they know Beijing is gauging the West’s staying power in support of Kyiv against Russia. Helping Ukraine indirectly supports Taiwan.
As the greatest nation on earth, we have an obligation and national interest to help our friends under attack – or, in the case of Taiwan, to prevent an attack from happening. It is also the right thing to do. And as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued recently, support for Ukraine and Israel will help revitalize our industrial base and create new jobs. In addition, we have a responsibility to protect our own borders and to provide legal pathways for immigrants to enter this country. These are difficult times abroad and at home, but doing nothing isn’t an option.
Support for Israel is a no-brainer – of course we should help a staunch ally defeat terrorists. But it shouldn’t come at Ukraine’s expense or at the expense of much needed humanitarian aid for Palestinians. If Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t stopped in Ukraine, he will threaten other countries in the region, including NATO members such as Poland and the Baltic states. Ukraine, a country of 43 million people and the largest country in Europe in size, is the frontline of freedom.
Ukraine needs assistance from the United States and our allies to help it win the war and drive Russian forces off Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. Ukraine has never asked for American soldiers to fight their fight for them, but they do need our military and financial assistance.
Ukraine has inflicted tremendous damage on the Russian military, reducing the ability of Putin’s forces to harm other countries and weakening one of the biggest external threats to democracies. We already have seen the difference recently provided U.S. long-range missiles, known as ATACMs, have made on the battlefield. This demonstrates the bang for the buck we are getting from our assistance. Ukrainian victory is possible as long as we continue to help that country defend itself from the brutal, authoritarian Putin regime.
Western nations have frozen more than $300 billion in Russian hard currency reserves. Making those funds available to Ukraine for the country’s reconstruction would serve a form of justice for the damage Russia has caused. Importantly, it would also alleviate the financial burden on the West freeing up funds for the border. But such seizure of Russian funds, most of which are in Europe, will take time to implement; Congress needs to act now to ensure our assistance moves quickly.
These challenges are big, but the U.S. southern border needs help, too. A refugee crisis rages in the Western Hemisphere. We see the effects of that at the border every day. Whether Americans view this as a security issue or a humanitarian issue makes no difference – funding is desperately needed to restore order and appropriately process the thousands of migrants seeking to enter the United States.
Long-term solutions are needed, of course, including a border policy that can adapt to the changing demographics of migration. The United States also needs a legal immigration system that ensures our future prosperity, vitality, and security.
In the short term, funding can alleviate today’s border and migration issues, whether fentanyl smuggling or migrants fleeing authoritarian regimes.
We’re the greatest nation on earth, and U.S. leadership is indispensable.
It is in our interests to see peace and freedom restored on the European continent and in the Middle East, preserved in Asia, and maintained along our border. Congress needs to move quickly to protect and advance these interests.