Immigration and border security featured prominently in last night’s presidential debate, including possible amnesty for illegal aliens. That would be a terrible idea. 

Amnesty would be a disastrous move for America.

We know it will be disastrous because it was tried before and didn’t work. After amnesty was granted to 2.7 million illegal immigrants in America in 1986, the U.S. experienced far greater levels of illegal immigration. The reason is simple: Amnesty attracts more illegal immigrants. 

To be clear, illegal border crossing is largely controlled by criminal cartels. They use these activities to drive huge profits. And it’s not just Mexican cartels who are active on the border: Increasingly, they are cooperating with criminal smuggling networks in China and other countries. 

A call for amnesty in a presidential debate is basically massive advertising for criminal cartels who will use that sound bite to recruit many tens of thousands of customers and charge them many tens of millions of dollars to flood the border. 

This is not just about money. Human trafficking is incredibly dangerous. Illegal immigrants are at risk of rape, robbery, extortion, exposure, disease, and death. Human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights violation on the planet.

This administration has worked really hard to combat the scourge of human trafficking. Amnesty just makes its job way harder. 

Amnesty won’t just flood the nation with more illegal immigration. Disrupting the border will allow the cartels to more easily dump illegal drugs into the country, fueling an already out-of-control opioid epidemic. 

The fact is, for the first time in a long time, America has been making real progress in securing the border, combating illegal immigration, battling human trafficking, and working with Mexico and other Central American countries to address the many challenges of unlawful migration— from threats to public health to increases in crime.

Get the facts: Regardless of the outcome of the election, now is not the time to turn back to policies that increase human misery, put more people and communities at risk, enable crime, and increase the threats to public health and national security. Now is not the time to add burdens to the American people.