With immigration, as with other issues, the most important decision is: Who is to make the decision?
It should be too obvious for words that decisions about who is to come into the United States and live among Americans should be made in the United States by Americans.
In reality, however, for years that decision has been made in Mexico by Mexicans and by others who chose to cross the border from Mexico into the United States with impunity, knowing that even if they were caught, they would at worst be turned back - and could try again.
Many would not even have to face that. They would be released within the United States, with instructions to report back to the authorities for legal proceedings.
But why should they be expected to obey that legal requirement when they did not obey the law against crossing the border in the first place?
None of these facts is news. Nor is it rocket science to figure out what the consequences have been and will be.
Both political parties know what is going on, and both parties choose to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Neither wants to risk losing the Hispanic vote, though it is doubtful whether all Hispanics are in favor of open borders.
The net result has been empty promises about controlling the border, paired with various schemes to legalize the illegal immigrants, and washed down with fraudulent statements that insult our intelligence.
The first of these frauds is the argument that the economy "needs" illegal immigrants to fill "jobs that Americans won't take."
Both parts of this argument ignore the most obvious three-letter word that is left out: pay.
Virtually any job is a job that Americans will not take if the pay is low enough. Nor is there any reason for pay to rise if illegal immigrants are available at low pay.
Then there is the "family reunification" fraud, which claims that we cannot in good conscience keep out the families of illegal immigrants who are living in the United States but must let those families reunite.
With all the nations on the face of the Earth, why is the United States of America the only country in which someone can be united with his family? Illegal immigrants can reunite with their families back where they came from.
The grand fraud of all is the claim that we must have "comprehensive" immigration reform - that is, simultaneously deal with border control and the legal status of illegal immigrants already here.
There is no logical reason why these two issues must be dealt with together, though there are political reasons that elected officials want to do so. Passing border laws described as "tough" gives Congress political cover when they legalize the illegals.
It allows Congress to be on both sides of the issue, which is where most politicians want to be on most issues.
From the standpoint of the country, however, it is urgently important that the two issues be taken up separately, with border control being proved to be established first.
Otherwise, the American people get promises from politicians with a long record of broken promises, especially on immigration, while illegal immigrants get their benefits up front and irrevocably for themselves and for the additional millions more who will cross the border.
Last year, the sop to the American people was the promise of a fence on the border. This year, the big question is: "Where is the fence?"
That will still be the question 10 years from now, if we let the politicians soothe us with words.
The one encouraging aspect of the immigration issue is that the combined efforts of the White House and both houses of Congress, together with most of the media, have thus far failed to turn the immigration fraud into the law of the land.
It is a disgrace that they have tried but a healthy sign of the common sense of the people that they have still not succeeded.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His column appears Thursdays in The Sun. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.