The View From 1776
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Good Fences, Good Neighbors?
How can we expect illegals to obey complicated registration and naturalization provisions in the proposed immigration bill when we fail to enforce the most fundamental provisions of the law?
In New York City, Mayor Giuliani’s policies dramatically reduced crime. One fundamental proposition was that police must deal with all crime, even small things like spraying graffiti and breaking windows. When the police ignore the law, at any level, it breeds general disrespect for the law.
Jeff Lukens deals with one thing that we surely can do to enforce the law.
Build the Fence Now
By Jeff Lukens
There is an old saying that a good fence makes for good neighbors. This truism has never been more applicable than with our Southern neighbor of Mexico. A good fence makes good immigration policy too.
Unfortunately, the current Senate Immigration Bill’s focus is not on the fence. It is on making people who’ve broken the law legal. Unless we want to be dealing with this issue again in five or 10 years, after millions more illegals have entered our country, the fence must become the focus of any solution.
In 2005, the House approved the $1 billion “Secure Fence Act” to build a 700-mile border wall. So far, however, they have built just two miles. This should be the priority, but instead, it is an afterthought.
A fence would lower incentives to illegal immigration. With the emergence of human-smuggling organizations, crossing the border has never been easier. The fence would raise the costs of the illegal option, and make coming here legally a more attractive alternative.
Most Americans clearly want the federal government to get tougher on illegal immigration. While politicians pander for cheap labor and cheap votes, we the taxpayers pick up the tab for increased health-care, education, and other social services. As far as monetary cost and the social fabric of our nation, cheap labor may not be so cheap after all.
While almost everyone welcomes legal immigrants to America, we know we can assimilate only so many newcomers at one time. The solution to our illegal immigration problem begins with controlling the border, and controlling the border means building a fence.
The income gap between the U.S. and Mexico is the largest between any two neighboring countries in the world. The Mexican economy does not provide living wages for its growing population, and their solution is to export their poor to our country.
No previous group of immigrants has had such a large inflow or access to their home country that this latest group has today. That’s because no previous wave of immigrants could walk across our border. Earlier groups crossed oceans to come here and were assimilated into the culture in a gradual and measured way. This latest wave quite literally has only to walk right in.
Most illegals do not conduct themselves like immigrants of the past. Granted, many of them work hard, but they are here against our laws and have little or no interest in learning English or the ways of our culture. Illegals generally come here merely to find a job, not necessarily to become citizens. And now, they are protesting our generosity in the streets of our cities.
These behaviors and attitudes are offensive to Americans, and are the reason why most folks want the border controlled. This is not about racism. It is about an abuse of our laws and social norms that appalls everyone including African, Asian and other ethnic groups who are legally waiting in line to become citizens.
Once in the U.S., sending illegals back has become nearly impossible. With legal restrictions and limited enforcement resources, even when we catch them they are often released back on U.S. soil as if nothing happened. If we don’t address this problem properly, in 20 years we may have an exponential number; say 20 or 30 million more illegals, to deal with.
We cannot allow Mexico to export their poverty as a way to avoid economic and social reform. Ultimately, this problem will not go away until Mexicans can live prosperously in their own country. And that will not happen until their corrupt and government, and inefficient economy, are reformed.
The Senate Immigration bill isn’t about citizenship that some would have you believe. It is about millions becoming legal immediately with a stroke of the pen, and becoming future constituents. They instantly get rights to American health, education and welfare benefits. How this all gets paid for, who knows? And for Sen. Kennedy and his esteemed colleagues, who cares?
No one expects fines and other requirements of the bill to be enforced. They rarely enforce existing law already. And no matter how you dress it up, 12+ million illegals will have their amnesty, and the incentive for millions more to sneak across will be on the table. With family unity provisions, there really is no limit on the number of foreigners that will flood into our county. The America we once knew will be gone.
So far, all efforts to secure the border have failed. Patrols alone will not do the job. Whatever funding is provided this year may be cut next year, and we could be right back where we started. We need something tangible. In plain English, that means build the fence that Congress authorized two years ago.
A fence may not stop illegal aliens from coming, but it may reduce their flow to a manageable level. Once it is in place and we restore order, our ability to handle guest worker programs and related issues becomes possible. We really cannot address any other issue related to immigration until the fence is built.
We have a proud history of accepting the world’s poor in a system designed to provide gradual assimilation of new citizens into our language and culture. We need to control our border and allow that process to happen properly.
Jeff Lukens’s website is http://www.jefflukens.com/