Saturday, April 1, 2006

Thinking the Unthinkable, An American-Mexican Barricade

I have a proposed solution for the shame of finding dead Mexicans in the deserts of Arizona.


Border1Maybe it will lessen the instances of wrecked vans, killing fifteen illegals as they try to outrun border agents. We might never again have to open an abandoned tractor-trailer rig with seventy suffocated men, women and children inside. It could possibly bring a degree of tranquility back to the desert sunsets and encourage ranchers to unlock their doors and stand down their attack dogs. That's not a slam at ranchers. They've been put in impossible circumstances. The nearly 3,000 deaths related to illegal crossings in the past ten years would not need to have have happened.


From Migration Information Source:

Most migrant deaths in the last 10 years have been due to "environmental causes:" freezing to death in the mountains of San Diego County, succumbing to dehydration or heat stroke in the deserts of California and Arizona, or being asphyxiated in sealed trucks and railroad cars as migrants are being transported away from the border area. There has also been sharp increase in deaths due to drowning (mostly in the All-American Canal, an irrigation ditch that parallels the US-Mexico border for long stretches in California and Arizona). Federal officials routinely blame these deaths on the tactics of professional people-smugglers. But the smugglers are only satisfying a demand that has been created largely by the strategy of concentrated border enforcement.

I propose that we open our borders unconditionally to Mexico. Enough outsourcing, we need to do some insourcing.


IllegalmexaliensThe only requirement would be a Mexican passport, which we would encourage the Mexican government to issue to any and all applicants. Upon presentation at an immigration entry point, Mexican citizens would be automatically issued  a two-year work permit. That permit would be renewed, again automatically, upon presentation within a month of its expiration date, assuming no criminal conviction within the U.S.


End of requirements.


FencemexicanborderThe alternative is too painful to contemplate. A 2,000 mile fence, continued death and heartache, as well as Mexicans inside the United States who are afraid to go home for fear of not being able to return. No such barrier, anywhere in the world, has served a useful purpose and all have supported political regimes with which we share no common human-rights approach.


It would remain illegal to enter the United States at other than regulated border-crossing points. In return for this lessening of border tensions, U.S. businesses would be encouraged to invest deep within Mexico, to bring decent paying jobs south of the border.


There would no doubt be an initial rush to come north, but not the desperation-based surge that fuels the present-day human trafficking and death in the desert. Order would return to border crossing points and both countries could return to the friendly relationship they have had with each other since we took away much of their country.


Work permit holders who don’t find suitable jobs could return to their country without fear, knowing the opportunity remains available. Seasonal workers would more easily spend the off-seasons with their families. A balance would quickly establish itself, benefitting both nations.


Mexicans come north for work.


Migrantworker_1Nearly 60% of our agricultural workers are of Mexican origin, many of them illegal, a fact that allows ranchers and farmers to provide substandard facilities and conditions. We have made unwilling and ineffective watchdogs of our employers.


America’s enormous appetite for workers to produce at the low end of the wage scale (landscaping and various maintenance chores, household help and service sector jobs) can be better, as well as legally served by unrestricted worker access from Mexico.


A lesson can be drawn from Europe’s concerns about expansion of the European Union into former Eastern-bloc countries. Wealthy Europe expected to be inundated with migrants from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


Wage and living costs were so widely disparate at the time of these countries entry to the EU that a flood of migration was both expected and feared. Western Europe has its own crises in jobs and certainly in immigration.


IroncurtainBut it didn’t happen. Eastern Europe, for the most part, stayed home and improved its lot within the home countries.


It's been seventeen years since the heralded destruction of the Berlin Wall and the systematic dismantling of barbed-wire and border patrols between free and communist Europe. Celebrating, as we did, that pulling down of the communist Iron Curtain, it’s unthinkable to consider such a border between America and Mexico.


And yet the unthinkable is being thought.
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More about politics in America at my opinion columns web site.