Saturday, February 09, 2008

Putting a Face (and a Border) on Illegal Immigration

The problem with illegal immigration is not the immigrants. The problem is with their governments, for the most part, and with the United States government to some extent as well. Sending Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials on SWAT-style raids, as happened yesterday in Utah, is obviously not the answer. Favoring strong families, however, is.

You'd think the illegal immigration problem would have been solved by now. And then you realize just how complex it is. It can be solved, but not as easy as we might think. Nonetheless, we need to get off of high-center solve what is becoming a crisis. It's easy to become frustrated the longer the problem remains unsolved, but throwing around overweening legal prescriptions like a frustrated parent spits out epithets at unruly children is an immature way to handle the situation.

"Raid" is the correct word for what happened at Universal Industrial Sales Inc. in Lindon yesterday. Those arrested were fearful for their families. Some were in tears. Family members, congregated later that day in a local church, were very worried about what comes next.
"They (ICE officials) entered running. We thought there was a fire or something."
ICE must train its employees using CSI re-runs or something. It doesn't need to be that way. The illegal immigration problem can be solved without tearing families apart, and especially without taking primary breadwinners away from the children they shelter and support.

What is the number one problem specific to Utah with regard to illegal immigration? That no one really knows what the law is.
The reason for the trepidation [following the Lindon raid] is there is no system in place that farmers and other business owners can really rely upon to catch job applicants who may be using false papers or are in the country illegally.

"A business owner is only allowed to delve into a person's background so far. If they delve beyond that, then they could get in trouble for going too far," [Utah Farm Bureau President Leland] Hogan said. "We're dealing with a horrible system that needs to be fixed..."
Admittedly, there are portions of his bill (Senate Bill 81) that I like, but Senator Bill Hickman's current legislation in the Utah Legislature has far more problems than it has solutions. It is largely putting the cart before the horse. It has such draconian measures as
  • Withholding income tax at the highest rate possible for independent contractors who fail to provide documentation of legal status of employees
  • Severely limiting those who can qualify for in-state tuition
  • Creating an entirely new set of documentation that can only be issued to US citizens
  • Penalizing those who provide assistance to someone with "knowing or reckless disregard" for the fact that the person is an illegal alien
Some of the bill's better requirements are (a) requiring law enforcement to make best efforts to determine citizenship status of someone who is arrested, and (b) prohibiting localities from making laws that countermand state or federal law. If we nearly gut the bill, and leave in the handful of good things that it calls for, then we might have something. Discombobulated penalizing of employers, families, and friends, though, rates very low on the morality scale.

Problems

It's not hard to understand why illegal immigration exists in large quantities.

Governmental Corruption. The largest reason for illegal immigration is the corruption of the Mexican government. The second largest reason for illegal immigration is the US government's patronization of that corruption.

Labyrinthine US Naturalization Laws. A major reason that many immigrants are illegal is because of nearly useless US naturalization laws. Lawyers, by often dragging out the process so that they can augment their already prodigious income, don't help too much, either.

Solutions

The solutions to the problem amount to an improvement in the proper role of government--on both sides of the border.

Build a Border Wall. The primary way to get the Mexican government to reform itself is to get Mexicans to stay home and demand it. For this reason alone, building a border fence/wall is paramount. If we don't, over time it will become clear that the social costs of open borders far outweigh the cost it would have taken to build a fence. If we continue to let Mexicans flee the travesty that is Mexico, we will encourage a socialistic cancer to further infect Americans and America.

Evangelize for Less Corrupt Government. The President of the United States, the Governors of the several states, and anyone else who gets a chance, should use a significant portion of their 'bully pulpit' time encouraging the people of Mexico to rise up and demand good government--which would lead to a dramatic improvement in the Mexican economy and set an example for other Central- and South American nations. (Of course that would simultaneously encourage lazy Americans to demand the same integrity out of theirs!) Additionally, the United States should dramatically improve its ability to serve immigrants from any country who desire to legally experience the blessings of being an American. This includes hiring US immigration employees who sympathize with--rather than condescend to--immigrants.

Favor Families. Individuals are often prone to crime. Families seldom are. I am fully in favor of law enforcement apprehension, incarceration, and deportation of criminal aliens. A small percentage of illegal immigrants practice drug distribution and other crimes. But I am not in favor of the destruction of families. When a family is involved, and when no other crimes have been committed, rather than potentially destroying these families --as the Lindon raid yesterday might have done--let's help families become citizens and part of the United States community.

Getting government to perform its proper role. Strengthening families. Sounds good to me. That can only make America stronger.





8 comments:

  1. Pure and simply I have discovered the cause of the immigration problem: The American Dream!

    If we weren't such a flippin' sweet country that extolled the virtues of hard work and the omnipresent possibility of making it to the top and being the next Jay-Z people wouldn't be coming here.

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  2. You're right. The American dream makes a lot of things possible. Now we need to encourage the making of the Mexican dream, and the Honduran dream, and the Bolivian dream...

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  3. This month's National Geographic Magazine has a fascinating article titled Mexico's Other Border that discusses the problems they have in southern Mexico with illegal immigration. It parallels our problems with illegal immigration. Illegals from Central American (and south) cross into southern Mexico in the hope of jobs, opportunity, and a better life. Mexicans are as frustrated with the problem as Americans are with our illegal immigration problem.

    It is interesting that in this hemisphere, the problem seems to exist on southern borders until you hit Canada. And then nobody from here wants to illegally immigrate there.

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  4. So are Mexicans racist, then?

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  5. Scott,

    Somehow I am still surprised that this issue isn't a focus of our regular national news.

    Cameron,

    Good point!

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  6. Raymond,

    Along the lines of your comment...

    Everyone knows that Calvin Coolidge said that the business of America is business, but they don't know that in that same speech, he also said

    The chief ideal of the American people is idealism.


    Despite all the warts--most of them caused by overweening government--America is still the best place on earth!

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  7. I agree with all you said, however I do think we need to put some penalties in place for those that are here illegaly, before they become "citizen". Otherwise it's not fair to those who have come here legally and are following the laws to get their families here. I will disagree and say that employers need to be punished. We also need to protect these people from being exploited by unethical employers.

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  8. You raise some good points. They shouldn't just come here and get off "scot-free". However, most immigrants are very welcome additions to America; it's the drug criminals and gangs that we should be mostly worried about.

    Also, I agree that employers should be punished, but right now there is no clear way to ensure that they are breaking the law or contributing to it in this regard.

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