To Fence or not to fence

Published Brownsville Herald March 9, 2008

This week we heard that the “technology based” border protection package was delivered and the “Secretary of Homeland Security” proclaimed it up and ready as he had seen it personally. Then we heard that it didn’t work! I wonder what it was that was working – obviously politics was working.

I have been silent on this issue as I am very biased. I worked for U.S. Customs for more than 25 years and then watched a formerly efficient entity with a clear purpose, be combined into a mess of other agencies without a clear direction for anyone. 

The border control problem has not been approached in reality, it has only been fiddled with in order to satisfy some segments of certain political constituencies. To my knowledge no nation has ever been able to effectively control their borders, the iron curtain did and the bamboo curtain does a better job than most but only because they are not afraid to shoot. The only thing we had going for the “fence” was the use of technology, the physical fence only promises to divide our nation and even neighbors in our community as no other thing has. Just here in Brownsville the University will be segmented by the fence and individual properties that have been in the came families long before the United States was formed are being seized. Promises of continuing litigation abound! 

This is what the socialist government of the Demopublicans and the Republocrats have brought us to. Only the elite rulers of Congress and the Administration, in an effort to control “We the people” with scare mongering and “givemeitis” playing on individual fears of one group benefiting over another and that some terrible thing will befall us without them. Protecting the borders is much more than just keeping some people out, it is also a big part of what our nation is and what it will become. The societies of peoples have formed these social organizations each with different rules and requirements that supposedly evolved for the benefit of its people. Obviously some nations have been perverted from the original purpose by the desires and goals of those in power. Those people that perceive that, will take risks to go elsewhere to seek a new home and society that they believe will provide a better life for them and their families. 

The United States has been the beneficiary of this migration through its history. Why is it that we have jobs available and the only folks that can be found to do them are people from other countries who come here without following the proscribed requirements? More than that, even though there are waiting lines of folks who have applied to come to the U.S. legally and the wait is in the decades. I believe the beginnings are the result of the “national government” failing to accomplish one of the functions that it is really supposed to do. Perhaps the following might sound familiar: “…. establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence” or perhaps this: “ ….To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization…..” 

A failure to establish a uniform rule of naturalization and then to enforce the rules is really what is at the bottom of the problem. This has also been severely aggravated by our congresspersons incessant interference in the process, for their own political benefit and a lack of consistent application of the law by the immigration magistrates. The process of Immigration is broke and worse is mixed in with a behemoth of an all purpose government bureaucracy that has demonstrated an inability to do any one function really well. 

Had the process worked properly the workers would have immigrated properly and not be the basis of political scare tactics and efforts at gaining even more control of “We the people”. We currently have a large need for new immigrants and have had for quite some time. Our aging workforce has begun leaving the workforce and requires many more services as products resulting in the need for many more jobs. These needs just haven’t been met.  The mere fact that there are as many as 12 million illegal migrants working in the U.S. in relative obscurity is absolute proof of the incompetence of our supposed “representatives” or possibly worse, their malfeasance. 

What is all this coming to? A common statement is that these folks are “doing jobs that Americans will not do”. That sounds to me like a very “racist and belittling” statement. Could it be translated to mean that these “immigrants” are not really competent to do real jobs – only those that people like me, won’t do? If, like me, you have watched “these immigrants” work in the construction of malls and offices and have seen the innovation they have developed to do the job better and easier, their competence can not be challenged. Even more, when you see the quality of the work done and the care for the craftsmanship exhibited is remarkable. This seems to have been lost in the escalating of wages and titles, no longer providing the opportunity for entry level jobs to learn the work by experience or apprenticeship. This has also resulted in many of our manufacturing jobs being exported to areas where there is a larger force of folks willing to take less while they learn the basics. In today’s America people refuse the entry level jobs or anything else that seems beneath them. What’s more, they can do it, because there are so many jobs available thanks to our raging economy. 

If the normal immigration process were to operate efficiently and in a timely manner so that unfilled jobs could be satisfied as needed the number of those taking he enormous risks to seek a job that doesn’t exist would diminish to a manageable number and make the real threats more apparent. An Iron Curtain of the Americas would not desecrate the soil of the “Home of the “almost free” and home of the brave”. I would suggest that the entire naturalization process be based on a temporary worker process. Such a process might be: 

Any individual who can secure a job at the prevailing entry level wage for the occupation, should be considered for a temporary worker visa. The visa would be temporarily granted within 14 days so long as the worker can communicate in English, demonstrate the qualifications to do the job, and can secure evidence that no felony level or violent crime has been committed. This approval could be reconsidered in the next 180 days upon assertion of a false representation made in the application. This visa could be reviewed annually for 3 years based on the needs for a temporary worker in that occupation. The visa would not permit the entry of any dependents or confer any obligations to remain in the US and only entitle such benefits as Congress may specify. At the end of 3 years the individual could petition for permanent residency which would be based on a clean criminal record, good work and credit records. Permanent residency would allow for the immigration of the petitioners immediate family upon approval, confer U.S. Citizenship on an children born in the U.S. of the petitioner, and allow participation in any benefits normally allowed permanent residents today. 

After 5 years the permanent residents would be required to petition for U.S. Citizenship which will require the same educational requirements as now and necessitate the renouncement of citizenship in and allegiance to any other Country. Should a permanent resident apply within 5 years, or not qualify to become a citizen within 7 years of becoming approved, the applicant will revert to being a guest worker and any beneficiaries may be returned to the country of origin unless they should qualify independently. 

Such a concept would provide for a stable level of legal immigration and remove the need for any fences other than the technology needed to assist our border patrol officers.  Just consider at present we have an unemployment rate between 5% and 6 %, about 12 million undocumented residents, with the ‘Baby Boomers” just starting to retire. This is just the beginning and if a process that considers the needs of “We the people” instead of the poetical insiders, we won’t need an “American Iron Curtain”.