THE ANSWER TO THE BORDER CRISIS

You might disagree with me

Let’s approach a subject with a clear mind and begin with two simple points. The first is America being an extremely popular place. Then there’s the notion that most problems, especially the difficult ones, are never solved by the most liked idea but only the best idea. As a starting point, let’s decide if we really have a “crisis.”

Let’s examine our record of letting people into our great land. There is an excellent article prepared and posted online by Princeton University you can see here. The report focuses on how changing immigration levels have affected the US economy and employment. Before 1920, immigration was mostly unrestricted and open. Sure, there were rules, and many were turned away, but the overall effort of building a nation was aided by the influx of people taking many of the hard labor jobs worked by slaves before the 1850s.

By 1920, the world was in turmoil because of a World War fought in Europe. America became uptight about foreigners and those who didn’t speak our language or look like us. According to the Princeton research, immigration fell from about a million people a year to 150,000. Let’s not forget the Chinese Exclusion Act that was passed by Congress in 1882. It provided an absolute ten-year ban on Chinese laborers wanting to immigrate to the United States and wasn’t rescinded until 1965. Yeah, look it up.

That brings us to the supposed “burden” at our southern border. It used to be mostly Mexicans coming through our “open” border, seeking employment or wanting to join up with family members living in the good old U.S. of A. Keep in mind that Mexicans are truly North Americans. Now, because of political turmoil in Central and South America, many people are making trips from their homelands to ours in search of opportunities and safety.

The latest immigration numbers are amazing, with a claim of six hundred thousand illegal aliens coming into the country last year and new numbers close to two million. Yes, this is a crisis, and it truly shows there is no immigration system at all. It’s a figment of someone’s imagination. I don’t want to go too far off the track, but I’ll insert a short story here.

I once lived in a very fine house in Atlanta, but it had a major problem of rain leaking into my basement every spring. After spending thousands of dollars trying to keep the water out, I finally found an expert who fixed the issue. He said, “Sooner or later water will find its way into your basement, so let it come in.” I looked at him like he was crazy and asked, “Okay, so what then?” He explained that when water comes in the best solution is making a way for it to get out. We dug a trench in the concrete foundation, a sunken river of sorts, which led the water to a drain on the low side of the house. The river was covered by a layer of concrete and we rebuilt the basement with no further flooding. Now what does this have to do with immigration?

There is always a price tag on a solution. I propose we let immigrants in, but we make the cost of entry high enough that we can deter some, while using the new funds to beef up courts, border agents and building a wall where necessary. My idea is each family of four or less would have to cough up $20,000. The large revenue stream could be used to pay for a better immigration program as well as job training, education, housing and the like. We obviously need more workers, not fewer, so it’s a win–win. My plan would also require immigrants to learn English.

What do we do with those who don’t pay the fee and come in anyway? Well, we do what we do now, send them back. We just can’t keep up with the numbers.

Some might react to this proposal as beneath us and our spirit of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Even in the non-restricted period before 1920, a potential US immigrant wouldn’t get in if they failed a basic IQ test. They were also turned away if they were physically unable to work or if they didn’t have a family or friend who would supply lodging.

Some might argue this will promote corruption, but we seem to have corruption in just about everything we do. Just this week some jerks stole millions of meals for school kids during the Covid pandemic. Maybe this wouldn’t happen so often If we had smarter people running our programs. We must also root out the bad guys with guns wanting a life of crime in America.

Martha’s Vineyard

There is a great line in the conclusion of the Princeton study, “…our research suggests the economic effects of restricting immigration are not so straightforward. While lost immigrant workers can be replaced by new workers (for example through outsourcing), they can also be replaced by new capital (for example through automation), which in turn might also replace U.S.-born workers.” That guy who owns the factory and sees an opportunity to lower his workforce with automation, does as much damage to US workers as immigration. That big boss who pays people in Vietnam to make his products, does more damage to our workers than a few million immigrants. When every business has a sign saying NOW HIRING, we need more workers, not less.

I say let the water in, but channel it to productive use, and make sure those managing the plan understand why people want to come to America. We are still that land of opportunity, but it will be beneficial if we can help those oppressive countries causing immigration influx to become more democratic and stable. But we must be careful and consider the possibility of unintended consequences. Sometimes our “fixing” another country just kills a bunch of people, wastes lots of money and lives and in the end, the place is no better. Just look at Afghanistan and Iraq.

And should you think my idea is crazy, well, we haven’t tried it. it just might work.

 

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THE POPULARITY OF AMERICA

Immigration Challenges and the Far Right

I would love to think that all the concern about immigration by the right-wing media and hardcore Trump fans isn’t based on deep-seated prejudges, but for some reason I have trouble believing that. Oh yeah, the last four years of intense hate and nationalist rhetoric is probably responsible for the lack of credibility in their messaging.

Most conservative politicians go on and on about how broken the US immigration system is and how we need to stop letting people in. One might say that America is not responsible for the terrible conditions in the countries immigrants and refugees are fleeing from, but that’s not exactly right. Many of our failed foreign policies and drug enforcement initiatives have contributed to instable governments in some Central and South American countries. That subject is much too deep and complex for exploration on this page today, but should you read the Stephen Kinzer book titled The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, you will probably be shocked and embarrassed at the things our country did abroad in the name of democracy.

People all over the world love the United States of America and millions want to live here. Those folks lucky enough to have a landmass they can walk to get here, do so to escape the highly dangerous and unproductive places where they live. Yes, that’s not our fault but we need to understand oppressed people will always desire to come here and stay, and that has nothing to do with Biden’s policy of sheltering unaccompanied minors or the walls Donald Trump failed to build.

America has more than 800,000 people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, more widely known as DACA. These kids and adults have a kind of landed status, but they are not citizens. They can work and they carry cards declaring their right to be here, but since June 15, 2012 they exist in an uncertain limbo.

According to the Brookings Institute, “As of January 1, 2015, there were 11.96 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The most recent Pew Research estimate puts the total number of unauthorized immigrants at 10.5 million in 2017. Overall, this represents a minority of the foreign-born population, which in 2017 numbered 44.5 million and of them, 45% are naturalized citizens and 27% of whom are lawful permanent residents.” Once again, I cannot adequately detail how the immigration system works, which includes working visa, green cards and long-term applications for citizenship. Instead, I’ll focus on the strict rules facing those applying for entry and seeking asylum here.

There are two basic requirements for entry into the United States. First, asylum applicants must establish that they fear persecution in their home country. Second, applicants must prove that they would be persecuted in their home country on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

When those known as “coyotes” working for fees bring young kids to our southern border and dump them over the wall, the kids are in a deep state of panic and many can’t say why they had to leave their home countries. They may have been separated from or told by their parents they must go live in America. Not only is there a language barrier for many of them, but a lack of knowledge about possible legal entanglements.

Our right-wing media features endless discussions about officials in the Biden administration not traveling to the border to see the problem up close. Why is that necessary? They are quite aware of the almost 20,000 minors who are in the custody of the US Government. The reality is the administration has bills to pass, Covid to conquer and other pressing responsibilities. One could say it’s bad optics that they aren’t down there on their knees and hugging the kids, but that will not solve the problem, and it is a problem.

There are times when following legal guidelines that a charge of not being moral or caring enough is raised. On the other hand, changing a policy to make it more, well, moral, can lead to a slamming for not following the letter of the law no matter what happens to the kids. When the bodies of babies and kids who were trying to get to a safer place started to wash up on the shores of the Mediterranean, the whole world criticized those countries that failed to help hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria. We got all sad for a while, but then we just forgot about them. It’s the normal flow of a human flaw.

We can bring those 20,000 kids to safety and unite them with family members who are already here, but wait, are those part of the ten to thirteen million undocumented people who arrived earlier? Are we going to balloon that group even more? 20,000 is not such a big number when compared to the 333 million people who live here now, but we need to realize that this is never going to stop. People will always make their way here to be part of the American Dream. Contrary to all the bullshit blasted out by Trump in the last four years, people in other lands consume our culture in the form of movies, books and TV shows and become convinced this is the happening place. We have an image of being the freest and coolest place on Earth.

There are three groups of immigrants. The first are highly trained or educated people who come to our county to learn or work. The H-1B visa is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(a)(15)(H), that allows US businesses to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The duration of stay is three years, extendable to six years, after which the visa holder may need to reapply. When these highly skilled workers stay, it makes America better.

Then there are rich kids who come from other countries via airplanes, land here for vacations and never leave. According to Jorge Ramos, 40% of undocumented immigrants come by air and overstay their travel visas. We will need more people to help curb this misuse of the travel privilege.

Members of the third group walk right in, sit right down and ask to stay. This is visual and therefore it gets the most attention, but should you view this as a problem then you must also deal with the reality that it will never go away. We are not going to stop saying our country is the beacon of freedom and the World’s greatest example of capitalistic achievement, so perhaps we need to stop complaining about people wanting to come here.

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