Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Part 5 Solving the Immigration Problem

Solving the Immigration Problem

Solving the Immigration Problem
Jon E. Dougherty,
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Besides identifying the historical causes of mass immigration to the U.S., as well as the problems it has created domestically, immigration reformists say there is a number of steps Congress -- in conjunction with state and federal authorities -- could and should do to finally address.
But current policy initiatives, such as President Bush's "guest worker" plan, do nothing to stem the flow of immigration, legal or otherwise, they argue. Rather, such policies only serve to worsen the problem while undermining any efforts to control America's porous southwestern border.

It didn't start with President Bush, however.

NAFTA a Contributor

Some reformers and political analysts believe the immigration problem worsened after Congress and the Clinton administration approved the North American Free Trade Agreement, more commonly known by its initials: NAFTA.

Under terms of the agreement, which was made between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, barriers to free-flow of trade in goods and services vanished. So too did years of rules and regulations which helped protect American consumers.

As highlighted by columnist, author and former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, NAFTA has contributed to the food poisoning (and deaths) of American consumers, facilitated an increase in drug trafficking, and led to the reintroduction of diseases like tuberculosis that had long been eradicated.

Solving the Problem

But what to do about the problems? For one, say reformers, get the locals involved.

David Ray, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), says the biggest impediment to solving the problem is "the indisputable absence of all interior immigration [law] enforcement." By that he means once most illegal immigrants manage to get over the border and into the U.S., they're home free.

In order to address the many aspects the problem that is mass immigration, Ray and other experts have identified a series of steps:

Narrow immigration to largely include only foreigners with marketable skills in the U.S., which would make immigrants less likely to remain poor and dependent on public assistance;

Implement verifiable documents that employers can use to ensure they are not hiring illegal immigrants or immigrants who don't have the right to work in the U.S.;

Implement laws so that employers who hire illegals run the risk of losing their businesses because of the government-imposed sanctions;

Place U.S. troops on the border with Mexico, to assist Border Patrol agents and other Immigration officials with closing off wide swaths of border;

Employ the latest technology in addition to troops and border agents, including motion sensors and detectors, satellite surveillance, and infrared technology, to track and intercept illegal border crossers;

Close legal loopholes that allow illegal aliens to gain footholds in the U.S., such as access to driver's licenses, matricular consular cards, and the establishment of bank accounts;

Make defense of the border "in depth," were it is nearly impossible to gain illegal access, then nearly impossible to get employment;

Enlist state and local police officers, during the normal course of their duties, to ascertain if persons are in the U.S. legally and, if not, detain them and call federal immigration officials to come and retrieve them;

The U.S. should get serious about incarcerating repeat offenders who are caught crossing into the country illegally—to encourage compliance with American immigration laws;

Deport illegal immigrants currently in the country, and provide them with instructions on how to gain access to the U.S. legally;

Begin to hold U.S. elected officials accountable for their mass immigration stances and policies by removing them from office;

Implore Mexican officials to develop the tools and policies to bolster infrastructure, education and opportunities in Mexico, so many of its citizens don't feel compelled to travel to the U.S. to earn a living;

Hold Mexican authorities who cross into the U.S. responsible for violating internationally recognized borders;

"The federal government is incapable of enforcing immigration laws by itself," said Ray. Washington needs help from the rest of the country. "There are only 2,000 federal agents to cover the entire U.S.; most states aren't enlisting local police to help" in the effort.

He said illegals know that once they get past the border, they are "home free," Ray said. "Through our lax immigration laws, we have invited anarchy into the United States."

Said President Ronald Reagan—though he also signed a landmark illegal immigrant amnesty while in office -- "The simple truth is that we've lost control of our own borders, and no nation can do that and survive."

Whether the 9/11 attacks, the cost of providing for so many immigrants, the loss of the American standard of living, or a total of these problems apply, mass immigration is a problem Washington has not dealt affectively with for decades, most likely because many see it as a boon to their careers, either through votes or campaign contributions from employers who hire cheaper immigrants.

In the long run, analysts believe, this lack of political resolve to protect the nation's borders will only worsen the country's political, social, economic and cultural divides.


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