Immigration Reform: The time has comeby David Pinar on Jun. 21, 2013, under Pol. & Govt.
The comprehensive Immigration Reform bill moving through the Senate now looks like it will pass overwhelmingly through the Senate with as many as 70 votes in it’s favor, which will pressure House Speaker John Boehner to allow it to pass with a majority Democratic and minority Republican support. The bill is far from perfect, but I believe there’s things in the bill that should please everyone.
The Border Security “Surge”:
Key to obtaining any significant Republican support for immigration reform is to secure the border. I agree. The world is a dangerous place. While I may have empathy for Jose from Nicaragua crossing the border in search of a job and better life, if he can illegally cross the border then so can Abdullah from Yemen, possibly with much more sinister intentions. And much of America’s success is due to that we are a nation of laws, and that only works when people obey the law and those who don’t suffer the consequences. And we already know what happens when we give a pass to those already here illegally and don’t do anything to stop more from doing the same. The 1986 Immigration bill gave a path to citizenship to an estimate 3.5 million people living in the country illegally but did little to secure the border and stop additional illegal immigration. The message to others thinking of immigrating illegally to the US was: If you manage to make it across the border and then find a place to work and live without getting caught, they’ll eventually say “OK, you can stay. But no more!” (please). Illegal immigration rose steadily after the 1986 Immigration bill. Pew Research Hispanic analyzed 5 year migration flows between the U.S. and Mexico. From 1995 through 2000 there was a net inflow of immigrants from Mexico of over 2 million, mostly illegal immigration. That disappeared in the 5 years from 2005 to 2010 – 1.37 million immigrants from Mexico entered the U.S., but 1.39 million left the U.S. and returned to Mexico, for an actual negative net immigration. There’s many reasons for that – recession in the U.S. economy, improving economy in Mexico and decrease in drug cartel violence, stronger & better border security, and an increase in deportations under Obama. It’s the combination of those things that have effectively stopped illegal immigration for now, but things change – economies improve, the violence in Mexico from the drug cartels may get worse. There is only one thing that can ensure an end to illegal immigration, and that is a secure border. So, here’s an idea: why don’t we secure the border, and get those who crossed it illegally to pay for it?
Republican Senators John Hoeven (ND) and Bob Corker (TN) introduced an amendment yesterday that amounts to a “surge” in border security: 20,000 more Border Patrol agents, a doubling in size of the force. 350 more miles of border fence, doubling the border fence to 700 miles. Full implementation of E-verify of employment to crack down on both those who work while illegally in the country, and those who hire them. More electronic surveillance equipment on the border, and a requirement that 90% of those who overstay their visas are apprehended and deported. So, what’s the catch – how much is all this going to cost? An estimated $32 billion. But, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office has estimated the current Immigration Reform bill will reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next ten years (2013-2023), and reduce the deficit by an additional $700 billion over the next ten years beyond that (2023-2033). When you come out of the shadows and start living and working legally, guess what? Welcome to paying taxes! So, we’ll use $32 billion to finally secure the border and have still have over 860 billion in deficit reduction left over. I wish government math worked that way more often.
The dreaded “A” word:
Amnesty. There, I said it. Well, with all due respect to those who hate that word, get used to it. We left the door opened, and got a bunch of uninvited guests, an estimated 13 million of them. They’re not going to leave on their own. Many have been living law abiding lives for many years here. They have roots, family and friends. And there is no way in hell we could ever round up and deport millions and millions of people. Think of the logistics alone – where to temporarily accommodate that many people in detention camps? How do you transport millions of people? And think of the scene on TV and Internet news – babies ripped from screaming mothers’ arms as National Guardsmen push her onto a train cattle car. I pray something like that never happens in America, and you know it won’t. So, let’s take the best hand we got dealt with and start the process we know is going to happen and bring these people out of the shadows so they can continue to contribute to our society with honest hard work. Paying taxes, and obeying the law. And for those who ask “How can we expect them to obey the law when they broke it when they entered the country?” Think about it for a minute: if you were living in Mexico or Central American and someone told you here’s a chance to get a decent job and live in America, would you take that chance? Does that mean you break every other law? Or does it mean you just wanted a better life for your children and their children and you did what you had to, to make it happen?
We screwed up and left the door open. Let’s use the tax money we’ll get when we bring them out from the shadows to close that door. Our country and all our people will be better off by doing both.
UPDATE: A Washington Post article details what exactly will be added for border security here in Arizona:
For the so-called Yuma and Tucson sectors in Arizona, for example, the bill requires installation of 50 fixed towers; 73 fixed camera systems; 28 mobile surveillance systems; 685 unattended ground sensors, including seismic, imaging and infrared; and 22 handheld equipment devices, including thermal imaging systems and night vision goggles. The legislation also requires a doubling of the Border Patrol, with the hiring of 20,000 new agents, the purchase of 12 new unmanned surveillance drones and the construction of 350 miles of new fencing, to bring the total to 700 miles.