The unrelenting flow of illegal immigrants cannot be stanched with bribes, bailouts and other Band-Aids, despite perpetual federal patchwork programs.
The newest is what amounts to a federal bribe to hospital staffs: Report illegal immigrants who try to obtain medical care, in return for a share of $1 billion to compensate hospitals.
Also costly is the ludicrous bailout program: Taxpayers spend $100,000 daily to fly apprehended illegal immigrants to faraway Mexico City, a program that ultimately will cost about $14 million.
But the most heinous move came years ago under President Clinton, when Border Patrol staffing was beefed up to unprecedented levels at the usual border stretches used for illegal entry into Arizona, California and Texas.
Illegal immigrants simply moved to different, exceedingly dangerous crossways.
The feds call it “deterrence.” That’s the code word for “death,” because the result has been to send men, women and children into extreme risk in our searing deserts.
In southern Arizona alone, about 200 illegal immigrants have perished over the past year during optimistic treks toward what they had hoped would be a better life. They have, in fact, been deterred to death.
At the same time, businesses and corporations throughout America continue to rely – illegally – on those illegal immigrants who do manage to make it across our borders. The workers are grateful to be paid a pittance, in most instances, to perform some of the most thankless factory, janitorial and slaughterhouse work.
So we turn a blind eye to two criminal activities that receive de facto federal sanctions. The hiring of illegal immigrants is ignored because it’s “good for the economy,” not to mention profits. And our deadly “deterrence” policy goes unnoted until crews arrive to collect the corpses.
Mexico, of course, also has a substantial role to play. It must crack down on immigrant smugglers before they cross the border. A strong Mexican economy will also lessen the illegal immigration pressure.
The United States cannot allow foreigners to traipse illegally across our borders. At the same time, our economy cannot withstand the sudden downturn sure to result if our work force were decimated.
Immigrants provide more than they get, the National Academy of Sciences has found. The short-term costs we incur from immigrant labor, legal or illegal, are easily erased by increased productivity.
Our government must acknowledge all of these realities and implement a sound policy to secure our borders and thus protect Americans and our economy.
Change is crucial
A guest worker program is desperately needed, using computer-coded identification cards to track all visiting workers.
Employers must be held accountable for the status of guest workers they hire, and any change in venue for these visitors must be reported by their supervisors.
The flexibility to change jobs is essential for guest workers. This will allow them to contribute more fully to our economy by finding the placement that provides them their highest and best use.
By legalizing employment of approved immigrants, the Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security can focus on barring those who would harm our nation.
Safety is key. But it will come only when we shed the denial and inhumanity now depriving us of a sound border policy.