Immigration & Border Control

Immigration certainly is not a simple topic. Nor is border control. The issue is: How can America allow good people to move here? 


Where the issue stands today: The vast majority of immigrants are not gang members smuggling anything (including fentanyl) or anybody. Nearly all of them want to move here to live and work – like the ancestors of most current citizens did. Just as a robust and growing American economy had plenty of jobs available for our own immigrant forebears, there are more than plenty of vacant positions today. Filling the millions of continually-open jobs actually helps our economy and provides more, better-paying work for all groups.


People can move to the United States legally through temporary work permits or student visas, or by gaining asylum from danger in their home country. But America has large problems dealing with (1) the millions of people crossing the border to seek asylum and (2) those simply crossing the border illegally. Huge delays plague the processing of asylum claims, and illegal entry is high.


One obstacle is that the U.S. immigration policy primarily was designed for an era when mostly Mexican single adults came here looking for work. Now, whole families from all over the world want to enter. Confusion and misinformation outside the United States leads people to believe incorrectly that they will be allowed in here, which increases the numbers of people crossing the border. Throngs are living as refugees in tents and camps, and with others.


Meanwhile, a separate group of around 670,000 people, who before 2007 were brought to America illegally as children and now are adults, remain in limbo as Congress has not agreed on whether they should be allowed to stay.


Principles involved: Freedom and free enterprise, along with protecting the vulnerable, are the American values most relevant to immigration and border security. 


Given the shortages of workers necessary to fill labor-intensive jobs in the United States, plus the need by American companies for skilled workers, it would boost the American economy if limits on permitted foreign workers were raised substantially. Only Congress can adjust these numerical caps. It should increase legal immigration to a level equivalent to the job openings posted in America.


The second straightforward action should be for Congress to pass the much discussed “DACA” bill to allow the hundreds of thousands brought here as children, who have attended school or served in the military, and who have no serious criminal record since, to remain and become citizens. These childhood arrivals (the average age of which is now 28) then can pursue higher education and careers. Both Republican and Democratic voters strongly support this pathway to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers.”


Asylum is the hardest sub-issue to solve. While most asylum seekers probably want in for economic reasons or family unification, rather than purely for personal safety from violence or political repression, the best way to protect those who are truly vulnerable is through speedy screening. That requires budgeting for staff, software, and modern processing systems. With expedited processing, we can justify requiring all border crossers to live in government housing during the very short wait while their applications are adjudicated. Those not in immediate danger of persecution or violence still could be allowed to emigrate with an adequate, objective showing of skills, education, being law-abiding, and able to support themselves without governmental assistance.


Everyone else, including anyone who tries to sneak in after the new policies are in place, must stay out.


One specific issue today is whether a completed wall along our southern border will help America. Contrary to some belief, America’s borders are not “wide open.” The Mexican border is approximately 2,000 miles long, more than 1,200 miles of which is the Rio Grande River. The other 700 miles are on land. Fencing today covers over one-third of the entire border.

If anyone thinks that to “build the wall” or “finish the wall” really would solve America’s problems, they are unrealistic. There is no wall that can be built that will make America completely “secure.” There is no wall that can stop Americans from using drugs or dying from it. There is no wall that will make our streets crime-free.


Having said all this, there indeed may be valid reasons to build additional or better barriers. More construction should take place only to the extent erecting walls will help deter illegal entry, impede smuggling, and promote lawful immigration.


Ordinary citizens cannot know exactly why people from other countries act illegally, and most politicians (particularly candidates) are not much better positioned to know or to inform us. And, none of us can be sure what prevents illegal entry most effectively and efficiently. Therefore, border wall construction should be influenced by nonpolitical federal agents on site.


What do our people on the ground need to deter illegal entry and faster process legal entry? What will enable them to apprehend those who cannot be deterred from making illegal attempts? In other words, what will allow them to do their jobs successfully? We should follow the advice of experts.