Friday, January 27, 2017

Trump's Wall: Build It and Will They Stop Coming?

Well, it looks like it's finally going to happen. After repeatedly broken promises by former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and even Barak Obama, someone is actually stepping up to do something about illegal immigration, and that "something" is the construction of wall. Yelp, we've all heard it before, which usually ended up to pandering and lies, but it appears President Donald Trump is about to commit to spending approximately $8 billion dollars to seal the border with Mexico and cutback on the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border.

Mexico's President, Enrique Pena, is none too happy about it. It has said that the United States has "no right" to seal border because Mexico is "sovereign country". what? Former Mexican President, Vicente Fox, is now trotting out Nazi dictator and all purpose bogey man, Adolf Hitler in his description of "The Donald". Of course, Mr. Fox had previously said that the U.S. had "no right" to prevent Mexicans from coming and going as they pleased or from sending money they earn in American back home to Mexico, which depends heavily on these fund to prop up its economy. The former Mexican president has even said that the Mexicans living in the U.S. had a "right" to free and unhindered education (in Spanish of course), housing, healthcare, and so forth. He added that that whole sections of the American southwest and central west, including States like Texas, Colorado, Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico were stolen from his country and actually "belong" to Mexico. There is also the mythical Hispanic land known as "Aztlan", which was an extension of the Aztec Empire which encompassed these same lands.

Recently, a largely unheard of Native American tribe known as the Tohono O'Odham Nation has voiced its opposition to building the wall. The tribe, which has some 25,000 members, occupies around 2.8 million acres of land along the U.S. and Mexican border, with parts of its land actually stretching into Northwestern Mexico itself. Both Mexico and Washington recognizes the tribe as a sovereign nation as well. No doubt we'll be seeing other Native American tribes along the border, including the Navajo and Apache nations also stepping up to voice their opposition to the wall since it would leave them divided as well. As much as I dislike illegal immigration, I can't say I blame the Tohono O'Odham People, or any of the other Native American tribes. They were forced onto lands that were largely not their own and told how to live but not given the means to live. Native American reservations are on par with the poorest communities to be found anywhere in America, including Appalachia and Ozarks, but at least those people choice to live there for whatever reasons. It's a miracle any of them have survived, and so I can see their point about having their lands divided by a wall. But, for a wall to be effective, it has to be a solid continuous structure.

As for the upside, President Trump is expected to employ upwards of 20,000 people to help build the wall, which will include motion sensors, observation towers, barbed wire, trenches, and special access roads. That's a lot of potential jobs for these mostly unemployed Native Americans (Trump had also promised that only U.S. citizens would be employed in the construction and operation of the border wall). In addition, Trump has promised to reinstate the budget and manpower to the Border Patrol and ICE, cut by President Obama, and to restore its full law enforcement authority which had been stripped by former Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder. Even so-called "Sanctuary Cities", which openly violate federal laws by providing legal cover for illegal residents, are now facing the loss of federal funding. Nevertheless, there is a downside too.

The drug cartels are experts at crossing the border; even crossing into the United States all along the Gulf Coast and up the Pacific coastline. They have dug more tunnels than the Germans did during World War II or Hamas has in the Gaza Strip...and they're just as professionally built too; complete with lighting, tracks, staging areas, fresh air vents, reinforced walls, and in some cases, even elevators. There are literally hundreds of miles of tunnels that run under our border with Mexico. Some open up into fields while most open into outbuildings like garages and sheds. Others come up into houses and businesses that line the border, with safe houses that spread out in out all directions. How do prepare against that? Despite decades of effort, even the DEA and FBI haven't been successful in stopping the flow of drugs into this country from south of border. In fact, the situation got so bad at one point, Attorney General Eric Holder essentially seceded almost an entire county in Arizona to the drug cartels---even posting signs for "Anglos" and others to stay out. Farmers and ranchers along the border often report of property and livestock being stolen, not to mention illegally banging on their doors demands food, water, or shelter. On several occasions, they've reported seeing groups of illegal immigrants being escorted across the border by Mexican troops and helicopters (and some have reported even being fired on).

Once the wall goes up, we can expect to hear the whining of groups about separating families due to someone being caught and deported or the occasional individual who may actually go to jail. Of course, there will be the ubiquitous "People Aren't Illegal" or "No One is Illegal" signs popping up. People need to remember that these families are not randomly being "broken up" or separated. These are individuals who knowingly and willingly broke the law. They understood the risks and what it would do to them and their families. And, no, people aren't "illegal", but their actions can certainly be, and being in this country in violation of federal immigration laws is against the law. Requiring U.S. taxpayers to pick up the financial tap for someone not here legally is also wrong, be it the mandatory hiring of Spanish language teachers and tutors because a child can't speak English or their parents refuse to allow their child be to taught English. The same goes for religious institutions and other groups to brazenly help to smuggle and/or individuals, not to mention to find housing (including lying on leases), places of employment, and worse of all, teaching them how to bypass existing laws and regulations. These are things that a wall or any other barrier cannot fix.

Therefore, while I support the concept of wall, I don't think it will work. It's simply not apractical solution. Ask the former East Germans or the Israelis. For that matter, ask the FBI, INS, the Border Patrol or the DEA. There are no limits to human ingenuity, and if a wall goes up, there will those who will make it their mission in life to find a way through it, under it, over it, or around it. Even with the extra personnel and electronic gadgetry, every system has it flaws and weaknesses. So, while I support the building of a wall in theory, it reality it just won't work. However, there is a solution to the problem of illegal immigration which is much cheaper and more effective. That solution is enforceable regulations (i.e.: regulations which have teeth).

What I purpose is fairly simple. In fact, much of it already exists except the laws lack any "bite" and are rarely and poorly enforced. The solution is imposing large and stiff fines on any institution or group (religiously affiliated or not) and the automatic suspension of their tax-exempt status starting with the first conviction. Typically, churches and other religious organizations were always "untouchable" when it came to serving search warrants, even with probable cause. Individuals, families, or even small groups are smuggled into the church, where they remain until it's safe to smuggle them out. This made them the perfect place to hide. As long as they remained on church property, no one could (or would) touch them. Individuals, be it ministers, priests, rabbis, or just part of the network, would help to find places for them to live, including falsifying leases, as well as assisting in finding employers who wouldn't ask questions. I think that in addition to the institution being fined and facing a suspension of their tax-exempt status, each individual who assists should be fined as well (plus any other penalties for falsifying on legal agreements). If you're looking for a legal example, how bout Mexico? Not only do they have a wall with its neighbor to the south, anyone caught aiding someone in the country illegally gets to go to one of its fine federal institutions...on their first conviction. I'm not willing to go quite that least for a first conviction...but for repeatedly convictions, I think the fine should become of increasingly stiff and certainly by the third conviction, they may require a "timeout" at some U.S. facility. As for any tax exempt institution, I think the fines should be increase harsh and their tax-exempt suspension should be increasingly longer so that by their third conviction, it should be permanently revoked and the officers prohibited from serving as an officer or member of any future boards.

As for the true criminal in this case, the employer, the penalty should be equally harsh. They should also be increasingly fined, plus a suspension of their business charter---perhaps something like 30 days, 90 days, six months, and finally, permanent. In addition, with the permanent suspension of their corporate chapter, no company which employs them as an officer or board member will be eligible to receive any federal loans or contracts, either directly or indirectly. As we all know from simple economics, if we eliminate the demand, we will eliminate the supply. By the same token, if we make the costs greater than the reward, people will seek other economic opportunities. However, as a caveat, we all know that certain employers---mostly in agriculture---depend on seasonal and often illegal workers. It should be incumbent on these employers to obtain work permits ("green cards") for those individuals, which should be made available with as little red tape as possible for obvious reasons. In addition, they should provide proof of health from a US physician or clinic. We are seeing to many instances of easily transmittable diseases such as TB entering this country.

Individual currently in this country illegally, gainfully employed, and with no criminal record, should be given 90 days to apply for permission to live and work in this country. If they fail to, they should be deported and not denied an opportunity to reapply for five years. Schools should continue to provide taxpayer paid teachers and/or tutors, however, the objective will change to teaching this children how to speak English in addition to helping with their education. Lastly, the notion of "anchor babies" is out the window. The original concept was to keep the British from reasserting the influence over the new American Republic by flooding our shores with their immigrants. Therefore, it was assumed that a child born in America would be to this country and not to the country of their parents or ancestors. Henceforth, the concept of an "anchor baby" should be relegated to the history books. A child should be considered an American Citizen if one or both of its parents are a U.S. citizen either by birth or naturalization. So, there you have it folks! That's my take on the notion of a wall with Mexico and how was could deal with the problem of illegal immigration. It's not a perfect solution I know, but what I suggest is practical and could be accomplished with minimum cost, little disruption (especially to Native American tribes), and the legal outline is already in place.

By the way---Trump's promise that Mexico will pay for the wall, perhaps through a tariff on Mexican products? Don't count on it. Businesses operating in Mexico will most likely raise the cost of their products and as always, U.S. consumers will do the paying. The Mexican government could even levy their own tariff on American made products. I have a simpler solution. According to the latest U.S. State Department figures, in 2013 we gave Mexico $51.5 million dollars in aid to help prop up their government and economy. Why not simply offset the cost of the wall from that?

As Trump Orders Wall, Mexico's President Considers Cancelling U.S. Trip

Trump and Mexico's president had an hour-long phone call

Trump orders construction of border wall, boost deportation force

Border wall may face Arizona hurdle from Tohono O'Odham

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