For purposes of this post, Polimom wants to focus on Mexico.
No matter how many ways I look at the illegal immigration issues, and the House v. Senate approaches, I can’t help feeling we’re missing the boat.
For any solution to be considered comprehensive, it must answer why people are so determined to come here.
Folks have, of course, discussed this question, but it’s always in terms of our common humanity; the economy there, quite frankly, sucks, and people are trying to improve their lives. We all understand their situation, and sympathize (or at least, Polimom does).
But let’s stop right there.
Securing the borders doesn’t do anything to answer that foundational question. Guest worker programs won’t address it. Amnesty (even if I thought the Senate Bill said that, and I don’t) won’t fix it.
People will continue to look north as a way to find more opportunity, no matter which plan or compromise is adopted.
Have I missed an important amendment somewhere? Surely someone has added something to all this complicated and divisive legislation that addresses the systemic problems in Mexico?
If they haven’t, then we’re just flushing our money down the toilet, because all of our proposed solutions are nothing more than band-aids that in no way close the wound.
Myself, I think we should be strongly requesting (and even assisting with incentives or something) Mexico’s participation in a solution, particularly with economic and political adjustments that are so obviously needed.
I understand that they’re a sovereign nation. I also understand that Mexico’s government has, at the moment, little or no incentive to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants to the United States; we’re an escape valve that is enabling Mexico’s system to maintain its currently corrupt methods. (Ha! We’re enablers!)
But Is that that? End of story?
Has anybody but me been wondering about this?
What's missing from the illegal immigration solutions
For purposes of this post, Polimom wants to focus on Mexico.
It’s a little too easy to complain about Mexico being corrupt and badly run; even if Mexico’s government functioned perfectly, there’s still an enormous economic difference between our two countries that just isn’t going away quickly. As long as that’s true, the immigration pressure will be there.
I’m lifting this from something I wrote on the chronicle:
I mentioned corruption because I think (imvho) that there is very likely a relationship between it, and the economic disparities.
One of the best things I’ve read on the illegal immigration issue came from Glenn Reynolds, who at the time was writing about La Raza and la Reconquista. He basically said that even if we just gave these folks all of the former Mexican lands, and built a wall across the new border, the only thing that would change is where people crossed the border. It wouldn’t change the fact that they’d still come.
We really have a whole other layer of complexity that needs to be addressed.
“For any solution to be considered comprehensive, it must answer why people are so determined to come here.”
That would be true if we were seeking a solution to the impetus for immigration. But that is not how I perceive this issue, and it would seem atypical to our normal approach to dealing with just about any issue.
It would be like saying that a comprehensive solution to murder requires us to understand why people commit murder. Or that a comprehensive solution to drug use requires us to understand why people want to use drugs. I’m not analogizing illegal immigration to murder or drug use–I’m just pointing out that our normal approach to difficult problems is not to address the oft complicated source of the problem, but to deal with the more obvious manifestations of the problem. I.e., we treat the symptons, and not the disease.
While this approach seems less than ideal, in many cases, it is the only realistic option. Many diseases are, after all, incurable, such that the best course of treatment is to try and minimize the aggravating symptons. I think illegal immigration, murder, and drug use all fit this description. Quite simply, we can’t eliminate murderous desires, or addictive impulses, or the economic imbalances that compel illegals to pour across our borders.
I applaud you for trying to see the big picture. But when it comes to illegal immigration, the big picture includes governments that we have no control over. We can’t fix Mexico’s economy….let alone the rest of central and South America. If we want to eliminate the economic disparity, seems like the only thing we could do on our end is to make ourselves equally as poor as they are–hardly a solution. But making them as rich as we are isn’t something we can accomplish.
All this talk of a “comprehensive” solution is too fanciful. All we can do is to try and mitigate the problem, to the extent one exists. If you were dying of AIDS, you wouldn ‘t want doctors spinning their wheels, lamenting the lack of a cure. You’d want them to use whatever resources were available to make you feel better. Same here–let’s not get bogged down with impossible task of equalizing wealth on a global scale. We’re struggling with that domestically, after all.
Good points, PM. Until we address the root cause(s) of illegal immigration, anything we do (build a fence, wire the border like JenniCam, create a guest worker program, grant amnesty to all who are here) will simply be a Band-Aid.
The main causes seem to me to be (1) political oppression and (2) lack of economic opportunity. Given that number (2) is likely the cause of most of the illegal immigration we are seeing today, I would say that it is what we should address.
However, I also see Tortfeasor’s point, that sometimes all you can hope to do is to address the symptoms, and hope the underlying condition fixes itself.
One thing I think we *can* do, though, and it ties in with Tortfeasor’s linkage with drug abuse: if we were to eliminate the market for cheap, exploitable labor, then maybe we could reduce (not eliminate) the influx of illegals coming over seeking work. While I am not certain as to how we accomplish this, I am certain that we can quit being enablers by cutting off funding for those “day labor” centers where illegals congregate looking for work. We could also start getting serious about enforcing the laws – my mind is *boggled* by the hypocricy of a government which prohibits its police officers to question suspects about their immigration status, but then whines because people run red lights, speed, and solicit prostitutes.