U.S. Southern Border - Illegal Immigrants, Border Security

After watching CNN over the past weeks (unfortunately I dont have Fox News for fair and balanced reporting), I wanted to find out the views of the american Arrsers on this topic. I know some of the views of political comentators, pro and con, but the opinions of the american public hasnt really been aired on the news. Just wondered what peoples views were on the subject.
I'm originally from California....as you can see by the news, it's a flashpoint for this issue in my hometown.

This issue is complicated, mainly because it's virtually impossible to separate the racial component from the legal questions. People both for and against restricted immigration are given to trotting out the old ethnic boogeymen in order to frighten their constituents. I feel that is a pointless area of discussion because many of the key states in this struggle (the ones that would be directly impacted by building a wall, or whatever) have always been, and always will be, fairly integrated. And I don't have time for people who base their politics on race.

There is no denying that many Americans have financially benefited from the automatic slave labor force that illegal immigration has provided...it could be argued that cheap and unregulated labor is one of the factors in making California's economy the seventh strongest in the world. On the other hand, many other Americans feel that their lives have been negatively impacted financially or otherwise by the presence of undocumented immigrants in their cities.

Removing the racial component, I think the following points come clear:

1. Undocumented workers are not protected from exploitation and abuse by unethical employers and traffickers...see the recent Chinese cockle worker deaths for a local example, but this kind of thing happens all the time in California....it just tends to only be reported locally.

People die all the time trying to cross the border, abandoned by "coyotes" or smothered in airless containers. Never mind what happens when they get here.

2. A country that wants its citizens to be protected and accountable cannot really allow unrestricted traffic across its borders; especially a country that neighbors with a land in such a continual state of chaos as Mexico.

I AM a child of a former "guest worker" so I have some authority in the matter of what chaos drives people to leave their home and become second-class citizens in another country; but that doesn't change the facts that there must be monitoring.

3. There is a strong criminal element existing south of the border that sees an advantage in unrestricted traffic between the U.S. and the Southwest. Quite a bit of it is government-backed, in my own tinfoil-tiara opinion. But there are recent examples of our neighbors taking some aggressive liberties with the unrestricted border, such as new tunnels and alleged sightings of Mexican soldiers in the southwestern desert...this cannot be allowed indefinitely because we simply don't know who's responsible. (I also believe that much of this is related to our criminalization of drugs, but that's another thread.) We have plenty of our own homegrown a$$holes, we don't need anybody else's at this point.

So I feel that there must be restriction on immigration. We simply can't not know who's in the country, and the situation as it stands is not manageable. I don't know if a huge friggin' wall is necessary, but a sensible examination of resources needs to be done.

But I also believe it's necessary to examine what attracts people here...assuming that the driving force of illegal immigration has historically been finding work and increasing their quality of life, I feel that the first thing that needs to be dealt with is the potential economic impact of illegal immigration.

Personally, I am in favor of eased citizenship process for those that truly want to live here. I am also in favor of limited monitored guest worker programs, because I believe that regulated immigrant labor can provide benefits to both sides. This can be a platform to accelerated citizenship.

On the other hand, I believe that state/federal tax benefits should be offered to employers in certain industries that choose to employ American citizens...if you can find any to do the work in question. It is not the undocumented laborers' fault that American employers want to go cheap, that's called a free market. If the government is really serious about reducing illegal immigration, then help make it worth employers' while to employ non-illegals. In a competitive industry, "doing the right thing" is apparently not enough. And employer fines dont' seem to be working. Besides, if we allow a certain amount of professional workers from other countries in a year (50,000 per country, I believe) then it is only fair to offer a number of non-professional workers the same deal.

There are other issues that impact heavily, such as whether or not public benefits should be extended to illegal immigrants or their children. On one hand, a lot of American citizens can't get public assistance...I see the logic in maintaining these limited reserves for citizens. On the other hand, the laws of the land dictate that a child born on American soil is American, and therefore entitled to the basic benefits. You can't just deport a newborn's parents...on the other hand, there aren't enough beds at our state hospitals to accommmodate needy citizens, never mind illegal immigrants trekking up there to have babies on American soil. This is something else that needs addressing...resolution will no doubt p!ss everyone off, because of the aforementioned ethnic component, but it must be addressed compassionately and sensibly on behalf of the American public.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that America's gone through the immigration debate (the xenophobes vs. the special interest groups) since our inception. We'll get through this one too, after the debate "matures."
Why have immigration laws if you don't enforce them?

It's gone to stupid levels, there are actually illegal immigrant watering points in the middle of the desert, so that those crossing the border don't die of thirst. You didn't exactly have rest stops in San Francisco Bay so that escapees from Alcatraz wouldn't drown. I have no problem with the wall. Another fun one is the issueing of drivers licenses to illegal immigrants: The theory being that they're going to be driving anyway, so why not at least make sure that they're safe about it? You have people accusing Schwarzenegger of not being sympathetic to immigrants, which seems a little odd given he's an Austrian with an accent.

One of the arguments in favour of allowing the mass immigration is that the economy depends on it. Presidente Fox put it thusly, Mexicans do the jobs that even blacks won't do. (As you can imagine, the NAACP was not particularly happy with that statement.) They're usually hard workers, and they work for peanuts. If only legal immigrants were to be put to work, prices for lots of stuff would go up, and the economy would collapse. Or something like that. Funnily enough, it reminds me an awful lot of an argument in favour of keeping some form of cheap labour back in.. oh.. 1860 or so, from certain Southern states.

Probably a better argument is more idealistic: America being the land of opportunity (Give me your poor, your tired, etc), made by immigrants, these people are only coming up to find a better life, just as the place advertises. Why should they be denied?

On the counterside, you have the issues of security, which is reasonable enough, I guess. Especially since lots of countries don't seem to like the US very much right now. Why bother fingerprinting/photographing everyone at JFK airport when they can just walk across the border at El Paso?

You also have the rather unusual fact that the illegal immigrants will generally cost the taxpayer a lot of money in sustainability. Schwarzenegger claims that the annual cost of illegal immigration in California is to the tune of billions of dollars. Here's why (And if you thought the firearms laws were screwy...)

Basically, the states cannot enforce immigration law. That is a federal duty, undertaken purely by the INS and Border Patrol. With few exceptions, State, city and county police cannot arrest illegal immigrants simply because they are illegal. There have been some novel attempts at getting around this law, for example a New Hampshire sheriff tried sueing a detained illegal for trespassing without permission on county property about a year ago. (Didn't work). The Minutemen volunteers and the Guardsmen that the odd state has deployed to the border can do nothing but observe and report, calling in the Feds. There is some dispute as to if even the Federal Army can be used: Though maintaining territorial integrity is most definitely a function of the Army, dealing with illegal immigrants or smugglers or even terrorists comes under civil policing, which the Army is forbidden from doing.

So, all residents of a state are entitled to all benefits applicable, be it from grants for college education, through healthcare, you name it. As the state legally isn't allowed to care if you're there legally or not, all such financial aid is up for grabs, while a lot of the immigrants don't pay taxes. Similarly, for example, a lot drive around without insurance (They're keeping a low profile, after all, why make calls they don't need to?) and when they have a prang and put someone else in hospital, the State picks up the bill for that as well.

If the government, in its wisdom, decides that the immigration requirements should be loosened, then so be it. But for crying out loud, enforce whatever laws are on the books.

The key word in it all is 'illegal'

The US, like most countries, has a system to allow people from other counties to apply for short term or permanent residency, as well as refuge.

Why should those who decide to arrive, and stay, without following the process that other Immigrants must follow, be given special 'rights' to stay? Why should the door be open for special benefits, housing and education?

Race has no place in this unless one chooses to make it an issue.

On the issue of Mexico, (and immigrants from Mexico are not the only illegals) there was an article a while back, claiming that if the US didn't accept Mexican immigrants, Canada would welcome them. The article in typical fashion missed the point completely, as it said the Canadian embassy in Mexico was taking applications from potential immigrants.
It is not those who take the effort to apply that are a problem.
It is a complicated problem, and unfortunately the media has focused on the Mexican angle. Here in the Washington DC area the largest number of illegals are from El Salvador, followed by Korea. I remember reading that the second largest number of illegals in the US came from Canada.

Another factor that no one mentions are the byzantine US immigration laws. If you are here on a student visa, the day after you finish school you're illegal. Ditto if you overstay your tourist visa.

The biggest factor that no one has mentioned is why do so many Mexicans come here. It because the Mexican government is ridiculuosly corrupt that it has kept the country as a giant plantation, with no opprtunity for upward mobility. Any problems can be solved by encouraging people to head north. All of this while the Mexican government strictly defends its borders.
Another factor that no one mentions are the byzantine US immigration laws. If you are here on a student visa, the day after you finish school you're illegal. Ditto if you overstay your tourist visa.

Every country is like that. That is why you are given a visa in the first place...to give you adequate time to leave. teh UK is just the same.
It boils down to money. Every country, and I will use GB as an example, would rather spend money on PC-ness and giving money to one legged lesbian asylum seekers who are already in the country and which costs, for the sake of argument £10 as opposed to one officer doing their job at a cost of £50.
i am sure our US Brethren are in exactly the same position...no-one wants to stump up billions (and that is not a typo), when if they turn a blind eye it will cost a lot less and they can spend the money on another 100 cruise missiles.
yank_eyetie said:
............ I remember reading that the second largest number of illegals in the US came from Canada.

Another factor that no one mentions are the byzantine US immigration laws. If you are here on a student visa, the day after you finish school you're illegal. Ditto if you overstay your tourist visa.
I've heard that stated before, but it really was only brought up as a segway in the discussion of the southern border. while there are no doubt 'illegal' immigrants from Canada, I doubt they are the second largest group. It's impossible for anyone to know for sure, since 'Illegals' are not tracked and are not registered.

yank_eyetie said:
The biggest factor that no one has mentioned is why do so many Mexicans come here. It because the Mexican government is ridiculuosly corrupt that it has kept the country as a giant plantation, with no opprtunity for upward mobility. Any problems can be solved by encouraging people to head north. All of this while the Mexican government strictly defends its borders.
Mexico also aids their citizens who are in the US illegally, driving around the country in mobile consular vans, giving them 'maticular' cards once they get to the US, which Mexico wants US authorities to accept as proper 'documentation'.

It would seem a great deal for Mexico, they get rid of people they seem to not want, and they make sure another country takes care of all their needs.

The Mexican government wants to control immigration of their own citizens to the US themselves, rather than the US doing it.
Problem is further complicated when some local governments decide to accept this documentation as legitimate.
The U.S. economy in fact does benifit from the millions of Guest Workers in this country. You go around messing with the status quo and folks suffer.
Immigration in this land of immigrants is a pendulum.

You get it right? Like ole' Roger Miller sang:

"England swings like a pendulum do."

Here...along the border and infact all across this Great Nation...the 'hispanics' are the largest growing ethnic group.

These workers do infact work very hard for their money.
Many wire most of their incomes back home.

I've seen the transformation of the oil field from mostly caucasian
into bust...the the new boom finds most skilled oil field workers replacing the caucasians who moved on after the big bust of the 80s and 90s.

In come skilled young workers who make enough to carry rolls of large bills into the local walmart and they often drive new pickups and have decent housing...now most of these folks ARE legal.

Yep the border is a tough place...many illegals cross over doing bad stuff...smuggling...etc..

We've seen the old unoffical crossings drying up...due to the crackdown.

Desert folks suffer is they must drive hundereds of miles to a legal crossing...or walk hundereds of miles to cross unoffically.

The Mexicans and others from Central and South America and the 'OTM's
(other than Mexicans) are finding it more difficult to cross unnoticed.

We don't mind the Mexicans...hell it's their continent too.

It 'twernt Mexicans who attacked us. Infact Many hispanics were involved in building the TWCs and in fact many died there.

The main problem as I see it...is the reluctance to legalize undocumented workers...many are illiterate or cannot speak or write 'English'.

Our Government should realize That the United States of Mexico is our friend...even after our war way back...and the nationalization of the mexican oil business.

Out here on the border...I've found the mexicans and their culture very pleasant....

I do not like the idea of armed gangs threatening the U.S.A. but maybe we can work with them on other issues...such as what ole' Kinky Freedman'

7 mexican states border the U.S.A. one Mexican General in charge of each of the state's borders. Kinky wants up to put up a few $million" in a Swiss account in the names of each of the Generals contingent upon closing those borders to illegals...and if one crosses and we catch them...then remove $10K per occurence...the border crossings would stop.


(I love those 'lowrider cholas'...every chance I get.)
Well weatherman, why not just allow anyone to come to the US who wants to, and give them all legal status and a short track to citizenship?

Right now there are two standards of immigration in the US, one for those who dare to apply by the rules, are told the language of the country is English, that they are not to become a burden on society, subject to instant deportation, and the other for those who thumb their nose at the rules, yet once they arrive are greeted with open arms and, according to some, should be given anything they need, services in their native languages, and a fast track to citizenship as a reward.
I agree with TankiesYank and California_Tanker and they have more first hand experience with the problem than I do.

There are a lot of Mexicans who come to Florida to pick fruit and they have done so for years but you don't encounter them as often. They are often forced to live in squalid conditions and you would often hear of them being charge more for rent for a small run down trailer than they make in a month in wages by the same company that hires them. The only way they make it work is squeezing as many as then can into a single trailer.

They work like this for several years sending money back to their family in Mexico where that money will build them a descent home so they have something to look forward to. So for people to say they are here to do work American's are not willing to do is technically correct but that is because Americans can't possible live on the wages they get paid, let alone afford a house.

lately there have been more and more illegal Mexicans working in other areas and taking jobs of construction subcontractors. They are making much better money. They can afford to rent the same homes at the same rent as locals though they still have 3 or 4 per bedroom. They also buy trucks, tools, and what ever they need to work. They also have more money to send home. This creates a problem with the locals who are now in direct competition for the work.

I know several contractors and several subcontractors. The contractors love the Mexicans because they show up on time all at once in one vehicle, they do good, hard work all day long, and the undercut everyone on what they charge. This of course doesn't sit well with the local subcontractors which are use to having it easy. It has driven prices down which puts a burden on the local subcontractors because they have to pay insurance, workman's comp, taxes, etc. You would think this ultimately helps the home buyer but the cost of building homes has still been rising. This is due to many factors but mostly because of a housing boom, the hurricane damage.

The fact that there has been little controversy so far in Florida may be because of the shortage of construction workers. I think this may boil over when the housing boom and the reconstruction from hurricane damage dies down and people start losing jobs. When the locals aren't able to find work or have to accept even less pay, they will blame the illegal Mexicans.

I don't fault the Mexicans in any of this. They are for the most part good workers and they are good people trying to make a living like the rest of us. The problem lies with the employees who hire them at below standard wages, often below minimum wage. I don't mind a guest worker program if the same laws apply to the guest workers as the resident workers. They should be paid the same wages and receive the same benefits. They should also be required to carry the same licenses, insurance, etc and have taxes collected. We already have "guest workers" that come here with work visas and have to pay taxes but get the same protections from the law. They are mostly professionals but I dont see why it can't be extended to Mexican laborers. With that there should be a crack down much harder on employees who hire illegals and also flaunt the workers laws.

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