Saturday, June 22, 2013


Border Security First, then a Path to Citizenship

That's the way the debate about immigration reform is shaping up.  The Senate has approved a bill to spend an additional 30 billion dollars ($30,000,000,000) on border security.  According to the Los Angeles Times this morning, several ranchers who live next to the border between Arizona an Mexico think that there are already enough border control agents.  Their opinion is that the border, at least where they are, is secure enough.

There is a serious proposal in Congress to build a high fence along the border from Texas to California.  The fence will keep wildlife (except birds) from crossing the border and will, therefore, have a bad effect on the critters that now are able to forage on both sides of the border for food and water.  It won't stop the flow of humans.  Humans are clever enough to find ways around and through the fence.

The people who are making these proposals aren't stupid.  They know the limitations of fences and border agents in keeping people out.  But, don't forget an ancient maxim of politics: It isn't truth that matters, but rather what people believe.  The voting public, or at least some voters, believe that it is possible to close off all "illegal" immigration.  A few of them believe that it is possible to locate all of the six million or so persons who are living here without papers and send them all back south across the border into Mexico.  These are the voters who must be placated before anything serious and practical can be done about the six million.

Hence, Congress will appropriate money for a fence and for thousands and thousands of additional border guards.  There will be stories in the news about capturing and returning hordes of migrants.  The rate of sneaking in will diminish to a trickle.  Then Congress will be free to enact legislation to allow the six million to pay fines for sneaking in - or staying in after their visitor visas have expired - and applying for permanent residence permits, green cards, and, ultimately, citizenship.

Of course there will be a few die-hards who will never agree to the idea of allowing the six million to stay regardless of border security.  The die-hards will insist on rounding up every one of the six million and marching him across the border.  The fact that not all of the six million came from Mexico won't matter.  They have brown skins and speak a different language.

The die-hards will eventually be overwhelmed by the more sensible ones.

I'm optimistic this morning.
This is a correction: the number of "illegal aliens" in the country is about eleven million, not six million.
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