Mark L. Hopkins: The illegal immigration argument
The presidential campaign of 2016 is already in full swing, and the primary issues have crystallized. Chief among these is what to do about illegal immigration and about the estimated 11 million illegals hiding just below the surface in our country.
The problems related to illegal immigration are complicated to solve which is why our representatives in Washington, D.C., have had so much difficulty reaching a solution to this ongoing problem. Much of the public discussion is focused on our southern border and the constant flow of Mexican nationals across our border into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. This is a stretch of geography that extends more than 1,500 miles across desert and mountains that is almost impossible to patrol, much less control.
Millions of dollars have already been spent building a fence and quadrupling the number of border patrols. Our leaders have traveled to both sides of the border to meet and discuss the problem with various officials representing both Mexico and the U.S. Knowledgeable people tell us that a complete closing of that vulnerable border will have little effect. The Rio Grande and the rest of our Southern border can be likened to the military defense line created by France after WWI to protect them from the Germans. When Hitler decided to invade France at the beginning of WWII, his tanks simply choose a different route, rolled own the super highway and they were in Paris in 30 days. No wall in history has ever had much success keeping people out, and that includes Hadrian’s Wall in England, the Berlin Wall in Germany and the Great Wall of China. Some smart person said, “No 10-foot fence will ever defeat an 11-foot ladder.”
We can close our southern border, but we have other borders to the east, west and north. They are far more extensive and difficult to control than the one between the U.S. and Mexico.
In short, if the illegal immigrants want to come, we can’t stop them. To solve the problem we have to make them not want to come. That key is in the answer to one question, “What motivates illegal immigrants to violate our laws and take great personal risks to come to The U.S.?” The answer is obvious. It is the U.S. economy that provides work, money, and the best standard of living in the world. Immigrants, legal or illegal, are attracted to the wealth, opportunity, and hope that is the American dream. It’s the same thing that attracts ants to a picnic?
Where should we start to control the flow of illegal immigrants? Start with the
businesses and industries that are the source of the jobs and opportunity. Do we need
new laws to enforce? We may, but maybe not. Do we need to enforce the laws we have?
Absolutely. We should increase our vigilance regarding who is employed and who the employers are who are complicit in the violation of our laws. And, we should prosecute the violators to the fullest extent of the law. Will that solve the problem? No, not totally, but it will begin to discourage the ants from the picnic.
What should we do about the 11 million illegal immigrants who are already here?
Again, the issue is jobs. If we shut down the availability of jobs for undocumented workers, we will see many of them exit the country for better opportunities elsewhere.
Should all illegals be deported? No. Many of them should stay, but those who receive
this “amnesty” should be in necessary jobs and should show evidence of assimilation. This should include language development and other benchmarks that show they have made progress in becoming a productive part of American society.
The sooner we get focused on what is attracting illegal immigrants, the sooner we can get a handle on this problem. Folks, the key issue isn’t our borders, it is enforcing our laws in the workplace.
Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.