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The Case For The Fence

Thomas Friedman sums up my feelings on the immigration issue with one phrase:

America today is struggling to find the right balance of policies on immigration.

Personally, I favor a very high fence, with a very big gate.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

For the past couple of years this is the approach to immigration policy that I have favored.

I believe that our immigration laws should be vigorously enforced. For over a decade we just haven't taken the issue seriously. Millions of illegal immigrants have wandered across our southern border and taken up residence in our communities. They drive down wages and avoid paying certain types of taxes like payroll taxes and income taxes.

Some would have us believe that these illegals are "good" for our economy. That they "contribute" just as much as any American. That is nonsense. Rich Lowry pointed out in a recent column that the average illegal immigrant will consume $89,000 more in government services than he/she pays in taxes over a lifetime. Many estimates put the number of illegal immigrants in this country at 11,000,000. If that's true, those 11,000,000 illegal immigrants will end up costing this country approximately $979 trillion tax dollars over their lifetimes. As more illegals cross our southern border that number is only going to go up.

You know what comes after "trillion" in our numbering system? Quadrillion. Sound scary? It should be, and we are getting dangerously close to it.

Clearly, tens of millions of illegal immigrants living in our communities is not something this country can afford. To stop the inward flow of illegals we need a fence. We need barbed wire. We need more border guards. We need anything that will stop the illegals at the border and turn them back. Simultaneously, we also need tougher enforcement of immigration laws here at home so that our law enforcement officers can arrest these illegals when they come across them and ship them out of the country as quickly as possible where they'll stay, hopefully, thanks to our increased border security. We cannot provide any quarter for those who have broken our immigration laws as it will only encourage more law breaking. Our policy should be this: If you are found to be in this country illegally you will be expelled from it as quickly as possible.

That sums up the "big wall" part of Mr. Friedman's statement, but there is another part that is equally important and that part is the "big gate" portion. I am 100% in favor of making our immigration laws more liberal. Let's allow more immigrants in and let's make the process they go through to get in as easy and short as possible. Immigration is a healthy, wonderful thing for this country. The people who have come to this country from all over the world have, for the most part, made this country stronger. There is no good reason why we should deny legal passage into this country to the millions of hard-working Mexicans below our southern border who want nothing more than to come here and create a better life for themselves and their families.

I say we throw open the gate and let as many of them in as we can. I'd even go so far as to say that border enforcement will not be successful unless it is coupled with an "open gate" policy for legal immigration. There is no denying that these people are desperate to get to this country. They have already shown that, as a people, they are more than willing to risk their lives - as well as the lives of their children - to get into our country. If we provide them an easy and legal alternative to risking their lives there is no reason why they shouldn't take it and stop trying to force their way across.

So where does a guest worker program fit in all of this? It doesn't, as far as I'm concerned. It would create a population of workers who would come into our country, earn wealth from our economy, and then send that wealth our of our country instead of re-investing it in our economy. There is also the question of the wisdom of creating a class of half-citizens who have a vested interest in our economy but no real loyalty to our political structure. There is no room for divided allegiances in America. If you want to be an American, that's wonderful. Come and live in our communities and take up the liberties and responsibilities that come with citizenship. If you want to remain a citizen of whatever country you came from, that's great too. Stay in your own country. We are only interested in those who want to be American.

Cross-posted at Rob's blog Say Anything

Posted by Rob Port · 6 April 2006 10:38 AM


That's not a bad idea. The great wall of America sounds kind of cool!...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at April 6, 2006 11:45 AM


Rob Port is IN DA HOUSE!

Posted by: Ken McCracken at April 6, 2006 02:25 PM

Rob: Nice post. "Mamma's gonna build you a wall."

One minor mathematical point. I think you mean 979 billion, not trillion.

Still, it's one of the things that drives me crazy, hearing about all the tax dollars the illegal immigrants are paying.

Posted by: Giacomo at April 6, 2006 04:20 PM

Yay! Rob Port is a WILLisms. Host...NOW What about that wall? Let's get to work!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at April 6, 2006 04:30 PM

I agree with just about everything Friedman writes except for the "national identity card" idea. A "national identity card" smacks of Big Brother knowing too much about where, when, what and why you are doing something. I just do not like it.

However I do favor stringent immigration monitoring, there is simply too much corruption south of the border to allow any Tomas, Ricardo or Geraldo to come across the border. I do think that immigration should be made easier for those who truly wish to work to better themselves. There is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. This is where an idea better than a Green Card needs to come into existence. Make immigration easier for work reasons yet highly monitor those that come across the border. They must be accountable to the Laws of the Land as any other American. If foreign workers wish to benefit from the entitlements in this nation they need to pay the same taxes Americans pay as benefits of citizenship. How much sense does it make for Mexicans to not pay car insurance or taxes for schools and health care? Some of those very benefits are denied to Americans! Particularly the health care issues are gratis to foreigners and not for Americans, this is hugely wrong.

Posted by: Theway2k at April 6, 2006 07:43 PM

Without speaking as to the accuracy of the numbers, 11,000,000 multiplied by $89,000 is actually only $979 billion. Besides, if everyone paid his or her share, the country would not be $8 trillion plus in debt. So if you choose to use this argument, you have effectively refuted your own economic ideas. From a theoretical standpoint, there is very little difference between outsourcing and "insourcing," so maybe it is time for you to re-evaluate your own positions.

"...Come into our country, earn wealth from our economy, and then send that wealth out of our country instead of re-investing it in our economy." That sounds an awful lot like corporate America to me. Maybe we need to start deporting corporations?

The fence you build to keep others out will one day be used to keep you in. Think about it.

Posted by: PACT America at April 6, 2006 08:44 PM