Sunday, June 15, 2014


[Senator Lindsey] Graham said he believes that nationally, Republicans will accept an "earned pathway to citizenship if you secure the border" and that the GOP should stop allowing 35 percent of voters dictate how the party should engage on the issue.
GOP chairman, senator at odds on how to reach Hispanic voters
In my not particularly humble opinion, anyone who says that "securing the border" needs to be part of any comprehensive overhaul of immigration into the United States is either woefully uninformed or laughably unserious. While I understand the concern, it's simply not a workable strategy.

Look at it this way. What "securing the border" tends to mean, when you ask people about it, is effectively turning Mexico and points south into a vast prison. Note that prisons do allow for the flow of people and goods in and out - what makes a prison a prison isn't the fact that you can't leave - it's the fact that you can only leave with the permission of certain authorities. The late and unlamented (here in the United States, anyway) Soviet Union attempted to create a vast prison for its many people, and was not shy about spending the resources it took to do so. They still wound up with a border that could be crossed without permission. It was difficult, and it was dangerous, but it was doable. North Korea is the same way. It's neither simple nor safe to get out of there, but it's possible - and much of what makes it difficult is it's hard to recruit allies when you don't know who might turn you in.

People attempting to cross the border from Latin America into the United States don't have this problem. Mexico is not invested in the idea of locking all of it's citizens in. And while the American government and certain political groups are invested in locking people out - there are enough people who aren't invested in that to scuttle the whole project.

"Why do people from Latin America cross the border" is not the same as "Why did the chicken cross the road." Simply getting to the other side isn't the point. Improving their lives is the point, and it's fairly clear that there's a lot of improvement to be had. When the United States plunged into "the Great Recession" many migrants went elsewhere looking for opportunities. That should be a clue. The reason it isn't is that while Republicans make noises about wanting to "protect American jobs" they want to protect American businesses more. And many of those businesses rely on the ability to access (very) inexpensive labor to keep costs down.

Although there is a lot of opposition to current Civil Asset Forfeiture laws in the United States (you know that you're onto something when both the Institute for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union think something's a bad law), they strike me as a way to quickly and effectively deal with the issue of illegal immigration into the country. No, the plan isn't that we'd go around confiscating whatever assets that people in the country illegally had. Instead, we'd simply allow for 18 U.S. Code § 981 to be invoked when a business or individual is found to be employing people who are not authorized to work in the United States. And we'll start with the the big companies. Jobs for people who couldn't prove that they were in the country legally would dry up overnight, either immediately after the law was passed, or after the first one or two reasonably large corporations to be busted were broken up and auctioned of by the Department of Justice. And since merely the suspicion of criminal activity is enough to allow for asset seizure...

I am, up to a point, being facetious. But only up to a point. Because if we REALLY only want people coming into the country once we've formally decided that they are to be allowed in, something has to be done about the incentives. And right now, everyone is ignoring that reality. Which leads me to believe that limiting immigration really isn't taken seriously. Or, at least, no more seriously than I should take the idea of placing half the hemisphere on lockdown.

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