I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in Reno recently. The place was a mess due to a remodeling which included laying new tile on the main floor. A man who looked to be about 30 and Hispanic was on his hands and knees spreading adhesive prior to laying the next piece of tile. I stopped and said, “It looks good.” He turned from his work, looking up at me with a huge grin and said, “I want to make this good for everyone.” He said it in a way that I believed every syllable, because he clearly believed in what he said to me.
I can’t tell you if he was here legally or not, and I am beginning not to care. America, by its lengthy and callous inaction on immigration policy, has given up the right to criticize anyone who is here illegally. And we will continue to have forfeited the right to be incensed about illegals until we as a nation have a simple, clear and consistent immigration policy, and stop using immigration as a political football.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
Whoa there, Will, have you flipped out and gone open borders on us? No, not for a second. But pause with me for a moment, and look at this man. He is happy working on his hands and knees. He is cheerful, and loves contributing. And more than likely, after a hard day of physical labor, he returns to a modest home and limited circumstances. Yet he greeted me, a stranger, someone who was staying where he was working, with a bright smile while sharing the joy in his contribution. I want more people like that. Don’t you?
The solution to the immigration issue in general and illegal immigration in specific is crystal clear: I have addressed it several times in previous episodes. We could have both secure national borders and a fair and equitable immigration policy–all while taking in more immigrants than we do today. But both political parties have intentionally fumbled their chances to implement the clear, understandable and effective fix.
People come across the Southern border quite easily. If caught, they are sometimes released and re-cross the same day. Visa holders overstay their allotted time with no one checking up. Many employers look the other way because they need a ready supply of workers who are willing to do unattractive work for marginal pay. Certain political groups look away because they know the majority of these people will vote their way, legally or otherwise. Can anyone fault those who sneak across looking for something–anything–better than what they had? These people are crossing a deliberately porous border, drawn by cynically attractive incentives. The employers and politicians have created what is in effect an open border policy, essentially making legal the action of crossing the border without papers–and allowing residency without any further processing. Didn’t all that just make illegal immigration legal?
The elephant in this room is the question of who wants and who does not want open borders. None of the conversations about the effectiveness of physical barriers, breaking up families, amnesty, so-called anchor babies, the cost/benefits of illegal immigration, DACA, etc, make any sense until we understand where we are on the question of open borders. Please don’t get into an immigration discussion with me until you tell me where you stand: are you for or against open borders? We want truth in advertising, how about truth in discussions and disagreements?
Let’s look at the controversy over the effectiveness of border barriers. Of course they can be highly effective; the only question is, “Do you want them to be?” The USSR proved that the Berlin Wall was painfully effective in keeping people, even those desperate for freedom, in East Germany against their will. And Israel built a wall that has all but eliminated suicide bombings by keeping their enemies out. The U.S. can do both of them one better by building a higher-tech barrier, supplemented with electronic listening devices and skilled manpower. The “Walls don’t work.” argument is either born of true ignorance or, more likely, it is a smokescreen for a sub rosa support of open borders. Similarly, none of the other discussions about illegal immigration make any sense until the open border question is asked and answered.Today’s Key Point: America, by its lengthy and callous inaction on immigration policy, has given up the right to criticize anyone who is here illegally. And we will continue to have forfeited the right to be incensed about illegals until we as a nation have a clear and consistent immigration policy.
I don’t want open borders. (But I do want people like the happy tile layer.) No nation can exist for any length of time with unsecure borders. And I don’t want to be the State of America in the United Nations of the World. What I do want is a secure, prosperous, welcoming America; an America that can continue to be attractive to and lead the way for the rest of the world. Here’s how we do that in five easy steps:
- Secure our borders. Stop using the term “wall.” We don’t need a wall everywhere; technology, manpower and natural boundaries can be very effective.
- Insist that employers use E-verify prior to hiring.
- Use technology to track those who overstay their visas; by most accounts most of those who are here illegally have simply overstayed their visas.
- Create a path to citizenship for illegals. Put them behind those who came here legally and followed the time-consuming legal process. And no path to voting; that’s a bridge too far for anyone who snuck in. And give complete relief to the DACA residents. Yes, this is amnesty. But with secure borders–finally–it will be the last amnesty. Repeat amnesty is nothing more than a painful—and dishonest—way of creating open borders.
- Allow in a generous number of legal immigrants every year based on both merit–who we want–and based on need–people who need to be here, regardless of what they can contribute. In round numbers, we are letting in 1M legal immigrants every year–more than any other country on the planet–and about 500K illegals sneak in every year. Perhaps a total of 1.5M immigrants is correct as an annual target, perhaps it should be 2M. And the numbers and percentages are likely to change as our situation and the world changes. Additionally, it seems like an 85%/15% mix of merit, who we want and need, and who needs to be here regardless of merit, AKA asylum, is about right. The exact number of immigrants and percentages are not the key here; they can be altered as our thinking and circumstances change. But the secure border is key. Without that, what we think is right and what is right means nothing.
Let’s do the right thing and implement this immigration reform. Welcome the happy tile layers of the world, and others like him. Allow them to live and contribute here in America without having to hide or in any way be nervous or uncomfortable.
As always, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.