Border crossings

Keep Out

Image by timo_w2s via Flickr

Along the southern border with Mexico, there are two signs repeated alternately all along the border. One sign says “Keep Out.” The other sign says “All workers welcome.” As long as we have opposing border policies and differing signs, we will have a problem with illegal (undocumented) aliens coming to the US for a better life for themselves and their families.

Please see Immigration reform | Moral obligation | The undocumented | Snowflake, AZ

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The undocumented

The beach on the Pacific Ocean at the U.S.-Mex...

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Why do the undocumented come to the US from Mexico and points South? For the money of course. If we truly want to slow or stop illegal immigration, we must eliminate the attraction of earning money in the US. Money spent on a southern border fence would be better spent, in my opinion, on undercover INS agents posing as undocumented aliens in sting operations in our larger cities and towns. Stiffer penalties for hiring the undocumented and mandated jail sentences will go a long way toward reducing hiring. With no way to support themselves here in the US, many of the undocumented will return to their homes to the South.

In addition, we should work with Mexico to help their leaders make Mexico a better place for their citizens to live, thereby reducing the need to work in the US. We should make it clear that Mexico and others can no longer export their problems north. Phasing in increased penalties and mandatory jail time here in the US over 5 or 7 years will give the leaders of Mexico and others time to make the needed reforms that will keep the undocumented home, not here in the US. Mexico should enforce progressive taxation, reduce corruption, and with our help, destroy their drug cartels. I think that most citizens of countries south of our border would prefer to live at home if they could support their families and themselves.

Please see Immigration reform

Moral obligation

View of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty Island

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There is no Statue of Liberty on our southern border, but the words engraved on its base still apply:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As long as we invite illegal immigration by our employment practices, then we have a moral obligation to the 15 million or so people who came here to work for a better life. Every time and everywhere there are guest workers in a time of rising unemployment, then there is an increasing sentiment by the citizens of the countries affected to send the temporarily unnecessary workers home. It occurs regularly here and abroad in times of economic stress.

If we as a nation decide we no longer want to accept immigration from the South, then we have the right to shut our southern entrance to further immigration. However, we still have a moral obligation to the undocumented aliens already here. We cannot, as a practical matter, deport them all nor can we punish them with imprisonment. Nor should we consider punishing their children for the sins of the fathers or mothers. Arresting the undocumented and attempting to deport them is extremely traumatic to families trying to survive paycheck to paycheck. The expense and loss of income can destroy everything that they have worked years to save and/or accomplish.

There should be a fitting balance between the crime committed and the punishment we as a society impose. For illegal drugs, we punish the buyer and the seller. The sale of sex is punished mostly on the seller and sometimes the buyer. Stolen property is punished on both the buyer and the seller. If we punish the seller of illegal labor, then we should equally punish the buyer. If the human resource departments and managers of businesses knew that they faced arrest and incarceration in tents in the heat of summer, they would refuse to hire anyone who might be here illegally. If we punish only with a small fine paid by the company, then company employees can escape their responsibility to the workers and to society.