Monday, December 12, 2005

Several days ago, I wrote about how the GOP has decided on a new group to target and raise the ire of their love-to-hate base: illegal immigrants. Last night, "60 Minutes" had a segment on the growing problem of hundreds upon hundreds of illegals being found dead attempting to cross the border, and meanwhile the influx is as bad as it's ever been.

Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo is featured and he plays up the GOP stance, stating MUCH more needs to be done. He believes the federal government should fund the construction of a wall sealing off the entire Mexican-U.S. border. "If you only put the fence for this five miles of border, people will go around it, naturally. You have to secure your borders!" says Rep. Tancredo. When asked how much should the deficit-strapped government pay, he replies "Whatever it takes. Billions more. Billions more. ...It is our job. It is what the federal government should be doing!"

Note that Tancredo mentions only the Mexican border -- not that other one, the Canadian border. How does this look that he wishes to completely seal off the Mexican border but not the other? Forget the fact that many, many more illegal immigrants come from Mexico as opposed to Canada, that's not the point here. As a government policy and to maintain consistency in relations between both neighboring countries, I don't see how we can send the overt signal to one by spending the many billions to build a 2,000 mile wall and yet leave the other more/less completely open. So we'll tolerate any illegals that happen to come through from the north (Canada) but no way are we going to accept one more person that sneaks through from the south (Mexico)....

Oh, and what about the red-herring the GOP trumps up about potential terrorists coming through our unsecured borders? University of California’s Wayne Cornelius, a national authority on immigration, is quoted on the program saying, "They [terrorists] don’t need to come in that way. They can purchase the best forged documents in the world. The real danger is that they will come through our legal ports of entry with valid visas, just like the 9/11 terrorists did."

Even still, if the GOP wanted to make a more credible case for blocking entry of terrorists at our borders, they should endorse the wall-building for both borders. If a wall is built on the Mexican border and yet not the Canadian, why wouldn't terrorists simply then opt to enter the U.S. via the Canadian border? By emphasizing closure of the Mexican border strictly, it reveals their true aim and target. It's not potential terrorists or even just any illegal immigrants but more specifically those dang illegal Mexicans.

The program points out some obvious truisms about the entire illegal immigrant problem, a biggie being that by far the number one reason Mexicans risk their lives to cross the border is simply to get a job. If employment didn't await them in the U.S. then they'd have little incentive to come here. So why don't we blame the companies who hire them and punish these entities?

For one, it's easier and smarter politically to punish and target those who are Mexican and than that which is American. But also the fact is can we afford to clamp down on these companies? The dirty secret is these companies hire illegal immigrants because all too often they can't find Americans who want such jobs. And most often these jobs are anything but glamorous, and yet they're crucial to the lifeblood of this country -- whether it be providing for cheap and plentiful produce, or cooking fast food, cleaning up restaurants and hotel rooms, toiling at residential construction, meat-packing work, etc. They provide the willing supply for jobs that would otherwise go unfilled, thus keeping wages down and in turn the cost of goods to the U.S. consumer low.

But go ahead oh wise GOP, continue to target these folks. No one ever accused you of thinking things through, so why start now. And besides, your whole motivation is to simply stoke emotional flames to win over votes -- not to legislate from an area of expertise and reason that will actually solve problems.

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