OK, illegal immigration from Mexico is what we’re talking about. The reason I know something about this is that I spent several of my college years in Mexico. I now live near the border in Arizona and encounter illegal immigrants regularly on my property. With some Spanish language capability I’m able to converse with those who stop by for water, food and directions. I treat them as guests, returning the hospitality I always enjoyed in my youth while in Mexico. Notwithstanding this I recognize that these people are breaking the law and that for the good of both countries something has to be done about it.
Some Basic Facts
Based on my experience and study here are some facts:
- Illegal Mexican immigrants come here largely to find honest work, not welfare. A rare rotten apple doesn’t change this truth.
- They wish to return to their homes where they have their family, their language and their culture. Contrary to some foes of Mexican immigrants, they don’t overwhelmingly wish to stay forever in the U.S. They are Mexican and proud of it.
- Over 200 Mexicans per year die on the treck over just the Arizona portion of the Arizona-Sonora desert each year. This is shameful.
- Many of these illegals spend between $3,000 and $6,000 for “coyotes,” smugglers to guide them over the border.
- Border enforcement efforts don’t work well. As the border is tightened the “coyotes” are increasingly replaced by drug smugglers, a much more dangerous bunch.
- Further, border enforcement discourages Mexican workers from returning to their homes because they want to avoid another hazardous illegal border crossing.
Essence of the Dispute
The essence of the dispute can be summed up as follows:
Argument A: Mexican immigrants take jobs from American workers, use welfare benefits they don’t deserve, and are responsible for a disproportionate share of the crime rate. Continued illegal immigration dilutes our laws and risks our language and culture. These immigrants are illegal and should be stopped at the border.
Argument B: Mexican immigrants perform jobs such as vegetable and fruit harvesting that American workers won’t do. They are hard working people who pay the taxes due on their work and, because they ultimately return to Mexico, never collect benefits on their social security payments. In short, we need them for economic reasons and need to accommodate them for our own economic benefit.
A Sensible Solution That We Can All Agree Upon
The solution I propose answers the objections of Argument A and provides the benefits of Argument B.
Remember that most illegals pay a significant sum of money to be guided across the border. They save and borrow this from relatives – $3,000 to $6,000 per person. This is enough to purchase a rather hefty amount of insurance or a bond which would serve several purposes:
a) The immigration insurance policy could pay for welfare costs, incarceration, traffic accidents, hospitalizations and any other extraordinary expenses that a Mexican worker would otherwise impose on the public. The premise of this is that the vast majority would never have to draw on this insurance policy.
b) The insurance policy would last for one year, be issued by a private insurance company, and would serve as a legal immigration document. So the U.S. and local governments would not have to build expensive new bureaucracies to make it work.
c) Employers needing workers would very likely be willing and able to sponsor at least some part these insurance policies.
d) A portion of the policy, if unused, could be returned to the worker when he returns to Mexico.
So let’s review what this would do. It would permit Mexican workers to come freely into the U.S. by bus or train rather than walking across and dieing in the desert. Workers would have an added incentive to return to their homes when the work is done. U.S. employers would have a ready supply of willing and capable workers. And the hospitals, law enforcement and welfare agencies would be reimbursed for immigrant-related expenses. The fears of cultural and language dilution should be relieved. And it would take no new bureaucracy. It could instead save money by reducing the vast expenses of the Border Patrol, which could then concentrate on drug smugglers if they wanted to.
It will work. Let’s do it!