Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Wall

Much has been said and written about the need, or not, for a wall along our southern border.

Immigration reforms were undertaken in 1965 , 1986 and were attempted again in 2007 .

The political right was persuaded in 1986 to enact reforms, which included amnesty, in exchange for an employer based status verification regime and enhanced border security. There "... was the enforcement bit. The law aimed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border against illegal crossings with new surveillance technology and a bigger staff."

The status verification system was, to put it politely, a sham.

"Under the final law, all employers had to do to avoid sanctions was to make sure their workers had paperwork that "reasonably appears on its face to be genuine." If the documents were decent fakes, that wasn't the boss's problem. In fact, employers were actually penalized if they scrutinized a worker's nationality too aggressively."

In 1986 I was CEO of a manufacturing business in Houston, TX. We had as many as 100 factory floor employees at peak times of the year. Most were illegals. The system was such a farce that I don't even remember it being more than an occasional topic of conversation at management meetings. No one came looking for anything. We changed  our hiring package to ensure we had proper "documentation" on new hires. We checked the files of existing employees to see whether additional information was required. If so, it was always readily provided.

I often read that the reason employers employ illegals is that they are willing to accept lesser pay and benefits. That may be true of some but I can safely say that it was certainly not the case for us. It was just how things had developed in the 20 years or so the company was in  business before I was hired to run it. In fact, we never advertised for factory workers. When the need arose our factory managers just told their workers we needed more people and they showed up. Wages were standard for the area and every employee had company paid medical insurance.

As is obvious the increased presence and border surveillance never happened.

That brings us to 2007 when John McCain and friends announced that a new deal had been reached behind closed doors. What little we were told about the legislation made it clear that it was going to be amnesty first, enforcement second, again. McCain declared that it would be voted on and passed within 48 hours. The right erupted and the legislation was killed.

Those of us who were around in 1986 refused to go along with amnesty first and enforcement second. We had already seen that the enforcement never arrived and we were certain the same would be true this time.

We have focused on the wall as an essential element of enforcement ever since. Enduring the barrage of insults hurled our way over the last 10 years stoically.

Now it is 2017. We elected a President who promised to build the wall. There has been no significant progress made. Funds were dropped from the continuing resolution recently approved. He said it was too difficult to do now and we will get back to it in September, in the next budget.

A funny thing has happened on the way to the wall , illegal immigration has plummeted since President Trump's election.

"Illegal immigration across the southwest border is down more than 60 percent so far under President Trump, officials revealed Tuesday, even before the first new agent is hired or the first mile of his promised border wall is constructed."

Like many, I do not like the idea of a wall but considered it a necessity if the flood of illegals was to be stopped. It looks as though the mere enforcement of laws on the books already has had an enormous influence on illegals. Maybe we don't need a wall after all.

Wishful thinking, unfortunately. As much as I hate to think about it Trump will only be President for 8 years. His successor, Democrat or Republican can, and probably will, back off enforcement again. It will be much less likely that such a stand down will have much of an effect if the wall is in place. So, in my reluctant opinion, it must be built.

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