Like everything else controversial in the world there are at least two sides to every story. Since I am going to assume the mantle of investigative reporter I hope you will appreciate that this is not favoring either one of them. Or as Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “the facts ma’am, just the facts.” I could take on plane downings or the current Israel-Palestinian bloodshed but I decided to stay in our own back yard. If we can’t figure this out how are we going to tell the rest of the world what to do?
We have two borders of our for spacious skies, Canada and Mexico. For a country of our size that in itself is quite remarkable. Let’s say the Canucks are very happy to stay in their own home so let’s head south. Depending on who you are talking to this is either the easiest or most difficult entry into the US of A. Let’s assume for the moment that 11-12 million are here illegally and a vast proportion of those came across from Mexico.
Now the good guys and girls come directly through 45 legal crossings with 330 ports of entry. Ports of entry can be airports, seaports etc. and thus the variance in numbers. Sit down for a moment because there are 350,000,000 legal border crossings annually. That’s workers, visitors, shippers whatever by the millions every year.
This southern border from California to Texas is just shy of 2000 miles long. For you easterners that don’t understand distances, San Diego to Seattle is a mere 1500 miles. Maine to the Florida Keys is around 1900. And if you went from San Diego to Chicago on a straight line you are talking the actual distance of 2000 miles. You are all very smart but I just can’t imagine building a humungous fence from the beaches of California to Lake Michigan. Not just a barbed wire one but let’s say about twenty feet high of concrete or steel with lights and sensors.
We tried. Dubya said let’s do just that. They got 600 miles finished at the cost of $1.7 billion or $2.8 million per mile. Just the fence. And the cost of keeping it up over its practical lifespan was an additional $50 billion. Boeing was under contract to put all the goodies in so it was more than an edifice and was so over budget that we dropped that idea. The current immigration bill under some sort of consideration has at its first requirement before further enactment a secure border. How would you and I define that? Are you ready to pay up? Can we ever accomplish it?
The tactic at hand is to actually build these ramparts close to any major metropolitan center of which there are several and man the hell out of them so that any furtive crossings are limited to the boonies. We have travelled to Mexico by car and you ain’t seen boonies till you see these. A combination of mountains, rivers, deserts and all sorts of nasty wildlife far from any road or civilization tells something of the desire of these people to make a better life. We currently have 20,000 agents patrolling and matching wits with the coyotes. The transgressors have paid $5-10,000 per to get led to the promised land. Moses coulda been rich.
For everyone that tries only about a third get through. Apprehensions are around 410,000. This is where it gets interesting. If you are from Mexico you get sent back when caught. Under a law signed by President Bush in 2008 any non border state children under the age 18 have to be detained and receive a hearing before a judge. This was actually put in to discourage and curtail human trafficking. Well the coyotes put this in their sales pitch to parents and they were off to the races so to speak.
Under the law, Health and Human Services has to come in and put the children in the least restrictive setting or they can be sent to family members already here until the hearing occurs. Due process probably requires a lawyer to be assigned. Speedy hearings are not the norm because there are 59 immigration courts of all sorts and they are manned by only 243 judges. Some of these are of dubious talent and work ethic but let’s not muddy the water. Sorry I couldn’t help it. Now divide the above into over 400,000 awaiting hearings and well…you get the picture. The best laid plans of mice and men.
The parents are happy to blow ten grand if it gets the kid out of harm’s way for anywhere from 1-5 years and they will roll the dice from there. Just so you don’t think we are the only Mecca, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and even Mexico have seen immigrants rise up to seven fold.
I bring up all this insanity to try to demonstrate just how difficult one of our many items on the National To Do list is to pull off. There are laws and regs that I hope were fashioned by some relatively decent people. They couldn’t foresee all the ramifications but they are there….and we are stuck with them. I hope the intransigence on both sides is as galling to you as it is to me. Imagine the cahones of Orrin Hatch to say.”there is no real appetite for immigration reform in Congress right now.” Are you really kidding me?
The sales pitch for reelection says we need experienced legislators. I for one say that rookies have an even chance of doing as good a job. Can’t do much worse. Pick one who does not speak with forked tongue and support the hell out of them. Most of all when the lead singer for the glee club from either side gets up before the mikes in DC and chants “we have had enough,” tell them to look in the mirror. They are not the fairest of them all.
Ted The Great
If I didn’t give you enough in the above I am at a loss. But there is actually one. A silver tongued devil I was playing golf with in Arizona some years ago was profound when he said,”Send all them bastards back.” I asked if he meant all 13 million at the time. He said “You are damned right”. When I asked how he would accomplish it he said “Put them in buses”. When I tried to point out that each bus has a maximum capacity of 50 people he opined,”I don’t give s__t, send them all back!” And that’s a fact.