Twice in the past week President Donald Trump has promised that we are going to build the wall along our southern border. Twice, he has played to the balcony for approval but has avoided the reality that the proposed wall is a boondoggle. The wall will cost billions but won’t solve our illegal immigration problem.
Much of the public discussion on illegal immigration is focused on our southern border and the constant flow of Central American nationals across our border into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. This is a stretch of geography that extends more than 1,500 miles across desert and mountains that is almost impossible to patrol much less control. Millions of dollars have already been spent building a fence and quadrupling the number of border patrols. Knowledgeable people tell us that a complete closing of that vulnerable border will have little effect.
The Rio Grande and the rest of our Southern border can be likened to the military defense line created by France after WWI to protect them from Germany. When Adolf Hitler invaded France at the beginning of WWII, his tanks simply choose a different route, rolled down the superhighway and were in Paris in 30 days. No wall in history has ever had much success keeping people out and that includes Hadrian’s Wall in England, the Berlin Wall in Germany, and the Great Wall of China. Some smart person said, “No 10-foot fence will ever defeat an 11-foot ladder.”
We can close our southern border but we have other borders to the East, West, and North. They are far more extensive and difficult to control than the one between the U.S. and Mexico. Anyone who has ever fished the coasts of the southeast or southwest U.S. knows the impossibility of patrolling and/or controlling the many inlets and swamp areas along our eastern and western borders. Our northern border with Canada is worse yet. It is the longest unenforced border in the world. One can easily fly into Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and hire a taxi for a $20 taxi ride out along the border highway. At some point they can leave the taxi and walk south for 20 minutes and be in the United States. So much for border security.
In short, if the illegal immigrants want to come, we can’t stop them. To solve the problem we have to make them not want to come. That key is in the answer to one question, “What motivates illegal immigrants to violate our laws to come to The U.S.?” The answer is obvious. It is the U.S. economy that provides work, money, and the best standard of living in the world. Immigrants, legal or illegal, are attracted to the wealth, opportunity, and hope that is the American Dream.
Where should we start to control the flow of illegal immigrants? Start with the
businesses and industries that are the source of the jobs and opportunity. We should increase our vigilance regarding who is employed and who the employers are who are complicit in the violation of our laws. Violators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Just a portion of the money we are planning to spend on the wall should be used to beef up the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They are responsible to track the more than 70 million visitors who come to the U.S. from other countries each year. A full 40 percent of those currently in the U.S. illegally came into the country with a visitor’s visa and just stayed. At present, the INS does not have the mechanism nor the manpower to keep track of those who come to visit.
The sooner we get focused on what is attracting illegal immigrants, the sooner we can get a handle on this problem. Folks, the key issue isn’t our borders, it is enforcing our laws in the workplace.
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states. Books by Hopkins currently available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble include “Journey to Gettysburg” and “The Wounds of War,” both Civil War-era novels, and “The World As It Was When Jesus Came.” Contact him at email@example.com.