As legislators, aided by the media looking for easy “news,” keep the political pots boiling by jumping from one national hysteria to another, the country keeps unraveling. Each national despair enjoys its 15 minutes of fame and then disappears, either leaving no trace or generating a wake of greater problems.
Today’s national tragedy is children being separated from their parents at U.S. borders. Obviously, the practice is inhumane. But what do we get instead of a serious all-partisan effort to hammer out immigration reform and a permanent solution to children, accompanied and not, pouring over our borders? We get photo-op tears and hurling of invectives.
The challenge of people crossing borders without permission is much wider than children being separated from parents. The economic and political repercussions are endless, and the stakeholders benefitting are numerous.
We are talking about the good people crossing the U.S. border without permission from the U.S. government to flee from violence or lack of economic opportunity in their own countries. We are not talking about the criminal elements in gangs or drug cartels.
These folks are not coming in flying first class. They are trekking deserts and wading rivers, more often than not with little else but the clothes on their back. What would be the economic impact to the U.S. of opening the borders to welcome all? In the days when land was plentiful for settlement and jobs that required only a willingness to work were abundant, the economic impact would be beneficial. Today, the U.S. is struggling with its own native born who lack opportunity, skills, and jobs.
* Economies go through demographic transitions. At present, lower-income countries have high birth rates, while higher-income countries like the U.S. have an aging work force. Controlled immigration that focuses on workforce needs would be helpful. Undocumented immigration is not controlled.
* U.S. techies have been issuing this warning for several years: Except for very high-skilled work, robots will do everything, and governments will need to establish “universal income” to support the rest of us. The majority of undocumented immigrants are not highly skilled.
* Undocumented immigrants do work, and do pay taxes. Given their relatively low-wage status, they also receive refunds and child credits.
Stakeholders might not want solutions
* Immigrants, both legal and undocumented, identify with Democrats more than they do with Republicans. Might a constant turmoil surrounding immigration, with Democrats posing on the immigrants’ side help the party’s cause? Immigrants who have obtained U.S. citizenship vote, as do undocumented immigrants in a handful of local elections, such as school board.
* Undocumented immigrants, adults and children, apprehended at border crossings need to be housed. Some housing is provided by the U.S. government. However, most is provided by non-profit organizations and by private contractors. If we dismiss the idea that housing the undocumented is a lucrative business, we are being naïve.
BCFS, a global network of nonprofit groups, has received at least $179 million in federal contracts since 2015 under the government’s so-called unaccompanied alien children program, designed to handle migrant youths who arrive in the country without a parent or other family member. The New York Times 06/21/18
But several large defense contractors and security firms are also building a presence in the system, including General Dynamics, the global aerospace and defense company, and MVM Inc., which until 2008 contracted with the government to supply guards in Iraq. The New York Times, 06/21/18
So What to Do
The first step might be for legislators to get back to earning their pay taking care of the county’s commerce, infrastructure, security and tranquility.
The next step might be for the general public to acknowledge who the stakeholders are, and how the stakeholders aim to keep their powerful and lucrative positions by discouraging solutions to challenges.
Then, laboring under their new found focus and under the sharpened eyes of their constituents, legislators are likely to find give and take, compromises, and solutions.
It Takes Good People to Find Solutions
An iconic figure of our times is Cesar Chavez, who dedicated most of his life to improving the working conditions of migrant field workers. Google “Quotes by Cesar Chavez” and a lot of good advice comes up. Legislators could use a good dose of Cesar Chavez’ non-violent and persistent focus on working things out until solutions are achieved.
Born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, in a Mexican-American family. Died April 23, 1993.
It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. Cesar Chavez