The NW Progressive Institute has the real answer to illegal immigration, now at 3 million per year: develop the Mexican economy and educational system. Not only would this keep Mexican workers at home, it eventually creates new markets for our exports. The important beginning is to let them produce their own food and other items profitably and let wages rise down south as the economy and infrastructure develops.
American exports of corn have tripled, while real prices of corn in Mexico have fallen 70% since 1994! This has affected 15 million Mexican farm families.
The advantages to this approach are numerous, beginning with the avoidance of silly spending on low-wage soldiers running around in the desert trying to catch an evil tide of Jack-in-the-Box counter clerks. If the same dollars were spent on schools, it would give the carpenters among those counter clerks work on that side of the border. Second, and more importantly, it would generate human capital there. And both sooner and later it would generate well-being, a truly indigenous economy, and even real demand for US goods.
Non-answers to the immigration problem begin with those of Charles Krauthammer, which include erecting a wall along the entire border and in one motion legalizing those inside the country and slamming a miracle door that keeps everybody else out. This goofiness follows directly after Krauthammer lampoons Bush for thinking he can close the border with a military style action. And of course, there is no shortage of liberal straw men in Krauthammer's analysis.
In fact, liberals like Thom Hartmann have made the case that illegal immigration is a favor to Corporate America because it depresses the price of labor by increasing its supply. He and others have correctly pointed out that if employers of illegals were jailed for hiring them, the flow would be stanched quicker than any size electric fence could accomplish. (Notably, Krauthammer fails to mention this central alternative to the Berlin Wall of the South.)
But the real answer, the economic answer is to provide development support for the populations where they currently reside: Basic investment in roads, utilities and education, not subsidies to factories on the edge of town, whose only mission is to exploit cheap labor before it has to cross the border.
Lock them out! Deport them! It is an immigration problem!
In fact, it is an economic problem, a trade problem. To a very real extent, people flood into the US because the economies of their native countries have been decimated by a trade regime instituted by the US. The agriculture that has been the backbones of many of their economies and provided the framework for their societies has been wiped out by cheap American imports.
The point is often made that menials can earn four times the wage here in the United States that they can in Mexico. First, Four times nothing is still not a living wage. Second, People only need self-determination and a chance for survival, not big bucks, and it is these minimum conditions that are becoming scarce.
Since the 1970s the economies of the developed and newly industrial countries have increased steadily, if in some cases not spectacularly. Economies of underdeveloped countries have contracted by one-third. It is not material extravagance these folks are rushing into when they come across the border, it is want they are fleeing. All for the benefit of the industrial farm that has already wiped out the family farm here at home.
Please recommend so we can start up the Echo Chamber on this way to frame the solution. Even Lou Dobbs never mentions this! Let's start with an e-mail campaign to Dobbbs and all the Cable news that this is the REAL ANSWER.
The development must be progressive and sustainable. Regenerate the ability of the land to grow, cut off the agribusiness cheaper food supply as the land regenerates and farming comes back in central and southern Mexico and regenerate the economy and the culture. Mexicans don't WANT to leave their homes. If they could eat and prosper down there, they would stay at home and not come over the border in droves.
Progressive candidates must start speaking the truth on the illegal immigration issue or risk not taking the House and Senate back in November, as Busby proved.
Update [2006-6-8 12:18:40 by RegenerationMan]: Serrano writes:
Early in the now-disappointing Fox Presidency, I met w/Juan Hernandez, then his righthand man and former campaign manager, who lived a fair amount of his life in Fort Worth. We had preliminary discussions about such a framework of cooperation.
To make this even more effective in stemming migration, he indicated that they had already identified a list of 90 "micro-regions" from which the vast majority of migrants had emanated. This simultaneously highlighted the areas where need was apparently the greatest, and the areas that spawned migration. Unfortunately, as with much of the original hope and promise of the Fox era, not much was ever done w/this plan.
IMHO, however, it remains a good idea, and, if anything, is much urgent and thus might be more willingly embraced on both sides of the border.
The idea of regional development in the micro-regions where most of the illegals are coming from is perhaps the most important concept here. That makes this whole thing practical and understandable to the voters and maybe even liberal Dem politicians.
Regeneration works by a regional development plan that emphasizes first food self-sufficiency and then moves on from there. (invented by Robert Rodale in the 1980s)