Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

America's Great Wall: With a Few Gaps

Jon Coppelman of WorkCompInsider writes a humorous post on the 700 mile wall our US House of Representatives recently passed by a vote of 283-138. Coppelman does a good job at poking fun on the US House of Representatives foolish wisdom and it's inablility to resolve our illegal immigration crisis. The truth unfortunately is no laughing matter and both Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame.

Perhaps they can forgiven because crisis has been 20 years in the making and no one should expect a speedy resolution. Partisan politics come into play and we should not expect too much from our legislators, especially during an election year when most want to play it safe and are unwilling or unable to risk their political capital. Few legislator look forward to making the difficult choices that will be necessary to actually fix our illegal immigration crisis, so it's easier to have things remain status-quo.

The issue of illegal immigraton is still for the most part a problem that affects someone esle. It is similar to joblessness, homlessness and poverty, they generally are a problem for other people. In my work I come into contact with illegal immigrants daily. I deal with their employers and the insurance companies of the employer. In California illegal immigrants like other parts of the country, they perform the most dangerous and physically demanding jobs and when they are injured the fortunate ones will be provide with medical benefits, recover and move on with their lives. The unfortunate ones have their world turned upside down when they are denied benefits precisely because they are illegal. The court systems have generally ruled in favor of injured workers refusing to make a distinction betwen legal and illegal thus ordering insurance companies and the employers they represent to pay up claims.

The newly adopted tactic against illegal immigrants of denying public services and benefits to illegal immigrants including the prospect of arrest and deportation can be compared to segragation efforts agains blacks prior to the civil rights movement. If the goal is to stem the flood of illegal immigration our efforts would be better served if we focused on cracking down on employers who routinely hire illegal immigrants. At this point Americans have become accustomed to the cheap goods and services that illegal immigrant affords them, even if they don't understand the complicated economic dynamics that result from this uneasy alliance. So the population of illegal immigrants is now 20 years old and we have an estimated 12+ million illegal immigrants who hang in the balance. The failure of our government to work towards resolving this matter will add an additional 800,000+ undocumented immigrants to our population. The irony and madness about creating a fortress at our borders negates the fact that most of unocumented immigrants do not illegally cross our border, but enter this country legally on tourist visas and then simply don't leave. The truth is that it is the poorest of immigrants that attempt and sometimes die trying to illegally cross our borders, those are the ones we read about dying in our deserts.

Our focus on building walls at our borders to resolve our illegal immigration problem will never work. It will never work because we can never actually seal the 1,952 mile border. Any giant 1,952 mile wall faces huge gaps in its structure. One of those gaps would be 75 miles long. The location of that gap is at the Tohono O'odham Nation of Southern Arizona whose majority of land holdings stretch for hundreds of miles along the Arizona and Mexican border. The Tohono O'odham Nation has already indicated that they would legally challenge the building of any wall on their territory. The New York Times reporter Randal C. Archibold wrote a piece "Border Fence Must Skirt Objections from Arizona Tribe" which indicates that the Tohono O'odham Nation indian territory expects to pose legal challenges to any wall on about 75 miles of land they own on the border.

Even if our government was able to overcome the Tohono O'odham Nation legal challenges, who would build that wall? Would we once again tap illegal immigrant labor just like we have done for the rebuilding efforts of Hurricane Katrina.

True Costs or Just Write a Blank Check:

The 700 mile fence would be a public works project with projected costs of $7 Billion US Dollars. If US taxpayers are to foot the bill, I'm left wondering what the final tab will be. Perhaps cost is not an issue and our 700 mile fence is realy a means us to compete with the Great Wall the Chinese built. History has demonstrated to us how effective the Chinese wall has been at stoping invasions and I have no doubt our wall won't be much different.

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