The Serious Problems With Our National Borders
Paradoxically, the United States needs to have an open southern border - or at least a semi-open border. The last thing the United States can afford is to have an unstable nation on its flanks, north or south. There are few things the United States can do to maintain or increase the stability of its neighbors, except to provide relief for problems that exist there that cannot be easily solved.
The United States, then, has two conflicting problems. It needs to control who crosses its borders, yet it needs to maintain the stability of its neighbors, which requires almost unlimited immigration. President Bush's guest-worker program may provide some stability, but not enough. An amnesty for illegal immigrants will only encourage more illegal immigration. Leaving the borders unguarded will certainly lead to even greater tragedy and higher costs than this nation is currently experiencing.
There ARE some things the United States can do, but they're expensive. Some of those things are best done by non-government organizations. At the same time, many of the things that need to be done have to be done in other nations, especially Mexico and Canada, and in most of Latin America.
The United States MUST get control of its borders. We are currently at war with an enemy that acknowledges no laws but its own, and who will do anything it can to create problems for this nation. That enemy would willingly cross the borders, either north or south, in its quest to bring death and destruction to Americans. The borders must be patrolled enough to prevent that from happening. Using a civilian force to patrol our borders is no longer either feasible or in America's best interest. It's time to switch to a military border guard armed with combat weapons and using techniques refined in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop completely unauthorized border crossings.
The United States will need to add five combat infantry divisions of three brigade combat teams each to control the borders of the United States. Those combat infantry divisions should be composed of two active brigades and one reserve brigade each, with the option of adding brigade or regimental combat teams from the Army Reserve or Army National Guard. One division would have responsibility for the US/Mexico border from El Paso to Padre Island in Texas, with a headquarters near Del Rio, Texas. The second division would have responsibility for the US/Mexico border from El Paso, Texas, to San Diego, CA/Tijuana, Mexico, with headquarters near Gila Bend, AZ.
The northern border will require three divisions. One of those three divisions would have responsibility for the border from the Pacific ocean to the Montana-North Dakota border, headquartered in Kalispel or Shelby, MT. The second division would have responsibility from the Montana-North Dakota border to the end of the upper peninsula of Michigan, with headquarters in the Bemidji area of MN. The third division would have responsibility from Mackinaw City, Michigan, to Calais, Maine, with headquarters somewhere between Cleveland, OH, and Buffalo, NY. A third independent brigade, headquartered in Fort Richardson, AK, would have responsibility for the Alaska/Canada border.
Each brigade would be equipped with armored vehicles including Bradley fighting vehicles and Stryker vehicles, rapid-response equipment, fire trucks, supply trucks, HumVees, and other supply and transportation equipment, as needed. Each brigade would also include at least three intelligence units equipped with unmanned reconnaissance equipment and the people necessary to support it.
The border would have to be fenced and "militarized" - creating a 100-foot wide clear zone, preferably backed up by a two-lane road, running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific, from the Pacific to the Great Lakes, from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Coast, and from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific (or as close as a road could be built). These roads should ONLY be open to military traffic.
Shutting the border so rigidly would cause a significant economic problem in Latin America. The majority of undocumented immigrantion from this area is in response to economic problems in the home country of these immigrants. Shutting the border totally would cause huge problems in many nations, problems currently being relieved at least temporarily by illegal immigration.
While a blanket amnesty would be very unwise, the concept of a "guest-worker" program would provide an escape valve for pressures in many countries in Latin America. Allowing a certain number of people to come to the United States could keep unrest below a critical threshold in many nations while they work out long-term resolutions to the problem. Undocumented immigration would be significantly reduced, as the incentives would be built into the program for legal entry, and punishment increased for unlawful entry.
Relieving the pressure through a guest-worker program should be only one part of a multi-part program to reduce the stress in these nations. The guest-worker program must be tied to several economic and political changes in the home nation of those workers. Some of the most critical areas that need to be addressed include changes in private property laws, education and training, reducing the dis-incentives to creating new businesses and new jobs, reducing regulatory red tape in intra-state, interstate, and International trade, and reducing the individual and small-business tax burden.
Implementing a guest-worker program itself can be difficult, but not unworkable. Those illegal immigrants currently working would have to prove they've been working for at least a year in their current job in order to keep it. Guest workers would only be allowed to stay in the United States for five years, and there must be a break of at least two years before they could return to the United States as a guest-worker. No person who has been convicted or charged with a violent crime would be allowed in under a guest-worker program.
Guest-workers and potential guest-workers would be issued a special "blue" card, allowing them to apply for work in the United States during a two-month period. If they are not hired within that two months, they must return to their home nation, and apply again. The cost of application should be kept low to allow anyone to apply, but should not be so low that the United States bears the full cost of the application process. In addition to the application and the appropriate fee, the individual would have to provide proof of citizenship and a report from the police in the area where they have lived for the last three years stating the person is not wanted for any crime, or has not committed a crime of violence.
People currently in the United States illegally who have not held the same job for a year, or who are unemployed, would have to go back to their country of origin to apply. Illegal immigrants caught in the United States without a "blue" card (color is arbitrary, and not necessarily what the United States would choose) would be permanently barred from entering the United States, even on a temporary or tourist visa. Any illegal immigrant caught a second time would be sentenced to five years' hard labor, picking up trash along the border fence and keeping the 100-foot zone cleared.
While workers who are in the country legally as guest-workers may be permitted to bring their immediate family (but only after holding the same job for two months), none of their children born in the United States would be automatically granted US citizenship. Any children born to illegal immigrants would be permanently barred from assuming US citizenship. Every guest-worker would be required to learn sufficient English to take care of most of his/her family needs within two years. Failing to learn sufficient English would result in the termination of the guest-worker's "blue" card and returning that person to their home nation. Guest workers legally employed in the United States would be eligible to obtain US drivers' licenses, checking accounts, private retirement accounts, health insurance, and any other benefit available to native workers.
This program won't solve all the problems. The reason so many people want to come to the United States is usually because opportunities are limited in their home nation. The biggest reason such opportunities don't exist at "home" is because the local government doesn't provide the same degree of personal freedom the United States does. Individual freedoms, the right to acquire and keep personal property including real estate, the right to engage in business without unnecessary start-up costs, red tape, and regulation - all these things are required to ensure that people can succeed, regardless of where they live. If their home nations provide these freedoms, the people will be less anxious to go somewhere else. The United States needs to continue to put the pressure on governments to make the necessary changes to their own governments to ensure their citizens these freedoms. Not only will that keep more of their most productive citizens at home, it will improve the wealth and productivity of their nation as a whole.