Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A bad answer to a big problem

The Minutemen - LeRoy Neiman, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

A good friend of the mightyblogs, Irish, was the first to point me to this story.

Essentially there will be groups of everyday American Citizens spending upwards of a month at a time, locating and tracking illegal immigrants who cross parts of the Arizona Dessert hundreds at a time each night. These self-professed modern day "Minutemen" claim that their intent is simply to observe, but the fear is that such monitoring can lead to "vigilante attacks".

Minuteman Project founder James Gilchrist described the project as

"a grassroots effort to bring Americans to the defence of their homeland", he says, which is "devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens".

In my opinion, such actions (and reactions) are part of the larger problem in the fact that neither the American or Mexican government is doing enough, actually anything. to stem the flow of illegal immigration. Mexico has even gone as far as creating a "self-help" manual, go guide future illegals in their quest to enter and stay in America illegally. I had an earlier post on this here.

As an American, and the son of an immigrant, I find it hard to believe that the government can not react to such a problem. In 1956, when my mother entered the United States. It was commonplace for people on her boat to be asked such questions as "were you ever convicted of a crime?", "what special skills do you have?", and the ever blasphomous "why are you coming to America?". In addition to these questions, routine medical exams and background checks were conducted. With that said, NO program is foolproof, and make not mistake many former convicts and criminals made it to our shores, but they did so in relatively small numbers, and they at least did so in recorded fashion.

Now, with regards to the Mexican illegal immigration problem, a root for much anxiety (shared my most Americans regardless of ethnic, religous, or political background) is the fact that there is absolutely no control mechanism in place. It is essentially a 'free-flow' of whoever is physically able to cross the border and not have the misfortunre of bumping into a border guard. It is estimated, conservatively that over 1 million illegal immigrants cross our borders from Mexico each year. Some estimate (again conservatively) that over 15 million illegal immigrants reside in the United States. To be fair, by in large most of the illegal immigrants that come to America, do so with noble intentions. They tend to be extremely hard working, dependable and loyal workers. They also come to America because their own homeland has no viable alternative for them. Simply put, the Mexican economy is lacking. Most often, these illegals either cross the border to find work, or watch their families starve and suffer. From a human perspective it is simple enough.

But there are socio-economic impacts as well.

Along with the majority of hard working, religious folk there are increasing number of criminals crossing our border, essentially even being encouraged to do so, so in effect they become America's "problem" and not Mexico's. What has this resulted in? U.S. jails, especially in California, Texas and New Mexico being overrun by Mexican inmates. These illegals, rather then helping the U.S. economy (directly or otherwise) now become a direct burden.

Also, it is estimated that some $15 billion dollars a year is being siphoned from the American economy and sent back to Mexico. It does not take much of an imagination to realize why Vicente Fox and his government are actually encouraging this immigration. Sure the benefit, to many business's, whether large corporations or small business owners, is cheap labor, to which often times they pay no payroll tak on, but at what greater cost to America? Sure, to keep lettuce at $7.00 a head, you may need to pay someone, like an illegal immigrant, half the wages as to what a regular citizen might expect, but when you add in medical, civic and social benefits this illegal also receivs 'gratis', we may in actuality being paying much more then $7.00 a head, in improper use of our tax dollars.

The risk of the journey

Many of these illegal aliens are subjected to unusually harsh working conditions (such as working many longer hours, with lack of food, injury care etc.). There are even many cases where these workers go 'missing'. This does not take into account the journey to America which often includes dangerous treks through hot deserts with insufficient water and food supplies that often result in death, or being packed into train cars like sardines resulting in even more loss of life.

I do believe that a true system in which both the human and economic needs of both countries can both be established that would be safer, less problematic and less threatning to all parties. It's time for the governments to address this issue. Again, no matter how noble the intent might be, having vigilante's addressing this situation is not at all what having a government for is all about.

Posted by mightymerk, 4:01 AM


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