Let me explain the system's priorities on this:
1. Cheap labor
2. A steady tax stream
Actually, you might not be number three. But you definitely aren't number one or two.
Look. I've crossed the Mexican border a few times, I've watched illegals being ferried across the river in broad daylight like they were commuters, literally within a stone's throw of US Customs. The simple fact is that the Mexican border has never been secure, and it isn't going to be. Bob Inglis can buy all the lasers and barbed wire he wants- if the government was ever going to secure the Mexican border, if it ever could, it would have done so sometime in the past 150 years. The border has never stopped anybody but tourists, and sometimes not even them. That's just how it is and how it's going to be, and if Bob doesn't know it he ought to.
But here's one approach that would dramatically cut down on the number of illegal aliens, very quickly and at very little cost:
1. Pass a law mandating hard federal time for anyone convicted of employing an illegal alien.
2. The day the law goes into effect, arrest, chain, and publicly perp walk a handful of rich prominent people for violating it. Put them in orange jumpsuits.
3. Repeat every few years.
Illegal immigration, at least on the present scale, would stop dead in its tracks.
Of course there's essentially no chance of any such plan actually being implemented, but I offer it for your consideration.
In any event, we shouldn't have laws we don't enforce. That having been said, I don't know what the best balance is. On the one hand, I've never been a big fan of political boundaries, and hope they continue to fade. On the other hand, I can understand people not wanting wage competition, and I understand the concern over one's culture being submerged (or at 4% really more like diluted) by illegals. I think diversity is good and I think Mexico is a great country, but if I wanted to live there I would. And I think one aspect of the issue that merits more debate is why Americans aren't streaming across the border to work in Mexico.
And in case you were inclined to listen to anything Republicans say about immigration-
(CNN, 7/26/06) The Bush administration in its first four years was responsible for 318 fines against employers who hired illegal workers, an average of fewer than 80 each year. That's down from 5,587 fines against illegal employers during the eight years of the Clinton administration, according to the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, an average of 698 each year. And the problem is getting worse; in 2004 only three employers received fines for illegal hiring.
Work site arrests have fallen even more drastically under this president. From 1995 to 1998, there were between 10,000 and 18,000 work site arrests of illegal aliens each year. But during the Bush administration, work site arrests fell to just 159 in 2004.
Like I said-
1. Cheap labor
2. A steady tax stream
Get. Used. To. It.
(10/26/07) I found this at a local library, and you know what's wrong with it? It's printed by my government for distribution to the general public in my country and I can't read it. As near as I can tell it's about how to get government money for college, and what I want to know is if you can't read English then just how well do you expect to do in college, and more to the point, why am I paying for it? Because I've been to Mexico, and if there were government forms down there in English trying to give me money for school, I missed them.
Here's another one, and I think it's fair to ask just how much illegals need to know about our water except that it's safe to drink, which fact we might expect they've already noted with some amazement.
Look, I like Mexico. I like Costa Rica. I like Belize and Honduras. If they ever start offering Americans free benefits, maybe I'll move there someday. Though I still won't be drinking the water.
But never mind all that. The point I want to make here is that if the Republicans never did anything about illegal immigration when they were in power, and they didn't, what difference does it make what they say now? None. I can't say with certainty what I would or wouldn't do about illegal immigration, but it wouldn't in any event be less than zero, which is the only other choice.
(1/31/08) Here's a thought. If you think new housing starts are down now, what do you think would happen to the home construction market if we shipped out all the people who are actually building the houses?