Virtually everything I know about immigration I learned at a single session of the Sorensen Institute Political Leaders Program. I know it’s a complex issue, because every approach to it is fraught with non-obvious effects, both short- and long-term, in everything from voting patterns to religion, Social Security to national security.
It only seems obvious that we should control entry to the United States. As a state, we have borders that we use to define the difference between us and them. (My real estate law professor once told my class that the one and only purpose of private property is to prohibit others from using it. It was an excellent point.) This is for reasons of security, sovereignty, and resource allocation, among other things. Frankly, I feel it’s a point so duh that it’s hardly worth explaining.
Given that we need to control entry to our nation, it likewise follows that we have to actually do it. To allow thousands of people to enter the nation without being tallied or reviewed or even noticed is a failure to accomplish that goal.
The fact that we have a particularly large number of people streaming over the Mexican border indicates to me that we need we prevent this from happening. The clearest way of doing this is setting up physical obstacles like fences, such that people can’t simply stroll across the border. We do this at border crossings—there are guards, gates, and inspections. I’m not thrilled at the prospect of 1,989 miles of fence between Mexico and the United States. It’s a terrible symbol, bringing to mind both Israel and Berlin. But the alternative seems to be to continue to have a sort of a borders charade, in which we have strong security at a few points and virtually none at the areas where so many people are crossing.
It’s important to understand that I have no problem with immigrants. In fact, I’m not certain that we have too many immigrants (documented and otherwise) right now, though that’s a different discussion entirely. But it’s important that we be collectively able to have a discussion about how many new residents that we want each year, decide on a number, and be able to enforce it.
The United States has over 100,000 miles of border. We can never secure it fully. I certainly don’t buy the line that strengthening our border with Mexico will keep out terrorists; that’s nonsense. Anybody of moderate means who is determined to get into the United States will surely be able to do so. Putting up fences is no substitute for proper international economic policies, good foreign intelligence, or common sense.
And that’s virtually everything that I know about the problem of people slipping into the United States from Mexico without proper documentation. So I turn to you, Dear Reader—if we shouldn’t erect fences on our southern border, why? And if we don’t, what’s to be done to make our borders less porous, if anything?