Battlepanda: Our immoral, quixotic Immigration Policy


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Our immoral, quixotic Immigration Policy

Once in a while, what is needed is good old fashioned 60 Minutes-style storytelling. In this case, provided by 60 Minutes -- Their most recent segment on the immigration issues deserve praise for being clear-headed on such a controversial issue.

About six million illegal migrants are now working in the U.S. The meatpacking industry is one of the many that rely on illegal immigrant labor. Seven years ago, the Immigration Service cracked down on illegal migrants in plants in Nebraska and Iowa.

Mark Reed was in charge of the operation.

"What we did is we pulled together the meatpacking industry in the states of Nebraska and Iowa and brought them into Washington and told them that we were not going to allow them to hire any more unauthorized workers. Within 30 days over 3,500 people fled the meatpacking industry in Nebraska," says Reed.

"We proved that the government without doubt had the capacity to deny employment to unauthorized workers," says Reed.

What happened next?

"We were invited to leave Nebraska by the same delegation that invited us in. The bottom line issue was, please leave our state before you ruin our economy," says Reed.

"The reason is that by putting that factory out of business, not only do we put the unauthorized workers out of business, but we’ve put United States citizens out of business and we destroy, we have the potential to destroy, an entire community," says Reed.

Reed says that this illegal work force is "essential" to our economy.

So what are taxpayers getting for the billions of dollars spent on border security?

"Getting a good story," says Reed. But not a secure border.

Spending billion of dollars to keep out workers we can't and won't do without is quixotic. But why do I consider our immigration policy to be immoral?

Agent Neubauer has good reason to be concerned. 60 Minutes took a first-hand look at the paths taken by migrants through the desert this summer when temperatures hovered above 100 degrees for weeks at a time. This year, the Border Patrol has reported a record 464 deaths, but by all accounts the number is much higher because of bodies that haven’t been found.

Dr. Bruce Parks, Tucson’s Medical Examiner, has been on the job for years and says he has never seen anything like this. There are so many bodies, they won’t fit in the vaults in the coroner’s morgue.

When 60 Minutes visited, Dr. Parks had found a place to put an extra 60 bodies, a refrigerated truck that costs his department $1,000 a week.

We can stop the workers easily enough at the workplace. They won't come if they can't work. We do not because businesses complain. Instead, we choose to go through this deadly kabuki dance of keeping them out with a fence and border patrols. Ironically, this policy might have caused more illegal immigrants to end up in the U.S. as the difficulty of passage decided workers to settle in the U.S. with their family rather than travel back and forth. As recently as twelve years ago, no Mexicans perished in the Arizona desert. The borders were more porous, and it was more common for migrants to come for work before returning home. People are dying because they are a convenient political scapegoat for things like low wages and unemployment that has more to do with how this country is governed than with their presence in it.

Brad Plumer's open border proposal
is starting to look better and better. Even Bush's guest worker program would be a vast improvement over what we have now.