Friday, February 01, 2008

The underlying problem of an unworkable immigration policy for workers. The Fence.

The federal government is preparing to take legal action against landowners along the Mexican border who do not want to give up property for construction of a fence. The underlying problem of an unworkable immigration policy for workers remains unsolved.

More than 100 people who own land along the Mexican border are facing legal action by the Department of Homeland Security because they refuse to negotiate with the federal government for land to build a border fence.Homeland Security wants to build 370 miles of fence and 300 miles of vehicle barriers by the end of the year, which is part of the Bush administration's plan to build 700 miles of fence along the border to stem the inflow of illegal immigrants - mostly Mexicans coming to the United States to work.

The Border Patrol has stepped up patrols and arrests, but most days it is overwhelmed. Government officials have indicated they will use eminent domain to take the property if some settlement can't be reached with the property owners. The deadline for negotiations passed last week, but it appears a last-ditch effort will be made to purchase the property. It seems certain that some of the owners will take their dispute to court. What also seems certain is that nothing will be done to draw up new policies governing the movement of undocumented workers across the border. The U.S. economy is a magnet for poor workers in Mexico and Central America. Menial labor jobs that pay minimum wage here are minor financial windfalls in those countries, and as long as that balance remains in place, workers will try to cross the border. Immigration policy must recognize that fact and provide documentation for non-resident workers. It must also provide a tamper-proof system of registering workers and set up significant penalities for U.S. businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. If those goals are achieved, the need for a border fence will diminish, and the money earmarked for construction could be better used for enforcement and documentation. In this age of international terrorism, border security has become more important than in the past. Physical barriers may stop some from entering the country, but those barriers can be breached, as has been seen in the southwest where police have found tunnels from Mexico into the United States and not wall or fence thru Canada. Used primarily to smuggle drugs, they illustrate the determination of criminals to infiltrate the U.S. market for illicit trade. A comprehensive system of documenting those who want to enter the country to work would free the Border Patrol and law enforcement agencies to concentrate on criminal activity along the border. Building a fence is not the answer to either of those problems

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