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Keeping the man down... er out.
February 25, 2006 10:27 PM   Subscribe

US Border Patrol attempts to build a wall between Mexico and the US. Coyotes are not worried Mexico is already coming up with plans around it and the Americans are already coming up with a way to not pay for it.
posted by subaruwrx (42 comments total)

 
I am so disappointed/embarassed by my country's siege/bunker mentality.
Some day, someone, is going to have to say, America tear down this wall.
posted by hortense at 11:05 PM on February 25, 2006


ah, we'll just build one along the northern boarder as well, turn the country into a giant prison. There will be 3 types of people in America. Prisoners, Guards and Wardens
posted by edgeways at 11:59 PM on February 25, 2006


This whole problem could be solved much more efficiently if Mexico (starting with Fox) would do something towards putting its economy in at least half-working order.
posted by shoos at 12:03 AM on February 26, 2006


The obvious solution is to pay the mexicans to build it.




Seriously though, the current situation is retarded. We either need to build a wall or do whatever it takes to shut down the border or we need to LEGALIZE the immigration. Any other solution is burying our heads in the sand.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:06 AM on February 26, 2006


I would like to add my voice to shoos' chorus, and lay blame directly in the lap of the country not building this wall.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 12:10 AM on February 26, 2006


Seriously though, the current situation is retarded. We either need to build a wall or do whatever it takes to shut down the border or we need to LEGALIZE the immigration. Any other solution is burying our heads in the sand.

Well we do have legal immigration, in fact it's much easier to get into the US from any country then to most places in Europe.

That said, My feeling is that while the illegal immigrant situation has it's problems, it's mostly benign (unless you just hate Mexicans) and it would actually better to keep the current situation then to build a wall or actually enforce the laws.

Building the wall is offensive and expensive, and making it legal for Mexicans to enter the country and work would be, well, "difficult" to pass politically.

Even if the bridge does end up costing $4 billion or so, it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the actual economic damages caused by keeping Mexicans out.

It really amazes me how people who believe we should enforce our borders seem to have no idea how much actual economic damage that would case, far, far beyond the actual cost to enforce (which is a lot)
posted by delmoi at 12:16 AM on February 26, 2006


I'm confused. Which Americans? The ones north of the boder or south of the boder?
posted by lazymonster at 12:18 AM on February 26, 2006


delmoi, the topic of the economic effects of illegal immigration are very interesting to me. I'm wondering on what source(s) of information you base your claim that increasing enforcement of laws on immigration would be harmful to the US economy.
posted by shoos at 12:31 AM on February 26, 2006


American "demographic exceptionalism". We're the only developed country with a projected birth rate that will not fall to "sub-replacement" levels anytime soon. This may explain why there is continued resistance to high rates of immigration, whereas other countries are facing the very opposite problem -- not just native indifference, but problems attracting needed immigrants.
posted by dhartung at 12:53 AM on February 26, 2006


shoos: I can't quote any stats (delmoi?), but a helluva lot of American companies depend on illegal immigrants. From farms to the people fixing roofs in New Orleans right now. If the flow of illegal immigrant workers stopped suddenly, our economy would certainly suffer because a huge chunk of the work force would be gone.

Not saying we should keep things the way they are. Mexican illegals end up working jobs without legal protections (workplace safety, minimum wage, etc) which makes them very attractive to bosses. The bosses hire them instead of American citizens who have those protections. Sucks for illegals because they work in unsafe, insecure positions. Sucks for the American worker because he ain't... you know... working.

Real reform is needed. Not a wall.
posted by brundlefly at 1:47 AM on February 26, 2006


brundlefly, the contribution of cheap labor to American companies is but one aspect of the question. Certainly, any company would benefit if its labor were significantly cheaper than its competitors'. I take that as given. But what about the other aspects, such as the taxes paid (or not) by illegal workers versus increased demand for social services; resultant changes in the employability of American citizens, permanent residents and legal immigrants; inability of illegal workers to unionize; increases in dependency on cheap labor at the expense of innovation or improved efficiency; a possible widening of the gulf between wealthy employers and the employed poor; the effects on education?
posted by shoos at 2:21 AM on February 26, 2006


"So long as there are jobs and there is a demand for labor and we are not serious about cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, people will seek to come in," Echaveste said.

Here's one with a clue. Mexicans are good for economy because they are dirt cheap to hire when compared to americans. Also if they come in illegally they may be subject to indentured servitude ..what are they going to do, report to police ?

Obviously there are other aspects to the presence of mexicans/other nationalities in a country , like :

Mexican immigrants and nationals working in the U.S. sent $20 billion back to Mexico in 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas. The proposed ballot question would assess a new 8 percent tax on international money transfers from Arizona.

That money would be significant if it was used to buy US goods, because US trade deficit doesn't look good, but why should they if they can buy less expensive chinese goods ?

Legalized temporary work permit with taxation/health care pre-paid by employer seems more reasonable, provided that americans aren't being fired because of that and that the job has been offered at the same rate on public unemployement job offers.
posted by elpapacito at 5:31 AM on February 26, 2006


shoos: I should have been more clear. You are right in that the issue is certainly multifaceted. However, I would argue that the labor of illegal immigrants is such a major part of the American economy that its loss would be catastrophic in the short term. For instance, if the border were effectively sealed and we lost that labor pool, there wouldn't be an immediate corresponding increase in taxes collected from newly employed American citizens. Businesses would be destroyed.
posted by brundlefly at 5:34 AM on February 26, 2006


Poor businesses.
posted by melt away at 6:44 AM on February 26, 2006


Mexico is a functioning democracy for the first time in 90 years. Better make sure none of that leaks into the USA.
posted by Ptrin at 7:06 AM on February 26, 2006


It's not going to get through the Senate anyway.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:13 AM on February 26, 2006


The obvious solution is to pay the mexicans to build it.

Of course, they should specifically use illegal immigrant Mexicans for the most effect.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2006


We just need to buy Mexico. That way when people try to cross the border...
"where your going?"
"The United States!"
"You are in the United States."
(or so says Dennis Miller)
posted by tomplus2 at 8:18 AM on February 26, 2006


Some day, someone, is going to have to say, America tear down this wall.

One of the saddest things I have ever read, I think.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:36 AM on February 26, 2006


Some day, someone, is going to have to say, America tear down this wall.

Kind of slimy rhetoric, really. The Berlin wall was about keeping citizens in, not immigrants out. Nobody was trying to break into East Berlin.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:22 AM on February 26, 2006


The cops, Judge Lawrence Cullen determined, tried to stuff one worker into a trash can. They shouted that "immigration" was outside if the workers left, and threatened to make sure anyone who tried would be deported. Then, when some of the workers forced their way out anyway, the cops beat a couple of them up. And of course, those "bad employees" who left were fired--illegally, since they were "engaging in protected concerted activities," the judge said.
posted by Huplescat at 9:29 AM on February 26, 2006


This whole idea is ridiculous. No matter what you build along the border, people will find a way around, over, through, or under it.

I just moved to Arizona a few months ago and the whole illegal immigrant issue is very strange. There are people who are liberal on just about everything else do a complete 180 when it comes to the immigration issue.

If you want to deal with the problem (and yes it is a problem for various reasons) you deal with the causes. You do something to help Mexico get its economy working right. You crack down on businesses here who hire illegal immigrants. You hammer the wealthy suburbanites who decry illegal immigrants but hire undocumented Mexicans to clean their houses and mow their lawns. You make it impossible for businesses to treat their workers like shit, so that they don't have the economic incentive to hire cheap, illegal labor.

Or, you know, you spend millions and millions of dollars on a meaningless symbol. Whatever floats your boat.
posted by papakwanz at 9:56 AM on February 26, 2006


[fixed typo, removed "HURF DURF TYPOO!" comments]
posted by jessamyn at 12:00 PM on February 26, 2006


We have a system that encourages illegal immigration because powerful constituencies want it that way. Big agribusiness wants cheap foreign labor, and may actually prefer illegal labor due to its greater malleability. But the Republican base hates illegal immigration, so we have laws against it to placate them. Then the administration makes sure that law enforcement has nothing like the resources need to enforce those laws. The costs of illegal immigration, in social services and the like, fall on the states and counties as another unfunded mandate. And the illegals themselves suffer from their strange status--cashing their paychecks at liquor stores because they can't open a bank account, driving without a license or insurance, afraid to report crimes to the police, unable to invest back into the community by buying property.

Just let them in. In two generations they will be monolingual English speakers living in the suburbs and driving SUVs. We'll be a stronger country for it.
posted by LarryC at 12:20 PM on February 26, 2006


The current situation clearly isn't sustainable. And aren't there plenty of out-of-work New Orleanians who would love to be working reconstruction right now, but they can't because employers are bringing in the cheapeast labor they can find - illegal immigrants.

Something about that doesn't seem right to me. It seems if you play by the rules in this country, you tend to get shafted. People say "oh Americans won't do those jobs for those wages", but if you enforce the labor laws and require at least minimum wage, some people will work for that - they do it every day.

I simply think it is valid for a country to decide who gets to cross its borders. It's basic sovereignty! We have limited public health funds, education funds, etc, and these should go to citizens first, because a nation basically exists for the welfare of its citizens, imho.

If Mexico isn't giving them the life they want, why don't they try to change things there? Is the money they send back being used for economic development back home - making the communities more self-supporting, better education for the kids, etc? Or is it just being used to buy crap?

I dunno. I just don't have this idea that any other country owes me a living. And I don't like conditions that contribute the exploitation of labor, which is what the current system does. Bleagh.
posted by beth at 12:39 PM on February 26, 2006


we pretend to believe the earth is round but continue to behave as if it is flat. sad state affair Carlin was interviewed in the March/April 1997 issue of Mother Jones. He said, "The two big mistakes were the belief in a sky god -- that there's a man in the sky with 10 things he doesn't want you to do and you'll burn for a long time if you do them -- and private property, which I think is at the core of our failure as a species. That's the source of my indignations, my dissatisfactions, however it comes out on stage. I feel betrayed by the people I'm part of, these creatures, these magnificent creatures."
posted by hortense at 1:03 PM on February 26, 2006


I'm surprised Bush hasn't declared a "War on Immigration" TM. Because when America declares war on abstractions, we always win.

It amazes me that educated people don't understand the basics of supply and demand. America has a raging desire for cocaine and marijuana, and we, as a country, act all suprised when it shows up here by the kilo. Same thing with underpaid labor. Sleazy contractors pay pennies to illegals, don't have to treat them well, don't have to give them any healthcare, and most importantly, don't have to pay payroll taxes for them (the idea that we aren't getting tax revenue from the illegals? Bullshit. It's the contractors and agribusiness plantations that are making the real killing on avoiding the IRS). Blame the appropriate parties, at least.

Racism and economic ignorance made this situation, and doesn't allow for an expedient solution. No one on either side of the political aisle has the guts to analyze and solve this situation in the best manner, i.e., legalize it.
posted by bardic at 1:26 PM on February 26, 2006


My feeling is that while the illegal immigrant situation has it's problems, it's mostly benign (unless you just hate Mexicans) and it would actually better to keep the current situation then to build a wall or actually enforce the laws.

This seems to be the typical liberal attitude on the current situation, but I think it's formulated not from careful examination of the problem but rather as a reaction to perceived racism on the part of those who would keep immigrants out. While there is undeniably an element of racism amongst many of those calling for crackdown on illegal immigrantion, it is possible to support the immigrants while simultaneously demanding improved immigration control, including building this fence.

There is now a river of migrants flowing across the Arizona-Mexico border. This is not an exaggeration. According to this Tucson Weekly article, the Border Patrol estimates somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million illegals crossed the border successfully in 2004--an average of almost 3,000 every 24 hours, just in the Tuscson sector alone. This wave of humanity is no benign situation, it's a very dangerous one for a great many people, including those living in communities on both sides of the border and the immigrants themselves.

The article I linked to above does an excellent job in describing the degradation of the quality of life in the border communities. These are not angry Minutemen-types who are suffering, but rather Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who must deal with armed and dangerous men who traffick in both people and drugs.

"With [the immigrants] comes a post office wall full of bad guys allied with the movement of people and drugs north--enforcers, cutthroat coyotes, gang bosses, gang soldiers and on and on. Ordinary Mexicans, those not involved in the trade, don't like seeing these people filling their streets, the smugglers or their charges. They view the latter just as many Southern Arizonans do--as invaders."

Victims of the illegal exodus also include American ranchers who are overwhelmed by armed coyotes, drug dealers and immigrants flooding across their property, leaving behind tons of garbage and swaths of destroyed property. But most at risk are the immigrants themselves who generally are not criminals but simply men and women seeking better opportunity. Crossing the desert is a perilous experience often made worse by coyotes and others who prey on these unfortunate people in the lawless and ungoverned terrain.

The fact that the US economy is dependent on immigrant laborers cannot be ignored and simply sealing the borders is not a solution, but the nation has a duty to protect its citizens and its borders. A system must be put in place that ensures the safety of the border communities, defends the property and rights of the ranchers, and still allows and protects the very necessary labor force that comes across it.

I'm not sure what this reformed immigration system would look like, but it would likely be based on temporary work visas. In order to make it work, it would mean funneling immigrants through approved border crossing stations and building a fence to keep make the legal option the easier one.
posted by soiled cowboy at 2:35 PM on February 26, 2006


Hrm. Then we might as well legalize the assault weapons and drugs that are also flowing across the border.

You didn't think the wall was just to try to keep *people* out, did you? The vast majority of the fully automatic weapons used in drug related crimes sure as hell didn't come from the United States.
But then again, when some people see that 2 tons of pot was confiscated, they start their cries of "legalize the weed!" - so who knows what the agenda really is.

"Just let them in. In two generations they will be monolingual English speakers living in the suburbs and driving SUVs. We'll be a stronger country for it"

Yeah, that worked with the last round of amnesty. *snort*
posted by drstein at 2:50 PM on February 26, 2006


The coyotes (human traffic dealers) exist precisely because of America's outdated and unrealistic laws. Legalize and/or reform immigration laws to make them compatable with an insatiable demand from corrupt contractors and mega-farm owners, and the coyotes raison d'etre disappears. If the illegals could cross over in the light of day, on public roads and not private lands, and without the thuggish coyotes, many of the quality of life issues would disappear.

Again, the parallels to the drug trade are unavoidable. The problem for most Americans is not the drug use itself, but the associated crime--shootings and violence associated with the trade, not the usage. Legalize and/or re-examine the problem as a demand-side one, not a supply-side (demand always comes first) and many of the problems go away. But politicians are cowards, and too afraid to confront mythology with fact.
posted by bardic at 2:57 PM on February 26, 2006


drstein, have you ever driven through the burbs around Los Angeles and San Diego? I'd say LarryC is spot-on, except for the fact that second-generation hispanics are more often bilingual rather than monolingual.

And I'd love to see some figures about automatic guns coming in through Mexico--it's easy enough to get a semi-auto handgun or rifle in America as it is. Fear-monger much?
posted by bardic at 2:59 PM on February 26, 2006


I'm not sure what this reformed immigration system would look like, but it would likely be based on temporary work visas.

I hate that idea. Hate it hate it hate it. The US ought not have any work visas, only legal residence that's not tied to any particular firm and with an offer of citizenship after N years. The US shouldn't want "guest workers;" it should want immigrants.

Yeah, that worked with the last round of amnesty. *snort*

Unless human life cycles have become rather more rapid while I wasn't looking, that last round of amnesty was rather less than two generations ago.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:12 PM on February 26, 2006


The US ought not have any work visas, only legal residence that's not tied to any particular firm and with an offer of citizenship after N years. The US shouldn't want "guest workers;" it should want immigrants.

Many illegal immigrants don't want to be permanent residents. They only want to work and return home with their wages.

What specifically is your problem with guest workers?
posted by soiled cowboy at 3:22 PM on February 26, 2006


I've lived in San Diego and LA all my life... and without the illegal immigrants who come over the border to work the factories and other manual labor, Southern California would shut down.

Most work very hard for the pay they can get and try to get by with everything stacked against them. As a generality, they don't blame society for their problems, take out huge amounts of credit card debt or have a sense of entitlement.

In fact, they're much like most first-generation immigrants to this country throughout its history... hard working, outcast, feared and hated.

Look at the Irish, the Italians and the Germans. If only most "real" Americans would be as hardworking and lose their sense of entitlement...

But fear lives strong today. Hey, why don't we bring back the Alien and Sedition Acts and why not some relocation camps to go with the current xenophobia?
posted by AspectRatio at 3:26 PM on February 26, 2006


Okay, I'm preparing to be flamed, but I think the wall is a good idea (if only it weren't so expensive.) I am all for immigration...but LEGAL immigration. I don't believe in "illegal immigrant amnesty" or any of that crap. You need to abide by the country's rules, and the first rule is that you get here legally.

Okay, so let's revise the immigration laws and allow more from Mexico & central america. Excellent idea. Let's enforce the existing laws on the huge companies that employ illegals. Good idea. But let's also build a wall to show Mexico that it's NOT OKAY to fuck up your nation and then encourage people who sneak illeglally over here to pay your welfare for the people left behind because you're too messed up to do it yourself. It's not good for the Mexicans nor Americans.

I don't think it's racist (I'm sure some people are...but I'm not.) If there was a huge influx of Canadians coming across the canadian border, I'd be all for a wall up there too. But there isn't. So we focus on the south and the humongus problems illegal immigration causes in states like Arizona, Texas, and California.

My grandfather came here and made himself a much better life. But he did it LEGALLY. If from the start you don't respect the laws of the land, it's not a good jumping off point in your new country.
posted by aacheson at 4:08 PM on February 26, 2006


What the US took through treachery and war, the Mexicans are now taking back through biology.
posted by telstar at 4:31 PM on February 26, 2006


Remember how well the Maginot Line kept the Germans from invading France?
posted by JJ86 at 4:59 PM on February 26, 2006


Many illegal immigrants don't want to be permanent residents. They only want to work and return home with their wages.

People with green cards are, in fact, free to return to their home country at any time, unless they land in prison. It's not an obligation to remain in the US.

What specifically is your problem with guest workers?

I don't have any significant problem with people who want to come to US, work, and then go back home.

I have a problem with those people being denied the opportunity to become a citizen if they wish no matter how long they live here. I have a problem with their residency permit being tied to holding a particular job.

I don't mean "Don't admit people who want to work and leave," I mean "Admit people who want to work and leave with the same green cards as anyone else." If you are good enough to work here, you are good enough to stay here and good enough to be made a citizen if you choose.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:05 PM on February 26, 2006


I mean "Admit people who want to work and leave with the same green cards as anyone else."

Obtaining a green card is a complicated and time-consuming task. It's not really an option for a migrant worker looking for short-term, immediate employment. A guest worker program would allow easier legal entry without necessarily excludeing anyone wishing to become a permanent resident.
posted by soiled cowboy at 5:36 PM on February 26, 2006


I'm opposed to the border wall in a political and ideological sense.
However, I don't believe the wall is intended to twart immigration as much as to contain a violent criminal situation.

Many thousands of crimes are commited every year along the border in which the immigrants are the victims; rape, robbery, murder and extortion. We don't hear much about these because they happen in very rural areas and the general public doesn't care about the victims. This situation is a huge concern for the people who live in those rural communities. The proposed wall will simply narrow the fields in which these crimes occur making it much easier for the Border Patrol to maintain the situation.

Believe it or not, but the BP does a lot to prevent these crimes against aliens.

Finally, yes, I live in very close proximity to the border and visit the actual border often. In my punker days in the '80s I was frequently invited to go "beaner bashing". I hope that whatever outcome we have makes life along the border safer for all.
posted by snsranch at 6:10 PM on February 26, 2006


Maybe they should just for a minute consider the demand side of the low-wage-employment stuff before doing even more to take out frustrations on the supply side. When a few agribusiness owners and hotel managers go to jail for chronic illegal alien employment I'll start to take the rest of it seriously. Short of that it's all posturing and scapegoating.
posted by mikel at 8:16 PM on February 26, 2006


And I'd love to see some figures about automatic guns coming in through Mexico

I heard a report, maybe on NPR, about the frustration many Mexican border control authorities have at the fact that the smugglers have access to powerful weaponry purchased in the United States. The drugs and illegals go north across the border, but the guns go south.
posted by LarryC at 9:52 AM on February 27, 2006


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