Thursday, September 10, 2009

Editorial: Border control remains the key

The unnamed Courier editor returns to one of his favorite themes: that amazing high-tech border wall that will keep the scary brown people out of Arizona. "Once we have that minimal control," he intones, then we can start dealing with the problem of illegal immigration.

Too bad the sort of "minimal control" he has in mind is so far beyond practical reality as to make it literally impossible.

With moon-shot priority he wants us to build a 500-mile physical barrier and staff it with enough guards to stop thousands of desperate people from penetrating it. Remember the 87-mile Berlin Wall. Now imagine six of them in a row, across rugged desert terrain. And that's just for Arizona.

No, he doesn't really mean it. Since it can't be accomplished by anything short of a police state, the whole "control of the border" meme is nothing more than a political protest sign that the right knows it can use over and over again to rile up Americans who are scared of brown people.

What the editor and his pals just don't seem to get is the inescapable logic that if 12 or 20 million people are living in this country illegally, there must be room for them in the labor force. Sure, a lot of legal Americans are out of work now. But we're also hearing that a lot of immigrants are going home. This is not a coincidence.

Almost everyone coming over the border would do it legally if they could. Our "illegal" problem is not one of enforcement, but rather an artificial scarcity of legal status imposed by our government in the form of quotas and delaying procedures, much of it rooted in racism.

Immigrants, by and large, are not looking for citizenship. They're looking for work. Forget the "path to citizenship" distraction, focus on the path to payroll taxes, and we'll clear up 90% of this issue in a jiffy.

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