Home » Borders, Walls, and Immigration Reform: Embrace the Power of ‘And.’

Borders, Walls, and Immigration Reform: Embrace the Power of ‘And.’

So, what shall we talk about, you and I, on this first real post of the New Year?

The last post wasn’t much of a page turner, to be honest. How exciting can it be to read, “Hey! I’m back?” Not very.

So what can I write about today that might capture your interest, and maybe even a comment or two? I have options. I can choose the fantastically garish, and pile on to the unfortunate trans woman with major rage control issues, but that would be too cheap and easy. Besides, I’m sure she’s catching enough grief already; why would I want to add to it? I could talk about Sen Warren beclowning herself on Instagram, but again, why? Those who love her will still love her while those who despise her will continue to do so.  I could talk about Nancy Pelosi’s return to lead the House yet again, despite assurances that returning the House to Democrats would not include the return of Pelosi. Apparently, the expiration date on that plan was shorter than expected; so short, in fact, that it leads me to wonder if the plan was ever a reality in the first place. But no matter, the schemers got what they wanted, as they so often do, and Ms. Pelosi has the gavel yet again.

However, we are edging closer to a topic worthy of discussion. Not the shutdown itself, but the reason for the shutdown.

President Trump’s Wall.

He ran on the wall, and to give him credit, he’s been working on getting the wall since he won. Rather than imitate former Presidents who retreated from campaign promises before the echoes of their swearing in faded, President Trump has tried to fulfill the promise of a border wall. Democrats have opposed him steadfastly on this issue, vehemently enough that they face accusations of favoring open borders and no security.

Both sides appear to be intractable, refusing to move from their positions, which means the government partial shutdown may continue for awhile. BTW, if you want to know what is and isn’t affected, here’s a good link from the NYT.

Let’s start with a couple of basic propositions.

  1. A nation without borders will not be a nation for long.
  2. A nation that cannot or will not defend its borders has no borders.

Both of these seem pretty self evident to me, but they might not to you, and if so, feel free to bring them into question in the comments. A quick look at history demonstrates to me that the idea of a defended border lies at the heart of the idea of a state, whether we are talking about the first city states or current nation states.

Now, with these two propositions in mind, it seems clear that a nation must be both willing and able to defend its borders against hostile actors. I think everyone can agree on that. But that leaves a lot of room left for discussion. What if the people on the border are not hostile? Do we have to be able to defend our borders against them? What if all they want is to come here and partake of the freedoms we both hold dear and take for granted? Shouldn’t they have that opportunity? If freedom is a natural right of man, then should it be denied to a person because of where they were born? Is America such a unique place in the world that it is the only place where people can find the freedoms and rights we enjoy? If we allow every person who wants to cross our borders unfettered access, will we be able to maintain or freedoms, and our way of life?

I could go on, but the point I’m making should be clear; we can believe in border security and still hold a multitude of ideas in how they should be secured. For that reason, accusations that Democrats favor completely open borders, or that Republicans are racist nativists are crap. Sure both sides have extremists among them, but the rank and file are not monsters; they just have a reasonable difference of opinion on how to best secure our borders while growing our nation.

We are busy deciding who we let in, and who we keep out?

And that brings us to the next element of the wall. The Gate.

A strong wall is a good thing, but it must have a wide gate if it is to be effective. The gate does two things. First, and most importantly, it gives us control over who gets in and how often. Second, and almost as important, a wide gate takes the pressure off the wall just a sluice gate does for a dam. If prospective immigrants know that a legal path to immigration is readily available, they’ll be that much less likely to climb over the wall illegally. After all, if you can get here legally, then why bother doing so illegally?

Of course, the instant objection is going to be “Unless we let everybody in, which defeats the purpose of the wall, then there will always be those who try to get in illegally. This is a true statement, but it is equally true that no matter how tall you build the wall, there will be somebody who will climb over it. Or tunnel under it. Or bribe their way through it. There is no 100% solution, so damning a proposal because it won’t fix 100% of the cases is an exercise in juvenile thinking. The correct way of evaluating a plan is on whether or not the benefit exceeds the cost. Will a wall keep out enough folks to justify it’s cost? And will opening immigration in a controlled way reduce the pressures that drive illegal immigration enough to make a difference?

Sadly, all the questions I’ve posed in this article do not lend themselves to ready solution by our soundbite driven political process. Nor do they provide a catchy, emotional attack with which to blister the other side. Which, of course, means not only won’t they be answered by our politicians or media outlets, they won’t even be asked.

Again, a subject for another post.

We have two sides at loggerheads over how to deal with immigration. One side wants a wall, which the other side detests. The other side wants to overhaul the immigration system, to make it work better, but the one side is deeply suspicious that by ‘work better,’ what is actually meant is ‘procure more voters.’ Now, here’s what I find interesting about this situation.

We need both in order to resolve the issues with our border. We need the wall, and we need to reform the immigration system.

Wouldn’t it make sense to tie the two together, since they both address the same issue? We need a forward thinking voice, not tied to a political agenda that can speak out and demand that any funding for the wall be tied to real immigration reform. Both sides get something they want, and more importantly, America gets something it needs. Everybody wins.

Except, of course, for the two groups who’ve grown fat by making sure that conflicts like these never get resolved. I’m referring to the Democratic and Republican Parties. The immigration issue, like most others that come before Congress, is seen as a way to garner votes and power by each party. Resolving the issue would rob them of that tool. The only way we’re going to get them to fix it is if we force them to do so. That forward thinking voice I mentioned a minute ago? That voice must come, can only come from us.

We the people.

We get the politics we vote for. If we want change in Washington, then we have to change how we vote.

But that’s a topic for another post.

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