The Lawless Roads

The Arizona-US border is the scene of a massive influx of illegal trespassers and the home of a new law that intends to enforce the crime of being in the country illegally. The problem is huge. Hidden cameras in Bisbee show hundreds of people running across the frontier without interference. The AZ border is perceived to be impervious and Arizona's response is to enforce what the US Government refuses to do.

Specifically, the new Law SB1070 "Requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers. Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties." In 2007, Arizona enacted the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA), prohibiting an employer from knowingly or intentionally employing an unauthorized alien

The media response to the Arizona's law was an avalanche of condemnation, until opinion polls showed 70% of Americans support AZ SB1070. The current Obama administration intends to challenge the law, but recently announced plans to send a token 1,200 National Guard soldiers and $500 million to fix the problem. Shortly thereafter, on one day during the week of May 24, during a 24-hour period, the US Government captured 687 illegal immigrants in Southern Arizona. Maybe some politicians listened (in an election year). The most fascinating response came from Ral Grijalva (D, US Representative-AZ), who urged federal non-cooperation with the new law and called for a targeted economic boycott of Arizona (the state he represents).

Throughout our short history as a nation, People have always come to the US with a hope and a prayer for a better life. The US is the perceived home of opportunity and a shelter from oppression and persecution. Yet, the 2,000-mile border with Mexico has a non-fenced leaky corridor with a bull's eye in Nogales Arizona. The 'hole' is an in and out throughway for hopeful workers, kidnapped children, fugitives, and a 64-billion dollar narcotics operation exported from Culiacn Mexico. By the way, Phoenix, Arizona is the world's number-2 site for kidnapped children; Mexico City is number-1.

The latest figures estimate 500,000 illegal immigrants live in Arizona. The route to enter Arizona is fraught with dangers from the corrupt Mexican police, the felonious 'coyotes that have no respect for their charges, and the narcotraficantes who would use the immigrants as mules to carry their drugs. Their worst enemy is the Sonoran desert in summer where an adult needs eight gallons of water per day to survive unprotected beneath the 110 to 125 degree sun.

Those of us who live in southern Arizona know it's never a good idea to venture alone into the desert. The once benign traffic of illegal entrants has now taken on the frightening presence of routine drug-packing groups shepherded by an AK-47 carrying teenager. Worse yet might be visiting the once delightful border town of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico where beheadings, mass executions and routine shootings are commonplace.

The humanitarian plight of the people seeking our sanctuary is awesome. You would think, given our country's short history on the World scene, there would be compassion for people who need a safe place, a job and a future. The horrors that befall the hopeful immigrants to our country are well documented, but none so poignant and touching as the Pulitzer Prize winning Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother by Sonia Nazario.

The immigrants who reside illegally inside the US fall under two categories: Those with genuine 'looking' Green Cards, and bogus social security numbers; and those who cannot afford false documents. Incidentally, there is a Federal banking law that forbids opening a new account with a social security number already being used by someone else. It is not a crime, but the bank account cannot be opened. In comparison there is no such requirement to wire money to Mexico or to cash checks at bad news shops with big fees. Ironically, the fake ID's occasion jobs with deductions for social security, federal and state taxes, disability and an annual letter from the Social Security that questions multiple filing under the same number, but nothing is ever done about it. Someday, retirement benefits will be difficult to consider and more difficult to calculate.

The problem: approximately 5-million to 30-million people are in the US illegally, and more are pouring in every day. Before the financial crisis, it would have been magnificent if our Washington government had approved a functional border blockade, a fair guest worker program, and an amnesty-citizenship plan for those who are already here. They didn't. The problem persists, and now it is worse. We are in deep trouble. Since the financial bubble exploded in 2007, the US has become unstable financially.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts a US 2010 budget deficit this year of 10.7% (that's half as much as the EC countries and more than Greece). Not surprisingly, the US financial markets went south weeks after the Fed stopped buying mortgage-backed securities. Our future is uncertain; the good news is the US Dollar's role as a reserve currency serves to garnish a lower debt-borrowing cost for a government awash in debt.

Some propose to stop the inflow of immigrants and incorporate those already here into the system as citizens; often erroneously citing Germany's successful unification to reinforce this argument. It is true Germany unified after having lost two World Wars, and the dreadful experience of stagflation, currency devaluations, and horrendous difficulties. But never once did German Social Security go bankrupt. Compare that to the currently bankrupt US Social Security, Medicare, Fannie May, Freddie Mac, and assuredly the new Health Care. And in less than four years the US debt, if unaddressed by fiscal responsibility, could soar to an impossible 60% of GDP.

What do we do? Send millions of immigrants back to Mexico? Seriously, that's not going to happen. I believe that we as a country must first seal our frontier with Mexico against further invasion. Next, we must again feel positive about our government by electing responsive and responsible government servants. At that time, we as a country must consider immigration and sensibly resolve what we can afford to do and what we want to do.

A sensible plan would be to require all undocumented current US residents to acquire a 3-year residency card and a valid social security number. With the residency permit, they would be required to pay taxes, pay for schools and shoulder their own medical treatments. The next step would be for our elected representatives to approve a meaningful plan for the incorporation of millions of new US citizens. For those who do not want this route, there would be a renewal policy for the residence permit, or an exit voucher.

The illegal transients living in the US must receive humanitarian treatment, be identified or expelled, and be offered a formal legal solution to their continued presence here, which has to conform to this financially weakened country's ability to perform. And forget about whom they will vote for, because you already know. They will vote for their families, their communities, and their schools. Relax, I would imagine full membership into our communities would occasion shudders of horror to realize we have already spent their grandchildren's inheritance. Could they really do worse than we have?

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