Friday, July 9, 2010

A Solution to the U.S.-Mexico Border Problem

By Barry Farber

"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem ... may my right hand lose its cunning."


No, this is not another screed about who owns Jerusalem. It's about right hands losing their cunning.

A person losing his cunning to age and Altzheimer's at a certain point is not just expectable, but inevitable. But why should businesses, organizations, countries, and governments suffer the same deterioration?

Don't younger people keep on entering and learning what it was that made that entity successful? And, barring outside market or other forces, can't they keep things the way they are? Or, at least, can't they see the early signs of decay and take bold moves to reverse them?

I almost wept over lunch a week ago when someone familiar with a radio station I knew well when it dominated its area in the 1970s led me through every detail of that station's decline into almost comic-opera ineptitude.

Why do so many jungles re-engulf so many Angkor Wats?

I invite your attention to America's southern border with Mexico. It's somewhat reminiscent of parts of the Paris Peace Accords negotiated by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to end America's involvement in the Vietnam War. At one point in those accords both sides officially agreed there were no troops from North Vietnam in the south at all.

And in another section there were detailed provisions under which Hanoi would be allowed to resupply those nonexistent troops!

Here we have Mexican infiltrators (Oh! Do you prefer "migrants"?) pouring across into the United States in search of work and a better life. The American government is doing little to stem that tide. The Mexican leadership hails those workers as "heroes" for carrying some kind of abstract isotopes of a borderless Mexico farther into the north.

American employers eager to access a low-cost labor pool choose not to be at all offended by the violation of America's borders. A Texas border town declares Spanish its new official language and makes all city employees pledge never to cooperate with the U.S. agents patrolling the border. The mayor of Laredo (Texas, U.S.A.) declares, "I am loyal to the causes of Mexico" and says she doesn't believe the border will long exist the way it is today.

Meanwhile, Mexicans are dying of heat and thirst in the Arizona desert, and an Arizona county on the border, which is closing health clinics for lack of funds, allocates $25,000 to set up water stations in the desert so Mexicans entering the U.S. illegally might survive.

Meanwhile, those illegal ineligibles are voting. Counterfeit dollars get a lot of attention. Counterfeit votes, nada. (Those still smarting under the fact that Al Gore won the popular vote over George W. Bush might seek solace inside the following thought. George Bush won the popular vote in those areas least likely to have illegal voters. Al Gore won the popular vote in those areas MOST like to have illegal voters.)

To say "We can do better than this" is a pep talk.

To say "We PROVED 60 years ago we can do MUCH better than this!" is a more valuable utterance.

Back then America had the "Bracero" program. Mexican workers didn't have to risk their lives and break American law. All they had to do was sign and get on the bus. They were taken to jobs in the great American Southwest and housed in barracks-like facilities wildly better than the illegals inhabit today. They had clean beds, showers, good food, recreation, medical care and a legitimate job.

They were given walk-around money, but the bulk of their earnings was banked for them in Mexico to help their families. At the end of the harvest or the season or whatever, they had a big party and said goodbye and returned to Mexico, the envy of their neighbors who had no comparable rewards to show for that period of time.

Look it up. It was called, again, the "Bracero" program and was hailed as a major success in all the major magazines and newspapers at the time.

"Win" is a joy. When you achieve something that's called a "win-win" it makes you feel like a Nobel Prize-winning diplomat. A reincarnation of the Bracero program would be a "win-win-win-win." The workers aspiring to earn American dollars to improve their lives and the lives of their families win. The Mexican government, which relishes the infusion of American dollars into the Mexican economy, wins. The American employers get their less expensive labor without breaking the law or acting unpatriotically. And the U.S. Border Patrol can concentrate on drug-runners and not diffuse their efforts chasing plain old workers seeking to improve their lives.

Add a fifth "win." The Bracero program was managed in a way that made welfare recipiency and illegal voting unthinkable. I don't recall one word about those Mexicans participating in the Bracero program scamming welfare OR voting illlegally. I don't even remember anything about crime or barroom brawls involving the Bracero Mexicans. They didn't even play their guitars too loudly.

They gave Mexico a good name. Our administration of the program gave America a good name. We even spoke of it as part of our "Good Neighbor Policy" without feeling corny!

Not everybody who used to drive 275 yards off the tee can do it anymore. Not everybody who could punt 60 yards can do it any more. Is it possible America is no longer capable of organizing a Bracero program?

The groups agitating the most loudly against border restrictions won't be any more thrilled by a new Bracero program than a tribe of cannibals would be by a new cold breakfast food reinforced with riboflavin. They bluntly demand return of the entire American Southwest � their name for that territory is "Aztlan" � to Mexico. They'll be neither pleased nor appeased with anything less.

No, a new Bracero plan is strictly for those who favor life, law, fairness, mutual advantage, a cross-border win multiplied by five, and the preservation of America's borders exactly where they are unchanged by even one mili-squidgen of an inch.