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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg View) — The U.S.-Mexican border has had quite a year. In the spring, it offered the spectacle of tens of thousands of Central American children (and some mothers) crossing, hoping to have their tickets punched for the American Dream. Now, with Ebola and Islamic State terrorists dominating our imaginations, the border features in political ads as the unhinged back door through which our nightmares enter.

Despite such earnest warnings from deeply sincere political candidates, the border is not actually so bad. Ebola and Islamic State terrorists do not appear to be crossing in overwhelming quantities. However, more than 2,400 unaccompanied minors did cross the border in September. That’s about 8,000 fewer than in June, when traffic peaked. September’s pace would put the U.S. on track for almost 30,000 children per year, flooding an immigration court system with a backlog of 400,000 cases. Still, it’s worth noting that the greatest challenge along the U.S side of the border right now seems to be migrant children.

The border will never be sealed; if land routes ever become impassable, migrants and traffickers will arrive by sea. It will remain a problem as long as desperation exists in the south and an enormous appetite for illegal drugs (and cheap labor) rumbles up north. For the most part, however, the future is looking up. Violent crime along the U.S. side has been trending down, even if yelling about it has not. Illegal immigration has also declined significantly over the past decade. Meanwhile, more than $1 billion worth of goods and more than one million people legally cross the U.S.-Mexico border daily.

I’m not the only optimist.

Princeton professor, Douglas Massey, a sharp critic of the U.S. border crackdown, envisions a more open, free-flowing border in 25 years. “That would be rational given that Mexico’s income is rising relative to that in the U.S., fertility is at parity with the U.S., and Mexico is becoming an aging society,” he wrote in an email. “The boom in undocumented migration is over for good, in my opinion, and at some point the cost of massive border enforcement will exceed its symbolic political value.”

Stuart Anderson, a policy advisor at the Immigration and Naturalization Service under President George W. Bush, suggested that U.S. politics will evolve to meet the challenge. “I think 25 years from now illegal entry will be much less of a concern because Congress would have passed measures to allow legal work visas for lower-skilled jobs in the U.S. and economic and demographic changes south of the border will likely mean less interest in coming to the United States to work,” he wrote via email. “It then will be easier for technology and border personnel to monitor the border once natural economic forces are directed into legal channels, as opposed to today, when workers from the south often enter the black market in labor and utilize human smuggling cartels because legal avenues are not considered a viable option.”

In other words, improved economies south of the border, and more rational migrant labor policies north of it, will lead the way to more legal border crossings and fewer illegal ones. Simon Rosenberg, a pro-immigration advocate, points out that even with all the border’s troubles, that future is already unfolding: Trade is increasing as illegal immigration declines. “It’s been a policy success,” he said by email.

Of course, it’s possible that these people don’t get out much, that they live in ivory towers or gated communities or homes for the deluded and blinkered. Or it’s possible that they’re a little more honest about the realities of the U.S. border than the sleazy politicians trying to scare the rest of us.

Photo: Fronteras Desk via Flickr

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  • Dominick Vila

    The first thing to remember is that people with the Ebola virus – and terrorists – don’t have to jump our Southern border fences or avoid electrocution to enter the USA, they do it peacefully, with visas issued by the State Department, via our largest international airports. The fences in our Southern border are designed to keep impoverished people, whose physiognomy is preponderantly indigenous, and who speak Spanish, out of the United States.
    What happens after those we deem “undesirable” enter the USA?
    Some go to our best hospitals when they get ill, others attend premier institutions of learning such as Embry Riddle University to learn the skills needed to pursue their goals, and others are exploited, harassed, and often deported for having the audacity of trying to escape misery and benefit from a welcoming American business sector.

    • joe schmo

      Hey Dominick, haven’t you heard it’s not only the visa’s that are being issued to poor countries (and may I remind you how hard it is to get a visa or green card to work here in the U.S. if you are an extremely educated European. I know this because a family member recently had to go through disastrous paperwork and black tape to come here to work at Harvard Research Center. He has a PHD in Organic Chem)

      Just how many of these ‘POOR’ vagrants do you think this country can sustain and, by the way, who is paying for their education at ‘Embry Riddle Univeristy.’ Could it be the middle class taxpaying public who is getting poorer all the time. The border is NOT secure. I live in CaliMexico for crying out loud where the illustrious ‘ponga’ boats slither through the Channel islands and land on our vacant shores only to be found empty once the police find them in the morning.

      I’m not exactly sure how you people think. What made America great was the fact that it was something special to be accepted into this country. Opportunities were endless if you did immigrate here the RIGHT way. There used to be quotas for each country. I believe they should be the same for each one. Many who come here now don’t want to be Americans. Some even hate us. They don’t assimilate or know our laws, nor do they tolerate them. Your Liberalism is turning this once special place into a third world hell hole. We are a melting pot that has gotten out of hands. The Muslims already half rule and run Europe. I hope you want to return to the decadence of Rome before it’s fall and then the Dark Ages because that is where we are headed thanks to all this lax liberalism.

      Of all the countries in the world ours is the most liberal in letting EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER IN. This is a recipe for disaster. Muslim ax hackers, Hispanic’s wth a vengance to kill, drug Cartel from the South of the border, rude Haitians who would rather stab you than look at you. This is what we are letting in? Don’t get your Utopian world view because it doesn’t exist.

      • Dominick Vila

        First of all, let me add to the jest of the NM article, the use of hyperbole such as potential Ebola threats via our Southern border. While we focus on facile arguments to justify ethnic and cultural bias, the Canadian Public Health Organization, with Glaxo’s help, developed an Ebola vaccine. The vaccine is expected to be available for use in Africa and wherever is needed, as early as December of this year. That’s the difference between hysteria and objectivity.
        Yes, it is usually not easy to get a visa and a green card. My wife, who was born in Spain, was able to get both because I am an American born citizen.
        That is why we need immigration law reform, which those consumed by xenophobia often interpret as Reagan style amnesty.
        I am not sure why your relative had so much trouble getting one, however. H1b visas are issued by the thousands to attract foreign professional and fill the void that exists in the USA as a result of not having enough scientists to satisfy demand.
        We cannot absorb tens of millions of semi-skilled or unskilled workers, but we definitely benefit from those who are already here, and we would not have been adversely affected, economically or morally, by allowing a few thousand Central American children escaping violence, poverty, malnutrition and disease entering the USA.
        Interestingly, or perhaps not, nobody seems to be bothered by our porous Northern border. I wonder why…

        • The Emperor proposed amnesty, and citizenship. That is why so many more stated to cross the border. They were INVITED to come by the Emperor. Immigration is a good thing, but not ILLEGAL immigration.

          • Dominick Vila

            Do you realize that when you refer to a U.S. President as an Emperor you imply that the USA is an imperialist nation, or is that too difficult for you to comprehend?
            BTW, the last amnesty of illegal immigrants was granted by former President Reagan, not President Obama.

          • I use the term Emperor because he seems to think he has divine rights to rule, and that he is above our laws. The Emperor and liberals seem to want an imperialist nation, and to be ruled over. I also use the term emperor because he does not deserve to be called a president.
            BTW, the Emperor did say he was going to grant amnesty and citizenship to illegals.

          • Dominick Vila

            Your explanation is so weird that it is almost laughable. I heard many things to describe an Emperor, having “divine” powers is not one of them. President Obama and liberals at large want to be “ruled over”? Ruled over by who?
            A president elected and re-elected by solid majorities does not deserve to be president?
            President Obama never said that he was going to grant amnesty and a path to citizenship to illegal immigrants. He supports the stalled DREAM Act, which would allow the children of illegal immigrants to remain in the USA indefinitely (consistent with the 7th Amendment), and children that entered the USA illegally before they turned 16 to stay in the USA.
            The only amnesty granted to everyone, regardless of age, was Ronald Reagan’s in 1986.
            The benchmark for amnesty of illegal immigrants is the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. That measure,
            signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, allows illegal immigrants
            to become legal permanent residents if they could prove they were in
            the country by 1982 and met minimal other requirements.
            Sen. Ted Cruz’s recent statement was based, partly, on the fact that, when asked, 95% of the Central American children that came to the USA in recent months said that they were promised “permiso” (permission) to stay. Their opinion, such as it is, was based on what they heard from parents already in the USA and from what they heard from people in countries like Guatemala and Honduras.
            There is a huge difference between what Reagan did in 1986, when he granted amnesty to 4 million illegal immigrants, and addressing a humanitarian crisis involving young children.

        • James Bowen

          We do not benefit from having all these legal immigrants here, let alone the illegal ones. This nation is overpopulated. Immigration is the cause and it must therefore be slashed. Legal immigrants of course are now Americans and have as much right to be here as anyone else, but illegal immigrants should be expelled.

          • Dominick Vila

            The world is overpopulated, including China, India, and Europe; the USA is not. With a birth rate of 1.8 births (negative population growth) the USA benefits from immigration both as a means to overcome demographic concerns as as result of the work ethics, ideas, and labor of newcomers.
            Legal immigrants are people who were granted a visa and residency by the U.S. government. Because of the way our immigration laws are written, most are professionals.
            Bear in mind that the ancestors of many of the Latinos whose presence some people detest, were in what we know today as the United States of America long before the pilgrims arrived.

          • James Bowen

            The U.S. is overpopulated. Our glutted labor force, water shortages in the Western states, and rampant urban sprawl are all testimony to that. Using completely renewable organic agricultural methods, we can only sustain somewhere between 150-200 million people, and we are now well over 300 million. With unemployment being what it is, there is nothing to be concerned about demographically. We need to achieve negative population growth so that we can gradually get down to more sustainable numbers. To do that, we need to slash immigration levels. These immigrants do not offer us anything we don’t already have.

            Also, a large portion of the legal immigrants coming here are extended family members of immigrants already here. This is known as chain migration.

          • Dominick Vila

            The scarcity of potable water is a global concern that affects every continent and almost 3 billion people worldwide. It is likely to become the catalyst for warfare and global social unrest within a few decades, and the reason for a significant decline in agriculture with devastating effects to humanity.
            The problems afflicting some Western states in the United States are caused, mostly, by the effects of climate change and mismanagement of water resources, not as a result of immigration.
            The water supply in Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico has been scarce since before we became a nation, and that urban development, mismanagement of resource vital to our ability to exist, and waste, including our determination to have beautiful lawns and large golf courses in places where water is scarce are all contributing to the terrible situation in those states.
            The states most affected by this phenomena, and man made idiocy, had a large Latino presence since well before the first Anglo showed up in that part of the United States. Would it be fair to say that the effects of water scarcity was caused by the needs and preferences of the newcomers?
            Problems like this are not solved by pointing fingers. A combination of desalination plants, water restrictions, and effective transport of potable water to the affected areas would do a lot more than deporting those who are disliked by a small but vociferous segment of our population, leaving those responsible for wasting one of our most valuable resources continue to enjoy their wasteful habits.

          • James Bowen

            Whatever the cause of the water shortages in the West, the fact is they are exacerbated by an already large and growing population. There simply isn’t enough water for all the people who are there. U.S. population growth is almost totally driven by immigration, and the Southwest is at the forefront of this immigration-driven population growth. We cannot increase the fresh water supply, but we can halt the population growth by reducing immigration and even reduce it some by deporting all the illegal aliens there. Other measures should also be taken to disincentivize internal migration to that part of the country (such as levying a water tax). These are far more feasible options than building more continent-crossing aquedects and pipelines to bring water from other areas (and those areas will almost certainly resist such efforts–the Great Lakes states have already formed a political alliance to this end).

            By the way, there are a lot more people who support strictly enforcing our immigration laws that allowing illegal aliens legal status. If you don’t believe me, go to and compare the web visitation levels of NumbersUSA to those of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, La Raza, America’s Voice. However, while I do not deny that there are bigots out there, most people who want our immigration laws enforced are far more concerned about the threat to our quality of life and economic well-being posed by mass immigration than they are about the ethnicity of the immigrants.

          • Dominick Vila

            I am among those who oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. They broke our laws and there must be a price to pay for doing so. I believe, however, that mass deportation is not the answer and, consequently, I support the McCain-Kennedy guest worker program solution.
            BTW, the largest influx of illegal immigrants occurred during the Reagan-Bush II time frame. It is now at its lowest level since the early 1980s, and deportations are at record highs. If the issuance of visas for foreign professionals was discontinued, semi-skilled Latino workers were deported, and Cuban refugees were all deported, economic chaos would prevail. We need foreign professionals to satisfy demand, and we need semi-skilled workers to do work that most of us don’t want to do, to keep prices down, to keep inflation under control, and to fill the gap caused by an aging population.

          • James Bowen

            Allowing them to legally remain here and work here is amnesty. Instead of creating more guest worker programs, we should be dismantling the ones we do have. I would rather see mass deportation than amnesty, but I think attrition through enforcement is the better way to take care of the problem.

            Deportations have actually plummeted since 2009. The only reason why the numbers are what they are is because border apprehensions are now counted as deportations. Traditionally, only interior removals were counted as deportations. Interior removals have nosedived.

            Driving illegal aliens out and slashing legal immigration would be a tremendous boost to our economy. There are plenty of Americans who are able and willing to do the work that these aliens do and there is no gap due to an aging population, as our unemployment numbers are testimony to. With decreased demand for consumer goods, prices would go down, not up; and with a less glutted labor market there would be upward pressure on wages. The only people who benefit from our extremely permissive immigration policies, other than the immigrants themselves, are the wealthy who profit from their cheap labor. The vast majority of Americans bear the cost of this labor glut and see no benefit whatsoever.

          • Dominick Vila

            The McCain-Kennedy “Guest Worker Program” proposal was not the same as amnesty. Amnesty is an unconditional pardon that, among other things, paves the way to citizenship. McCain’s proposal would have created a second class type of legal residents, without ever having a chance to become U.S. citizens or enjoy the benefits and privileges of being a U.S. citizen.
            The deportations are real, and do not involve sending people caught at the border back to Mexico, which is something that our border patrol has done consistently for decades.
            The only caveat is that deportations take place when illegal immigrants are caught committing a crime, regardless of how trivial it may be, rather than based on profiling which would inevitably result in Latinos, whose ancestors lived in what we know now as the USA since long before the first European arrived, being singled out for interrogation.

          • James Bowen

            Amnesties need not be unconditional. They can have strings attached. However, most illegal aliens who are here are far more interested in legal status and work permits that they are citizenship, and S.744 as well as the McCain-Kennedy bills instantly give both. Considering that under current law they are not allowed to work here (and other-than-Mexicans are not even allowed to be here), that is unconditional amnesty.

            The deportations have only gone up because border apprehensions are counted. See here for more details:
            In the interior, there are almost no deportations anymore. Even those who have committed serious crimes are being released, according to recent news reports.

            There are plenty of Americans who are willing and able to do such work and would rather do so than seek higher education. Those who seek work in certain occupations are often turned away in favor of aliens. It is certain industries, such as construction and roofing, meatpacking, landscaping, field labor, housekeeping, etc., this is especially prevalent. However, there are other industries that employ labor, such as coal mining, that don’t do this as much. In West Virginia, most of the coal miners there are native-born. If I recall correctly, the one survivor of the Sago Mine Disaster in 2006 was an electrical engineer who opted for a job in coal mining instead because the pay was better.

  • James Bowen

    Whatever the state of our border security, interior enforcement is virtually non-existent. It is interior enforcement, not border security, that is the key to halting and reversing illegal immigration.

  • EaglesGlen

    Each illegal alien has no break even point somewhere in the future where that illegal pays out more in taxes than they consume from government. When the number of years become more like 100 years if at all, accuracy of estimation does not exist.
    Naturalization process as I understand is about 40 years providing they do become an American citizen.
    It is time for Mexico to provide all that illegals come here for as that is where they step into America from.

  • EaglesGlen

    Big joke is those that have a softer life tell the 10’s of millions of Americans to give their America and jobs to illegal aliens and stay on welfare.

  • EaglesGlen

    The border is secure when we take in about zero illegals into custody and all are most immediately returned to Mexico who makes a huge profit from illegals. How did we miss the huge profit of foreign aid received by these countries?

  • bikejedi

    Who wrote this and were they not paying attention this summer as we were invaded by over 70,000 criminal invaders … Invaders who were encouraged by Obama and the Dems to break our laws and invade our border ? The only people who would perpetrate such a blatant LIE are those who want to keep the border wide open to encourage criminal behavior . They of course wnat that not for the good of the Country but to try to build a permanent Dem voting majority . These people dont care about National Security as many of these kids are diseased . They dont care about Security because it is well known that Muslim prayer rugs and Qurans are turning up in crossing areas … Who cares right we all know that Islam is a religion of peace right ???? Yeah the Border is real secure just ask Brian Terry … Who would read this tripe and agree with it and what kind of motives agenda and ideology would that take ???

  • Al Amo

    Obama lied to a joint session of Congress in October, 2009 when he asserted that no taxpayer funds would be used to pay for baby-murder under ObamaCare.

  • Gene Hull

    WTF? Boarder is fairly secure?
    Why do you try to insult our intelligence.