Monday, January 24, 2011

Securing the border: Why a fence will never work until we reform the system

-- by Dave

You could just about hear the heart attacks happening at Fox News -- home of Republican nativists' favorite rallying cry: 'We have to secure the border before we can have immigration reform!' -- the other morning last week when documentary filmmaker Roy Germano -- whose last movie, The Other Side of Immigration, is a must-see for anyone serious about the subject -- came on to discuss a little clip he made recently.

The clip, which he put up on YouTube, shows two American girls easily climbing over the border fence that Minutemen, authorities and right-wing talk-show blowhards all seem to believe will keep out illegal immigrants.

Obviously someone booked it at Fox because they thought it would demonstrate what a lousy job the Obama administration is doing on border security. But the clip itself actually made clear that the whole concept of using a fence to control immigration is a joke.

As Germano put it: "I thought it revealed that the fence is quite absurd, it's not doing the job it's supposed to do, it's a waste of money, and it also has a lot of unintended consequences."

And then he offered his thoughts on how to really make the borders secure -- and as he explained, the only way we're going to be able to do that is by having a rational system of immigration, instead of the outdated, xenophobic system we currently have in place. This, of course, is when the heart attacks started happening:

GERMANO: If we are really serious about our border security, I think it's in our interest to be monitoring and regulating the immigration flow that is inevitable. There is a multi-million-dollar -- hundreds of million-dollar -- industry out there of human smugglers that will try to smuggle people in. They will build tunnels under the fence, they will get people over the fence.

So we should be investing in an immigration system that actually gives people the opportunity to enter the country legally. The typical Mexican has almost no way of entering the U.S. legally. So we should be expanding the number of visas we offer so that employers can hire the workers they need to meet the labor demand in our country.

SCOTT: All right, y-you have just lit up our chat room, I'm sure, because there are lots of unemployed people in this country who would like to have jobs, and they say, 'Why are we letting people in where there's so much unemployment in America?'

GERMANO: But there are certain sectors of the economy where it's the old, you know, 'immigrants do jobs that Americans don't want to do.' I go to western New York state a lot and I visit family farms who have had ads in papers for 20 years and have never had a native-born speaker respond to that ad. And they depend on immigrant labor. But our H2A visa program, which is the farm worker visa program, only has less than 70,000 visas for 800,000 to 1.2 million jobs that need to be filled on our family farm.

We've discussed this point quite a bit too. The only problem is that Americans are not only in denial about the numbers of unskilled-labor jobs their economy produces, but the willingness and ability of native-born Americans to actually fill them.

Here's the original YouTube clip from Germano:

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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