2014 Symposium: How do we stop the flow of illegal immigrants through our borders?

Asheville: Illegal immigrants are a vital resource for the economy. The depressed wages in the agricultural sector make it possible for many families to put food on the table. Housekeeping and janitorial services provided at sub-minimum wage costs represent a tremendous subsidy for businesses of all kinds. Immigrants who come to America seeking a better life represent the lifeblood of several important industries. Rather than asking what we can do to stop the flow of illegal immigration, we should be asking what we can do to encourage it.

According to the Department of Labor, 77% of agricultural workers were not born in America. About half of those were undocumented. Their work is miserable, their pay is low, and their existence is precarious. Yet, their labor is the reason why tomatoes do not cost $8.00 each. Worse yet, as economic condition in Mexico begin to improve, the impetus for farm workers to immigrate is declining. When states like Arizona and Arkansas pass repressive anti-immigration laws, the result is often food left rotting in the fields. Without cheap labor, our agricultural economy is in serious jeopardy.

Passing laws which make it easier for undocumented workers to obtain drivers’ licenses, receive medical care, and report abuses to the police are vital steps to ensuring our continued food security. States like Washington continue to attract migrant workers because of their hospitable laws, and apple prices remain relatively constant as a result. Anyone who complains about losing jobs to illegal immigrants is welcome to harvest grapes for a few dollars a day. Farm labor is always in demand.

Prescott Valley: We stop the flow of illegal immigrants through our borders with a number of actions, the first being to close and secure the borders and build sufficient double barriers directly at the borders along with security placed at key remote locations where illegals are entering and crossing private property. Every possible point of entry must be covered, closed and monitored. For added security, utilize infrared sensors to track illegals in crossing areas. Observation towers strategically placed fifty to one hundred miles apart would be other deterrents for apprehending illegals before they are able to reach a border crossing. Regular patrols by the Border Patrol, National Guard and added state militia members would be of support in any effort to secure the borders. Illegal immigrants presenting themselves at the border must be placed in immediate detention and given the necessary information about illegal border crossing and the immigration laws of the country that explain why they cannot remain in the country. They must know that the consequences are such that they will not receive any government services other than being asked to leave, put on a bus and returned to an area of safety.

Most importantly, immigration laws that are already in existence and on the books must be followed and enforced. With the non-enforcement of these laws, illegal immigrants are aware of the loopholes available to them to remain in the country with little threat of deportation or other actions.

In addition to direct intervention at the borders, the magnets that attract illegals must be terminated. That means disallowing illegals to be employed over American workers. Employers that hire illegals, either under the table (for cash) or who knowingly refuse to verify the citizenship status of a worker, must be fined and threatened with cancellation of business licenses. Even self-employed individuals and contractors working under another business person’s license must be subject to the same rules concerning hiring illegal immigrants. Cutting off job sources is a major deterrent in keeping illegal immigrants from crossing the border.

Another major step in stemming the flow of illegal immigrants is the termination of access to any public assistance or educational programs along with social security, social security disability, Medicaid and food stamps. The numbers of illegal immigrants currently on all assistance programs is overwhelming, and the costs of maintaining such a welfare state for non-citizens are staggering. With the immediate cut off from these programs, illegals will either self-deport or face the consequences of any direct refusal to leave the country.

Sanctuary cities, towns and safe havens must also be declared off limits to illegals. Immigration laws clearly state that harboring illegals is unlawful and the cities that have become safety nets for illegals must be put on notice that immigration law enforcement will replace their refusals to acknowledge that illegals are violating the law.

To deter criminal elements from crossing the borders, any criminal caught and apprehended in the United States must be immediately deported. If they are jailed in the United Sates for crimes committed, their home countries must reimburse states for expenses incurred for maintaining illegal criminals in American jails and prisons. Once released from any kind of custody, illegal immigrant criminals must be returned to their home countries.

Securing the borders, enforcing immigration laws, eliminating jobs, cutting off access to welfare and educational programs, curtailing sanctuary city havens, and deporting illegals are some of the avenues that can be used to stop the flow of illegal immigrants across our borders. If just a few of these ideas were instituted, enforced and followed, the illegal tides would be turned and millions would be forced to return to their home countries.

Raleigh: The problem of inflow of illegal immigrants into the United States has always been a subject of intense public debate and concern. Many people assert that illegal immigrants take away jobs from American citizens, heavily rely on government financial and medical assistance programs, contribute to the growth of criminal activity in the country, and repeatedly break immigration laws. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were 11.4 million illegal immigrants in the United States in 2012; consequently, the problem of illegal immigration is indeed a serious one.

In addition, recent executive action of President Barack Obama which would prevent deportation of nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants—loosely based on 2012 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) initiative which allowed about 600,000 young illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work legally—has fueled the debate even further. While the newly elected Republican Congress will certainly try to prevent that action from becoming a law, however successfully or unsuccessfully, it’s clear that the illegal immigration should be addressed more forcefully and efficiently. What can be done?

Majority of illegal immigrants come from Latin American countries (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, etc.), which means that effective border control is a key. Besides, American government needs to secure cooperation of involved governments so that they can also provide better control of their citizens who are trying to enter the U.S.A. illegally. At the same time, many critics argue that although many expensive measures such as construction of a fence, impressive increase of agents deployed to the Southwest border, aerial control and similar were undertaken, the inflow of illegal immigrants is still high. Obviously, something else needs to be done.

There are several, some might say dramatic, possibilities which might help to deter illegal immigrants from coming into the U.S.A:
– deportation of illegal immigrants must be executed much more efficiently and quicker;
– reorganize the welfare system so that illegal immigrants cannot access it even if they have had children in the U.S.A;
– do not grant citizenship or green cards to the children of illegal immigrants;
– reorganize visa tracking program because many illegal immigrants enter the country legally but overstay their visas;
– Once caught, an illegal immigrant should be prohibited from entering the U.S. legally forever.

Although the United States is the country of immigrants, times have changed. Whereas many good illegal immigrants come to the U.S.A. in search of better lives for themselves and their families, some of them abuse the welfare system, contribute little to the development of American society and growth of American economy, and commit crimes. Consequently, while America should provide legal opportunities of entry and stay for high-skilled and non-criminal immigrants, the government should undertake stricter measures in preventing low-skilled and often criminal persons from illegally entering the country.

Cartwright: I know there are some people who think this issue is as simple as closing the borders. There’s no doubt that we need to tighten up the U.S.-Mexico border. We’ve got people just walking across into the U.S., bringing kids here or having kids here, then expecting us to take care of them. Let’s load up the border with drones, the military and border patrol and turn these people away. I won’t hesitate to say we shoot them if they are sneaking across the border; that sends a powerful message. Plus an increased military presence and a shoot to kill mandate will help with the paramilitary drug cartels just across the border. We’re at war with the terrorists but we’re also at war with the paramilitary drug cartels in Mexico.

There are plenty illegals here who actually came here legally, most of them on student visas who stayed after the visa expired. We need to round them up and send them back where they came from, even if that isn’t a politically popular thing to do. These people have broken the law. They need to face the consequences. Then, we need to fix the broken immigration system. We need a better way to track the people who come into this country. With the technology we have today, let’s look to biometrics to keep track of people who come here. When their time is up, if they haven’t left the country, we track them down or make it very difficult for them to survive here. Make it difficult for them to get a job, rent an apartment, drive a car, and open bank accounts, and so on.

I’m not opposed to people immigrating to the United States. However, there is a legal way for people who want to immigrate here to do so. They need to follow the law to immigrate here. If they do that, I welcome them. If they break the law and stay here illegally or sneak across the border, they need to face stiff consequences.

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