The reaction to Arizona's recent laws to regarding illegal aliens reminds me of when I was a kid and stepped in a ground hornets' nest. That was a memorable experience to say the least. The hornets were as angry as opponents of that legislation are today. I suppose any comment I make here will risk a similar reaction no matter which side I support. However I shall attempt to inject some reasoning into what is now a very emotional topic.
First, we should agree on two things:
(a) Border control should be a federal responsibility, and
(b) The federal government has shirked that responsibility. A sieve holds water about as well as our southern border stops illegal entry.
Some those who enter the country illegally are hard workers and are the type of people we should want as immigrants if we could only provide them a good way to come here legally. However others are a danger to our country and our way of life. They import methamphetamine and other drugs, and many are criminals. The MS 13 gang, imported from Central America, is one of the most violent gangs in the country today. We don't need imported criminals, we have too many of our own already.
This situation cries for solution. Unfortunately neither party has the guts to take the necessary action, and that has been the case since the Reagan Administration. That administration presented a plan of getting control of the border while providing a path to citizenship. The government promised that the borders would be controlled and that illegals who entered the country after that time would not be granted legal status. The plan was reasonable and became law. However just planning does not get things done. Only the path to citizenship was ever put into action. Illegal aliens continued to ignore both the border and U.S. law. Congress again tried to legalize the illegals, a proposal stopped only by massive citizen opposition. The federal government broke its promise to the citizens.
Justifiably we as citizens feel betrayed. Why should we trust the government to do it any better now?
Is the Arizona law an act of desperation? Probably. Many residents of that state are desperate. The drug cartels control many of the “coyotes” who smuggle illegals through that state. This is no longer a few men crossing the border to find work picking fruit or milking cows. Yes, some of the illegals will do that but much of the traffic involves drugs and gang members. The coyotes are now often armed and willing to use force. U.S. citizens living in that area fear for their property and their lives. This amounts to an armed invasion.
What is to be done? First we have to face the fact that it won't be easy. Both parties fear a backlash from Hispanic voters if they take effective action. Only a massive citizen movement has a chance of forcing congress and the president to act. That action should start on two fronts:
1. We must get control of our borders. That must include something beyond the “catch and release” program too often used today. And we must deal effectively with the coyotes, the people smugglers who help with illegal entry. Even their customers regard them as the scum of the earth. They enrich themselves with human traffic and often regard women customers as fair game for rape.* People smuggling should be treated as a serious offense with appropriate punishment. In fact it is likely that the Mexican government would cooperate with us in attempting to put the coyotes out of business since those smugglers cause plenty of problems in Mexico as well.
2. We must provide a reasonable immigration path for the type of people we want to admit. Today, someone in Mexico or Central America can wait ten years for approval to immigrate here legally. Meanwhile his less scrupulous neighbors hire coyotes and enter illegally. That keeps out the best while allowing the worst to come here.
If the federal government will move effectively to control the border and to provide a reasonable path for the immigrants we want, Arizona will have no need to institute its own program. Then after a couple of years of watching that effective program, we might be able to trust the government to do something with the illegals already in the country.
We must insist that our representatives deal effectively with this problem.
*I speak fluent Spanish and have talked with many in the Hispanic culture. I find that they mistrust the coyotes and call them “mala gente,” bad people. It was from them that I learned of the propensity of the coyotes to rape their female customers.