To arrive at a sound solution to a problem, we need to analyze its root causes. Addressing the causes of a problem ultimately eliminates (or significantly reduces) the problem; addressing the effects is a never-ending battle. As long as the underlying causes remain, the problem will keep reasserting itself, circumventing whatever solutions are implemented.
The border fence addresses the effects of the illegal immigration problem, but not the root cause. To stop illegal immigration, we need to understand why it exists. What is it that attracts illegal aliens to the U.S.? The majority are here for one of the following reasons.
- Potential for citizenship.
- Criminal activities.
- They’re already here; why leave?
Once the causes have been ascertained, the path to a solution becomes clear. Don’t attract them, and they won’t come.
- Jobs. A guest worker program that provides temporary permits for seasonal workers. This not only benefits the guest workers by providing the jobs they seek, but also benefits our economy (see A Free Market Approach to Illegal Immigration), because labor laws, unions, and entitlement programs have undermined the viability of the agricultural labor market for citizens.
- Citizenship. No anchor babies. No amnesty. All applicants for citizenship must go through the legal immigration process. No shortcuts or special treatment for those who thumb their noses at it. If anything, illegal entry into the country should disqualify the perpetrator from eligibility for citizenship in the future. We cannot discourage illegal behavior by rewarding it.
- Entitlements. No public assistance to non-citizens (even if they have children). Require proof of citizenship for school enrollment. When an illegal alien turns up in an emergency room, treat them, and then deport them. It would be inhumane to turn them away without treatment, but the fact that a lawbreaker may be ill is no reason to suspend the law.
- Crime. Immediate deportation on completion of prison sentence. Capital punishment for capital offenses. Repeat offenders, who have been previously deported, should serve additional time to discourage them from coming back again. (All prisoners who are capable of working should be required to work for their keep in prison.)
- Happenstance. Opportunistic deportation of others. Deport them if and when they come to the attention of the government, for whatever reason.
To eliminate illegal immigration, remove the reasons people come here illegally, and make the consequences outweigh the rewards. It’s cheaper and more effective than a fence. A fence is a “band-aid” solution. If we address the underlying problem, the expensive band-aid won’t be necessary.