Bordering on illegal
Most of my life I have been aware of a problem with illegal immigration. Years ago I remember an ambulance went by with siren blazing and it took half a day to find and reassemble my apple picking crew. The usual turnaround for a sheepherder or farm worker from deportation to return was about a week.Recently however, the illegal problem has risen to news-dominating proportions. I suppose there are several reasons. Politicians desperately looking for political leverage is certainly a major one. Another reason is the rise of terrorism and the concern over porous borders that could make us vulnerable. There are other factors driving the protests and the rallies. The news media would like to make believe that the rallies and demonstrations are spontaneous. I would challenge the media to expose those behind-the-scenes organizations.There also are more subtle forces creating the economic vacuum that is sucking foreign workers into our economy. The obvious disparity in the economy and living conditions between the U.S. and Mexico certainly ranks at the top. As a farmer, I was aware that the Mexican farm workers sent the bulk of their earnings home to their family. This constituted a good foreign aid program because it bypassed the political system that otherwise consumes foreign aid so that only a small percentage ever reaches the needy. Certainly Mexico does not want to stop that flow of income.Our monetary system has created a condition where Americans must have a full-time job to maintain housing, transportation and taxes. In most cases both the husband and wife must work to pay the mortgage. This pretty much cuts them out of the seasonal work picture that is especially important to agriculture. Local women used to work in the harvest to buy that refrigerator or pay ahead on the rent in case winter work for the husband was slow. Now they have to work full time just to keep up. Farmers get a bad rap, but they are providing housing, transportation and often meals in addition to the so-called “low wages.” We paid pickers by the bushel so a good worker could make really good money.Another factor affecting availability of part-time labor is the fact that American young people have a poor work ethic. The schools used to adjust their start times to accommodate local agriculture needs, but now they couldn’t care less.I believe that one of the unintended and unforeseen consequences of abortion is the loss of about 40 million potential workers, which increases the vacuum. Just a side note; think of the effect this loss has on social security. Our economy would collapse if we deported all the illegals, but the system needs to be brought under control. A good guest-worker program with a smart card that allows easy border crossing might be part of the solution. Also, a pay deduction on immigrant workers to establish a fund for medical and other emergency needs would relieve our other systems. Children born to illegals in the U.S. should not receive automatic citizenship unless one of the parents is a citizen. In short, we need to tighten the borders, expedite the guest-worker programs and smooth out the process for citizenship. Give the states more control and less for the federal programs, which are always expensive, wasteful, and inefficient.The solution won’t be easy, but we need to quit the political blame game and deal with the problem.Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.
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