The caravan’s coming, the caravan’s coming, and no, it is not the end of the world, but yes, it does represent a problem deleterious to the state of the union.
We’ve already got something like 300,000 people a year conniving their way across the border and we know from Gallup polling there’s another 150 million eager to live here. Let this caravan through and there could be another and another and, finally, maybe one 100 miles long or who knows.
In the meantime, there are questions to deal with.
Does our sovereignty mean anything? Are we allowed to decide who gets in and who doesn’t? Legally, we right now let in 1 million immigrants a year, and much of that’s to the good. But there are limits to what can be beneficially absorbed and, at some point, we’re pretty much a mess and the last, best hope of mankind will have become hopeless.
The people headed our way from Honduras are often referred to as refugees, and we allow a certain number of them entry. But they don’t seem to be refugees at all. As defined under the law, a refugee is someone persecuted by his or her government because of race or religion or some other disliked designation. These are poor people, probably suffering people, but that alone does not a refugee make even though our techniques for getting at the truth of it all pretty much keep the truth from counting.
You see, if these people cross the border, if they get into the United States, they are then due a court proceeding to determine their status. The problem is that these sessions are not done in the snap of your fingers and there are only so many judges. And so you let the migrants go and say get back in a year or two for their cases to be considered and they then disappear never to be heard from again.
President Donald Trump has this idea of calling in the military to make sure they do not cross the border, that they stay in Mexico, but the last thing anyone wants is the shooting of guns, and this trick has been tried before without success. We’ll see what happens, and maybe, at some point, Congress will surprise itself by rewriting the laws to something more sensible, and then we hear of another approach. We will make Honduras and other Central American countries into jim-dandy societies, and then no one will want to leave.
If history teaches us anything, however, it teaches us that nation-building does not work, and foreign aid doesn’t, either, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton among others has shown. Generally speaking, the aid either makes despots rich or it provides free goods or services that get in the way of entrepreneurial, flourishing capitalist development.
What does work is free trade, and the more we can get rid of tariffs and subsidies and trade to mutual benefit, the better off we all are. A wall? Well, it’s likely not the best or cheapest way, buy we certainly do need better border security and we also need e-verify systems for those overstaying their legal entries
We also need to reform our legal system to emphasize merit instead of family connections. Imagine that you own a business and ask yourself would you just want to hire relatives of current employees or people with the skills you need. We are more and more high-tech, there are all kinds of positions empty because of lack of skills; filling those jobs will boost manufacturing and increase national wealth. By the way, it is just as compassionate to hire the skilled as the unskilled or those without relatives here as those with them.
The horror would be the open borders some Democrats seem to seek or the abolition of enforcement officers for the crime of heeding the law.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.