Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Donald Trump has made quite a splash with his proposal to build a two thousand mile wall between the United States and Mexico. He makes it sound easy enough. Heck, the Chinese built the Great Wall of China more than two thousand years ago. They didn’t even have bull dozers.

I got to thinking about Mr. Trump’s Wall, and quite frankly, I don’t like it.

It seems to me that walls are for prisons and dictators. I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I hear a recording of Ronald Reagan’s famous speech in Berlin:

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!”

There is perhaps no more explicit definition of freedom or personal liberty than the ability to go where you want to go. The history of the human race is largely a story of migration. God gave us eyes to see the horizon and legs to get us from here to there.

The story of our nation is a tale of travelers; of pilgrims and refugees, adventurers and escapees, the ostracized and the ambitious.

The Statue of Liberty says it best: Give me your tired and your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free…

The Berlin Wall didn’t keep Westerners out or Easterners in. It just made getting in or out harder and more dangerous. People are going to go where they want to go. Somehow.

We used to call illegal immigrants from Mexico ‘wetbacks,’ the idea being that they swam across the Rio Grande to get into the United States. I puzzled about that. A couple of years ago, Polly and I vacationed with friends at El Cabo del Sol. We showed our passports and we were welcomed to Mexico. Can’t a Mexican vacation in California as easily?

So I Googled it. Not a very productive way to spend a morning. The Immigration Laws of the United States are a horrible example of the cancer of bureaucracy. ICE, ESTA, VWP, BCC, B1, B2, H1B, USCIS, OCC, INA, CFR, ELIS, I-90, I-539, SAWP, TFW, not to mention EP, VEE, CEM, APHIS, EP, DACA and USDA; the initials and acronyms are enough to boggle the brain.

The fact is that the border between the United States and Mexico is the busiest national border in the world, with roughly 350 million people crossing each year. The San Ysidro Port of Entry between Tijuana and San Diego alone recorded 8.4 million pedestrians and 12.3 million vehicles crossing in 2011.

Like the border between Detroit and Windsor, there are many people who cross daily to go to work or school.

Getting a Visa or a Border Crossing Card that will allow someone from Mexico to enter the United States is not difficult. The U.S. has issued over 4 million electronic Border Crossing Cards and continues to issue about 100,000 a month. They authorize the holder to enter our country for a short visit up to 30 days, the length of which is specified by the immigration officer when they enter the country. If they overstay the intended visit, the card will be cancelled and getting another one will be a problem.

Border Crossing Cards are good for ten years of short 30-day visits, but they limit how far the visitor can go into our country: 25 miles in California and Texas, 55 miles in New Mexico and 75 miles in Arizona.

Lots of people in Mexico want to come to America. Can you blame them? Our constitution requires the Congress to adopt uniform immigration and naturalization laws. It also requires the President to see that the laws are faithfully executed. If the President and the Congress do what the Constitution requires of them, there should be no great problem at our borders.

Immigration from Mexico, both legal and illegal has slowed in the past five years. Perhaps it is because of the economy, both here and in Mexico. That brings me to another pillar in Mr. Trump’s platform. Someone should tell him that if Ford Motor builds a plant in Mexico and provides a number of good jobs for the people who live there, fewer Mexicans will want to come to the U.S.A. in search of gainful employment.

Being a business man, he ought to know that a free enterprise economy is not a zero sum game. A rising tide lifts all boats.

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