The Daily Demarche
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Think Globally, Act Locally.
Every once in a while our friends on the left come up with a good slogan. I am very fond of the one used for today's title as it relates to foreign policy. As you all know I like to comment occasionally on domestic policy, although I try to focus on foreign policy and foreign affairs. Of course there are a couple of places where these two policies collide- primarily along the borders with Canada and Mexico. Of primary interest to me today (and in the past on this blog truth be told) is the border with Mexico. There are really two reasons for this- the first is that we are being invaded from the south, not the north, and the second is that the southern invaders are not just Mexicans- they have back up all the way down to the Antarctic, more or less.

When it comes to our southern border the men & women who have the thankless task of "closing the border" and "halting illegal immigration" speak of two categories of illegal entrants: Mexicans and OTMs- Other Than Mexicans. OTM's may be Chinese or Pilipino or any other nationality- but the vast preponderance are from South of South of the Border:

Mexican citizens accounted for the largest group of apprehensions in 2003 with 956,963 (91 percent) of the over one million apprehensions. Honduran citizens accounted for the second-largest group with 16,632 apprehensions (two percent), followed by citizens of El Salvador with 11,757 (just over one percent), and citizens of Guatemala with 10,355 (just under one percent).

About nine or ten months ago I posted a piece called "The Tortilla Curtain" addressing the proposed non-amnesty to integrate illegals into American society. Not much has changed since then- except that the Iraq War is still on, gas prices are through the roof and two hurricanes have wrecked big stretches of the country.

So why is it that we are still talking about rewarding the illegal actions of millions of people? From the Financial Times last week (subscription required):

News that President George W. Bush is likely to press ahead with reform of US immigration laws is remarkable in several respects. In the poisonously partisan political climate his administration has done so much to create, the proposals command some cross-party support, while sharply dividing Republicans in Congress and in the country. Equally, as his leadership ratings plummet in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and flagship measures such as Social Security reform flounder, it is surprising Mr Bush is willing to expend political capital on an unpopular cause.

I think unpopular is a bit of an understatement. The GOP may be chasing the Latin vote, but at what cost? Illegal immigrants cost the U.S. $10,000,000,000 a year according to the Center for Immigration Studies- and that is a net figure, offset by any taxes illegal immigrant families might pay. How far would that $10 billion go in helping the hurricane struck areas recover?

Keep in mind also that the figure cited above is not counting the remittances that are sent from the United States to the various home countries. In 2001- the last year I could find solid data on- over $28,000,000,000 in remittances were sent out of the U.S. (BEGIN RANT: That same year we donated $10,884,000,000 in official "foreign" aid -not to mention the $15,600,000,000 that was donated privately by the people of America, money we NEVER get credit for on the international scene by the way- as puts it: "the generosity of the American people is far more impressive than their government" - one again completely missing the point that the PEOPLE are the United States- not the government. END RANT)

What is my point, you might ask? Good question.

The United States of America has long been a "safety valve" for the poor of Latin America and their corrupt, insipid governments- and even the American Left is willing to admit it. That is a fine and noble idea- but why should we continue to absorb the results of the failed policies of our neighbors- at a cost to our own people? When your neighbor loses his job because his boss was incompetent and the business failed do you take on all of the cost of maintaining him and his family? Of course not. So why do we think it is good policy to do so for entire nations? We have been absorbing the failures of Latin America for far to long- at too great a cost. To add insult to injury many of the people and leaders of the nations we provide the most assistance to are virulently anti-American.

Within Latin America as a whole, resurgent anti-Americanism is having similar effects. It is strengthening the opponents of economic reform, fiscal responsibility, free trade and economic competitiveness. These opponents lose no opportunity to point out that the United States favors all these policies. It is giving new life to anti-democratic leaders who use anti-Americanism to generate political support or deflect public opinion from their policy failures, as in Venezuela. It is making it more difficult to take collective action against murderous guerrillas determined to overthrow the democratic government of Colombia. It is helping to undermine the political consensus in favor of fighting drugs, as in Bolivia. And at a time when most of Latin America’s presidents, including the new president of Brazil, must govern with fragmented legislatures, resurgent anti-Americanism is seriously undermining their ability to pass labor, pension, judicial and many other needed reforms.

We need to take a long hard look at our policies, both foreign and domestic, and our neighbors in the region. Illegal immigration is costing us billions of dollars, wrecking property along the border and potentially a threat to our national security. In light of the President's resurgent interest in an amnesty (call it whatever you want) and the current push for fiscal reform, I once again I propose the following "Five Step Plan" for immigration reform:

1. Establish a more secure employment document- the Social Security card does not work.
2. Punish American firms that hire illegal workers- this is the most important step.
3. Revise and expand the H2 visa category- not just for Mexicans, but for all, and require that issuance only occur in the country of origin of the alien.
4. Require legal workers to pay into Medicaid, and deny public benefits to illegal aliens found in America.
5. Reduce the amount of foreign aid granted to any country by a set or variable amount based on the costs associated with each illegal immigrant detained/treated/deported.

The question is; are we, the American people, ready to demand a change that makes sense, or is it time to take a lesson from the EU and follow in Spain's footsteps?

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

A blog by members of the State Department Republican Underground- conservative Foreign Service Officers serving overseas commenting on foreign policy and global reactions to America.
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