Opinion: 4 Pragmatic Ways to Eradicate the Border Crisis
- Decimate the welfare state
Most immigrants, especially undocumented ones, come to the US for economic opportunity. One of the main problems people have with illegal immigrants is that some come here to be dependent on welfare, while not contributing as much in taxes relative to the typical citizen. The solution to this problem is not to try and handpick who can benefit from our welfare, but rather to decrease the welfare state overall. The government should not be attracting people that come here to live off of other people’s labor (whether they are born here or not). We should not allow welfare to go to illegal immigrants and ultimately should not have any type of welfare for able-bodied people that replaces a job or family member. This should be obvious: don’t give immigrants an incentive to be dependent on the welfare state or to be illegal. We should not promise government healthcare to illegal immigrants like most 2020 Democrat front runners did, and we should especially not give any added bonuses to being undocumented rather than documented. The welfare state is perhaps the biggest and most important factor in attracting harmful immigration, and getting rid of it comes with numerous benefits and justifications such as increased fiscal health of the US government and less dependence on governments (which are inherently prone to shutdowns and corruption scandals).
2. End the failed war on drugs
By legalizing or decriminalizing all drugs, the border becomes much safer and more transparent. Drug smugglers now become trade opportunities, and people will not have the incentive to hide their motives or goods. Americans will not be dependent on other countries for drugs, and usage overall could decrease as it did when Portugal underwent massive decriminalization of drugs. This allows us to focus efforts on truly violent criminals while stimulating our economy with newfound medicine and the recreational drug industry coming from Central and South America. Ending the drug war both will decrease the number of illegal immigrants trying to sneak across the border, and will simultaneously reduce child trafficking, cartel violence, and drug theft at the border. Do not forget: governments fight the war on drugs as well, often killing and incarcerating its own citizens for it. Having drugs legal simply reduces the need for people to sneak drugs in the US and neutralizes threats from the black market; the flow of traffic across the border becomes less sensitive and the decrease in violence would simultaneously lead to fewer people coming to the US seeking safety.
3. Make productive visas extremely accessible for eligible people
This one is simple to implement. We should simply allow as many workers (or students) as possible to enter our country if they are non-violent. This means removing limits on the number of work visas we can give out and decreasing arbitrary barriers such as application/interview fees and bureaucratic documentation that stop law-abiding people from being employed. For example, the H-2B cap is at 66,000 visas per fiscal year. Unfortunately, towards the end of 2019, President Trump’s administration proposed nearly doubling the cost to attain U.S. citizenship while adding DACA renewal and asylum-seeking fees. To some people’s dismay, lowering fees means increased competition in the labor market. However, I argue that we would much rather have capable people work here than have them sneak into the US and live off welfare or work without paying certain taxes. It is also important to note that many of these temporary, construction and agricultural jobs are not jobs most Americans desire or are willing to do for low pay. In 2017, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released an immigration study indicating the negative impact on wages and employment from immigration is initially small and then, eventually, is actually reversed over generations. It concludes immigration overall is positive for long term growth while another article combining Pew Research data points indicates some industries may be dependent specifically on current illegal immigrants. The only immigrants to be considered illegal should be violent criminals or others that infringe on rights; people solely seeking work shouldn’t be stopped by law from entering. Lifting visa restrictions would decrease illegal immigration because potential undocumented workers would be more inclined to obtain a visa legally and enter formally.
4. Stop creating refugees with our foreign policy
The United States of America has hundreds of military bases and operations across the globe. It is involved in any major country you can name. As of recent history, the US drops over 20,000 bombs every year. This has happened under Trump and Obama and has resulted in hundreds of families being displaced in the Middle East. Even outside of the Middle East, the US has military operations and conducts foreign influence in most other nations. By dropping bombs or destabilizing governments, The United States is indirectly creating its own problems by creating refugees that come to the US, especially ones in Central America that aim straight for the US in search of peace and stability. The solution to this is relatively straightforward but difficult to convince a president to do. It would require cutting quantities of bombs and weapons being cut from funding and bringing the troops home. While these changes may make the US safer and more fiscally accountable, it is an unpopular move since it requires cutting military funding that makes the US seem weaker militarily. Nonetheless, even with billions of dollars of cuts, the US would still have the most expensive and strongest military. The main goal should be to protect liberties and ban bombings and drone strikes that would kill innocent civilians. With these steps, the number of refugees and enemies trying to come in would plummet, ceteris paribus.
These solutions would dramatically decrease the amount of illegal immigration that occurs while expanding freedoms, boosting fiscal health, and reducing violent tensions globally. Pragmatically, we would see an instant alleviation of the strain on immigration courts and our prison population. There are improvements that could be made on the actual southern border, such as privatizing more of the border or making legal ports of entry easier, but these remedies are addressing overall immigration in addition to the border. These four actions would have resounding benefits across almost every industry economically and do not require outrageous “stimulus spending” or increased taxes to fund. Even if Congress wouldn’t cooperate, a U.S. president could achieve these reasonable, overwhelmingly positive goals with a couple of executive orders if it was a priority. I should stress that this is not my ideal immigration solution, but it’d be a huge step in the right direction. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, and it does not require a Democrat or Republican solution.