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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Our View

Our other ‘foreign’ war

Americans are engaged in a "war" with themselves that would resemble a laughable Keystone Kop Komedy if not so politically contentious.

Immigration policy, that is what, and mostly what not to do about aliens streaming through holes in the 1,951-mile border with Mexico.

What passes for U.S. immigration policy is ludicrous. On the one hand, alluring incentives for illegals to brave arrest or even death to find work and homes in the United States are tolerated, even as Washington doles out hundreds of millions of dollars to the Border Patrol to stop the surge of border crossers chasing the scent of a better life.

Some border crossers have been deported as many as four times.

Critics say President Bush’s so-called "amnesty" plan allowing illegal aliens to remain if they sign up while others would be allowed to enter with proof of jobs has encouraged border crossings.

Furthermore, employers seeking low-wage labor defy the poorly enforced law and hire illegals for jobs that Americans shun. Illegals also can count on medical aid in most urban areas.

Smugglers charging $1,200 a head and up to sneak aliens into the country add to the influx.

Since October last year, 300,000 illegals have been stopped at the border. And because Arizona’s Sonoran desert border is the toughest to patrol, the Border Patrol expects record deaths in the boiling 130-degree summer heat, topping last year’s 154 deaths.

The most obvious solution would be reform in Mexico, whose economy, corruption and predatory exploitation of the poor are incentives to flee unspeakable conditions.

Reform may be expecting too much, however, of a country perennially protecting a caste system. So, the burden rests with U.S. policymakers and law enforcement.

Are local politicians and Washington willing to rigorously crack down on U.S. employers of illegal workers, punish them and send workers back to their homelands, then try recruiting Americans for low-skill jobs with higher pay?

Or will the absurdity continue—the implied better life in America for anyone daring to risk arrest or death, while Border Patrol officers risk their lives to stop job-hunters at the international border?

With an estimated 8 to 12 million illegals in the country now, some politicians may not see a problem as much as a juicy bloc of potential voters.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.