It’s simple: people come here illegally because the United States offers better opportunities than they had where they were living before. Even after you include the risk of dying while trying to enter the country illegally, the risk of being caught while trying to get in illegally and the risk of being caught while working illegally, an estimated 12 million people have decided that these are risks are worth the potential payoff.
The relationship between illegal aliens and the United States reminds me of the osmosis lesson from high school. “Osmosis is the net flow of water through a semi-permeable membrane that is driven by a difference in concentration of solute on either side.” Water flows from the side with the low concentration of solutions to the side with high concentration of solutions. Equilibrium is established once both sides have equal concentrations of solutions.
The influx of illegal immigrants is due to the higher relative concentration of opportunity (on the U.S. side) and a relatively permeable membrane (the border).
Any of three changes could diminish the incentive to cross the border illegally -- an increase in opportunity in other countries; a decrease in opportunity for illegal immigrants in the United States or creation of a less-penetrable membrane.
Over the long term, each of these areas needs to be addressed to create a stable immigration pattern.
Enforcing current immigration law would result in lower opportunity for illegal immigrant workers. Illegal immigrants leave their families and brave long treks in the desert or over mountains to reach the United States because they know they can find work here.
Our current enforcement might be termed the “wink and a nod” enforcement. People talk about how employers should enforce immigration law, but then turn their heads, and wink and nod, as a lawn service, painting company, cleaning service or installation crew staffed by illegal aliens working for a subcontractor does the work.
The second area to address is border security. The simple fact that millions of people have entered our country illegally is proof that our borders are not secure.
Count me among the millions of people in the United States who want secure borders. It would be helpful to know who is entering our country and whom we should keep out.
However, I am not quite convinced that we should install a fence.