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Wait a Minute--Man!
Written by Jan Larson
Monday, April 18, 2005

For the past couple of weeks, several hundred citizen volunteers have been patrolling a 23 mile stretch of the Arizona – Mexico border as part of the so-called “Minuteman Project.� Contrary to the dire warnings of opponents, the Minutemen volunteers have not turned this stretch of desert into a killing field as they meted out vigilante justice, but rather have assisted the border patrol in apprehending illegals crossing the border.

The presence of these volunteers has brought illegal border crossings to a virtual halt, which is, of course, the group’s goal.

While the Minuteman Project has focused the media spotlight on the problem of illegal immigration, the ultimate solution to the problem is much more complex than simply putting volunteers in lawn chairs along the border.

Illegal immigration, in general, is a multi-faceted problem that will require a similarly multi-faceted solution. As I see it, there are four classes of illegal immigrants that come into the United States across our southern border:

1. Those seeking employment to better their lives and the lives of their families.

2. Those seeking to benefit from the American welfare state with no desire to contribute to assimilate or otherwise contribute to American society.

3. Those involved in the drug trade and other organized crime activities.

4. Terrorists that would use the porous southern border as an easy access point into the United States.

Those that oppose controls on illegal immigration often point out that illegals (they never use that term) do the work that “Americans won’t do� and such workers contribute a great deal to our economy.

I agree with that conclusion to a point. Americans may not do certain jobs for the same wages paid to illegals, but that doesn’t mean that Americans won’t do those jobs. No landscaping company would have any problem finding Americans willing to mow lawns if lawn-mowing jobs paid $100 per hour.

Illegals compete with unskilled Americans at the lower end of the employment scale and this costs American jobs. Although few would admit it, most Americans don’t mind paying less for landscaping, housing, restaurant meals, hotel rooms and road construction than they would otherwise pay if union workers replaced the illegals working in these industries. In this respect, the labor of illegals does benefit Americans.

The citizens of Arizona recently approved a measure that limits some government services to illegal immigrants and some are pushing for even greater restrictions. These restrictions are designed to make Arizona a less-hospitable destination for illegals seeking to live off the support of Arizona taxpayers.

When the state and/or federal governments stop providing educational, health care or other benefits to illegals, illegals will no longer come here seeking those benefits. Any five-year-old child could figure this out, but it seems too many in government cannot. Those that come to the United States to only seek its bounty without contributing something in return benefit no one but themselves.

Obviously the most dangerous and troubling aspect of porous borders is the easy access into the United States for criminals and terrorists. While people seeking work and even those that would only seek to benefit from American government welfare do not pose a direct threat to the lives of Americans, criminals and terrorists are not so benign.

Since people crossing the border do not divulge their true intentions, it is ludicrous to somehow think that we could prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the United States while allowing “hard working� individuals with noble intentions to walk on in. We simply must take a stand to stop all illegal border crossings.

Some say that we should work with Mexico to develop a comprehensive immigration policy. That sounds nice in theory, but the simple fact is that the Mexican economy cannot support their population leaving many to live in poverty. It is in Mexico’s interest to export as many people to the United States as possible and have those people send dollars back to Mexico. It is foolish to count on Mexico to be of any help with the illegal immigration problem. It is simply not in the interest of Mexico to do so.

There is no denying that Americans do, on balance, benefit from the low-wage, manual labor currently done by illegals. For that reason, a well thought out guest worker program is desirable, but we cannot afford to let hundreds of thousands of illegals, honest and hard working along with criminal and terrorist, to pour into this country year after year. We must seal the border and stop the immigration chaos.

The Minuteman Project has demonstrated, at least on a small scale, that order can be restored without spending billions. But even if it did cost billions, what is the cost of doing nothing? A terrorist attack by someone entering from the south may be the price we must pay to find out.

About the Writer: Jan A. Larson is currently employed in private industry in Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska, a Master of Science degree from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Colorado State University.