Monday, March 27, 2006

Illegal immigration solution

Illegal immigration and illegal drugs – similarities and solutions

The current debate over illegal immigration is a very emotional issue. That is why it is often hard to have an honest debate and cut through the noise. I have found it is often helpful to analyze a problem by looking at something else similar with the same attributes and hopefully reach a conclusion or solution that is devoid of the emotional aspects.

How is the illegal drug problem similar to the illegal immigration issue?
Let look at some facts. They are both “illegal” activities. They share the same avenue where most of the traffic comes into our country – the Mexican border.
There is high profit for the people engaged in these activities. There are many victims from the teenagers who are hooked into habitual drug use to the migrant workers who are underpaid exploited. There are violent criminal elements in both activities from drug lords to ethnic gangs. They are both growing problems that challenge the government’s efforts to combat them. In a way, I think the government is ineffective because there is no will to follow through with the tough actions necessary to stop these activities. There are people in power who want the status quo because they are making a huge profit from these illegal activities.

Lets exam the most compelling reason that people often give for having illegal immigrants in our country. They say “we need these workers to do the work that American workers don’t want to do and they provide the cheap labor that drives our economy”.

A comparable argument in the illegal drug trade is that we “the American public” desire the drugs and create the demand so that the illegal activities are providing a service and feeding our habits. If we remove the demand, the problem will go away”. In a matter of speaking, our cravings are the basic cause for the illegal drug trade.

Just as I believe the second argument is totally bogus, I also believe the first premise to be false. It is true that we like cheap labor and we are relying on them in our homes, our restaurants and our fruit and vegetable fields. In fact, I would go as far to say we are “addicted” to them. That is not to say we “need” them or that they are good for our economy. The same can be said for illegal drugs. We can say that some of us are “addicted” to them and they will do almost anything to get them legally or illegally. They are not necessary for our well being. In fact, just the opposite is true.
In the long run, both are bad for our country. Illegal immigration will create a perpetual underclass in our society. Illegal drugs will enslave a portion of our youth to crime and addiction that will have devastating effect on their lives.

Once we recognize the similarities between the two problems, perhaps we can deal with the realities and move towards an honest solution to both problems. They do also share some overlapping solutions. That’s a very good thing.

There are many sides to both issues. There are some who claims that the law is the problem. If we make them legal, then all problems will go away. In the illegal drug case, the claim is that the law makes the cost of drug too high which encourages illegal traffic and induce criminal activities upon the addicts. In the case of illegal immigrants, if they are allowed to come without restrictions “open borders” or they come with a “guest worker” program or we expand legal immigration, then all problems will go away. Is this true?

In my opinion, this is insane. Will you want to allow anyone to use cocaine or crack or LSD or any of the variety of designer drugs without any checks? In the same vain, will you want to open our borders so that anyone who wants to can come here and live?

Once we reach consensus on the problem, we can work towards a real solution without the emotions and the false charges of racism or xenophobia.

In 2006, the illegal drugs have several components – the traffic into the country, the illegal dealings on the streets and the illegal profits by banks and money laundering and the millions of people who are already addicted to these drugs.
In the same token, the illegal immigration has several components – the illegal crossing into our borders, the illegal hiring of un-documented workers and the abuses and burden of our public facilities such as hospitals, and schools and welfare agencies and the estimated 11 million illegal and their families that are already here.

Here is one solution that will help us win the war on drugs and at the time win our country back from illegal aliens and immigration.

1. Secure our borders with the help of our National Guards. This will stop most of the traffic of drugs and illegal immigrants crossing our Southern borders.
2. Deport the illegals and criminals caught and staying in our prisons. Stop the current catch and release policy.
3. Target the institutions that help the current law breakers including the banks and the organized crime businesses that engage in human trafficking and illegal drug activities. They will be fined heavily for breaking existing law.
4. Offer a national registration program that will give current illegals a way to get registered and provide them with legal documentation for both identification and driving privileges. They will need to provide documentation of work and residence and pay a fine for breaking our laws and be placed in the back of the line for application to be permanent residence. In the meantime, they will be issued legal working papers that give them temporary working status. They will be required to pay taxes (FICA and income) instead of being part of the underground economy.
5. Anyone caught without these ids will be given the choice to register or be deported.
6. There must be distinct privileges and legal status enumerated for being a citizen of the US, a permanent resident, a temporary worker and all others. One of the problems with the current system is that there is a blur between a citizen and an alien. It must “mean something” to be a citizen of the US with privileges and civic responsibilities.
7. The government may provide a special incentive for small businesses and farmers who hire registered aliens instead of illegals with false papers. A national clearing house could be instituted for businesses to verify the status of any given applicants. We currently do this for people applying for guns and for credit cards; we can do it for this just as easily.

If we adopt these policies, we would have put a giant dent on stopping illegal immigration and illegal drug trafficking. Over time, our business and economy will adjust and adapt to these new working environment. The end results maybe that the wages will have to rise for some of the low paying jobs. That is a good thing. This will be dictated by the marketplace and not by government mandate such as increasing the minimum wage. I don’t believe that we will suffer a recession. A recent example with the price of gasoline is a good indicator. We have experienced some increases in the price of gasoline due to Katrina and to the global appetite for oil and energy. Yet, our economy and our consumers were able to withstand the price increases and adjust their behavior to accommodate. We will do the same with increasing wages for the migrant farmers and other low skilled laborers.

The real bonus will be that we will have secured our borders so that we can have a real “homeland security” as part of the war on terror.
In the long term, it is really a better deal for the current illegal aliens and their families. They should embrace this policy rather than keeping business as usual.

-Jack Lee
Yorktown Hts. NY

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Iraq war - 3 years

War in Iraq – 3 years later

What is missing from the current debate on Iraq is the comparison between the current Iraq situation and what if Saddam is still in power?

The war in Iraq was a preemptive war. It came about due to a dramatic change in US foreign policy post 9/11. President Bush has made it clear that we are in a post 9/11 world view.
Let’s look at the state of Iraq at this moment:

1. They have had free elections for the first time in their long history.
2. They are living free and women are able to attend school and work outside of the home.
3. They are rebuilding their infra structure with the help of the coalition after years of neglect.
4. The world is safer and has one less despot to deal with.
5. Saddam is in jail and under trial for crimes against humanity.
6. We are fighting an insurgency that is willing to kill innocent people.
7. Iraq does not have any WMD to threaten us and won’t be pursuing them for the future.

Compare this to what Iraq would have been if Saddam was left in power.

1. We will probably still be debating at the UN and passing more resolutions to sanction Iraq.
2. The people of Iraq will be continuing to suffer under Saddam and the sanctions by the West. We will be portrayed as the enemy and accused of starving the children and withholding medicine.
3. The UN oil for food program will still be in operations and bring riches to Saddam and his enablers.
4. Saddam will use the money from the oil to pursue more WMD programs and build more palaces.
5. He will grow stronger with each passing day while the UN and the world community debate at infinitum.
6. Once he has developed a nuclear weapon, we will have to deal with that - just as we are struggling with North Korea and Iran at this very moment.
7. Saddam will be emboldened to stick it to the West and continue to support more suicide bombings in Israel and elsewhere destabilizing the mid east region.

The bottom line is what is a better scenario for the world. Are we better off without Saddam or not? Is the price we pay now worth the result?

A third outcome is possible in Iraq and this has little to do with what we are doing. The Iraqi people could decide to break out into civil war where one group will attempt to over power another group and create a theocracy. This is not what we would prefer but it may be a possible outcome. This has happened in the past in other regions of the world. If the Sunni and the Shites cannot live together in harmony, then they will fight. It would not be pretty and it can get violent. Unfortunately, that is how differences are settled sometimes. Whoever wins in the end, it will still be a stable government – unlike the regime of Saddam. That is the worst case outcome scenario in my opinion but still better than letting Saddam stay in power. What say you – all who are opposed to the current war in Iraq? What is your solution or preference?

-Jack Lee
Yorktown Hts. NY