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The AWOL Border Fence By: Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amid the almost wholly pervasive media attention directed towards Election Day and the evolving worldwide economic jolt, recession or depression, however it turns out, the news is quieter about immigration.  If the media were noisier on the subject, the confusion and countervailing forces would be difficult to report.  This commentary has explored, perhaps excessively, aspects of our lawful and daunting unlawful immigration - six times this year alone. All such material is available on the website, www.freecongress.org.

The latest developments are worthy of attention but difficult to analyze, much less to prophesy. Considering unlawful immigration has been estimated to have cost Americans $346 billion in 2007, or $9,000 per taxpayer, and for cultural and other reasons, a bit more discussion seems warranted.

"Fence" and "Visa" might be pertinent headings for the current confusion.

Some 670 miles of pedestrian and vehicular fence are supposed to be built on the Mexican border. Absent a substantial increase in border patrol, perhaps even use of some military, how effective that fence would be if fully constructed and fully manned remains to be seen.

Exactly how much is completed and how much is now under active construction is unclear.

Also unclear is the projected level of completion by Jan. 20, 2009, when, if polls translate to votes, we would inaugurate a president even less enthusiastic and less persistent about stopping unlawful immigration than President George W. Bush. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff currently is estimating that between 90 and 95 percent of the fence will be built or merely under construction by Inauguration Day.  In sum, it will be nowhere near reasonably effective. Who knows what the federal government's unlawful-immigration tolerance, even encouragement, level will be next year.

What about visas for allegedly lawful immigrants? More delinquency - or benefit to illegals, however one cares to phrase it. A (long overdue) United States Citizenship and Immigration Services study, predicated upon a sampling, reveals that about 13 percent of employer requests for so-called H-1B visas were fraudulent and 7 percent contained technical violations.  Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-IL, are looking into this phenomenon.

Needless to say, the usual leftist coterie is in varying degrees of opposition to any curtailment of unlawful immigration, some of them in effect contending - can you believe it? - that enforcement of the law violates human rights, adversely affects labor, so on. There also is labor-union agitation, arguing in effect that enforcement of the law harms workers. There likewise is some organized business agitation because employers, and especially small businesses which apparently are the greater culprits, are not supposed to be burdened by investigation and/or adherence to law.

Of course, as the ever-prescient de Tocqueville would have predicted, there is litigation.

At present, as a consequence of the economic jolt and rise in unemployment, some unquantifiable percentage of those people, mostly Hispanic or Latino, who unlawfully would immigrate are staying home.

That downturn could continue as long as our American economy is distressed inasmuch as many poor people who unlawfully would come here wisely, if sadly for them, are remaining jobless at home rather than here. This development obviously is no part of a long-range means to curtail unlawful immigration.

Confusion and countervailing forces as they are and, notwithstanding Secretary Chertoff's efforts, the next president and the 111th Congress will see the problem. The risk is that they minimize or ignore it.

Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.

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