Bored With Border Security?

We understand who, where and why. How is all politics.

3 mins read
immigrants at night

I want to give you permission to be bored with border security.

Not because it doesn’t deserve our attention, but because politicians derive political benefits from the predictable reactions to the vilification of victims on both sides of our southern border with Mexico—farmers and immigrants. Perpetuating chaos on our border yields the desired results politicians exploit to get your vote—because it works. 

A little history of all this is in order. 

I easily recall the recent history of the Fours and the Eight. The currently proposed bipartisan legislation (H.R. 815) took four months of negotiation and only four days for support for the bill to collapse among Republicans. And it has been four decades since the last comprehensive immigration reform was enacted under President Reagan. However, Congress redoubled the effort at immigration reform in 2013 under President Obama when the so-called bipartisan “Gang of Eight” proposed legislation to make it harder for employers to hire the undocumented while creating a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants of every status.

Pythagoras would go crazy.

The effort failed, and that is how, more than a decade later, we have arrived at the current stalemate – by design…

And the Beat Goes On

Encounters with immigrants by Border Security were 1.7 million in 2021, continued to increase to 2.4 million in 2022 and 2.5 million in 2023, and are expected to be 3.1 million in 2024. However, in the last year of President Trump’s term, encounters with immigrants fell to 458,000. It was more of a “mental wall” than a physical one. 

And both political parties pandered to their own constituencies. Trump promised to build a wall paid for by Mexico, that never materialized. While Biden’s promises of immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship didn’t either. Clearly, the amount of immigration, legal and illegal, depends on who is in office and which political party controls the presidency. It always does.

Currently, the proposed legislation provides for a “Border Emergency Authority” to enable the government in power to summarily deport migrants who enter outside ports of entry without permitting them to apply for asylum, delegating deportations to agents at the border. Worth noting, the bill defines “encounters” to exclude apprehensions of unaccompanied migrant children.

The federal government has a lot of discretion over when to implement this new emergency summary-deportation process and does not require it to be publicly announced. It’s no secret, it can be kept secret – classified. ICE would receive funding to increase detention beds from 34,000 to 50,000, an increase of 37 percent, with funding to hire 4,300 new asylum officers as well. The bill also includes $1.4 billion for cities and states that are providing critical services to newcomers and would expedite work permits for people in the country who qualify.

However, there is nothing in the proposed legislation addressing the root cause of immigration, namely political instability, particularly in Central America. And there is no pathway to citizenship for Dreamers or the undocumented in this plan. 

Legal migration would also increase by 13 percent for employment-based visas and 7 percent for family-based visas. An acknowledgment of the low birthrate in the U.S. is resulting in labor shortages across the nation. This is being borne out by the Florida experiment to force the undocumented to seek work out of state. Already the agriculture and construction industries are experiencing severe labor shortages throughout the peninsula state.     

There is nothing in the proposed legislation addressing the root cause of immigration, namely political instability, particularly in Central America.

 A brief history of guest worker programs in the U.S. may or may not provide insight into a possible solution to our immigration and worker shortage problems.

The Immigration Act of 1917 contained a provision granting entry to “temporary” workers from Western Hemisphere nations who would otherwise be considered inadmissible, namely Mexicans. When the program ended, illegal immigration began. By 1922, of the 76,862 Mexican workers admitted to the United States, only 34,922 returned to Mexico.  And yet Congress enacted the Mexican Labor Program from 1942 to 1947 — more commonly known as the Bracero Program and then, the H-1B program for skilled workers in 1952, the L-1 program for intra-company transfers in 1970, and the O-1 program for individuals with extraordinary abilities in 1990. 

Of the nation’s 46.2 million foreign-born population in 2022 (13.9 percent of the total population), 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants represent about 3 percent of the total U.S. population and 22 percent of the foreign-born population. 

As of 2022, 29.4 percent of Pasadena’s residents were born outside of the United States, which is higher than the national average of 13.6 percent. That statistic includes Mayor Victor Gordo.

In 2021, the percentage of foreign-born citizens in Pasadena was 30.6 percent. Los Angeles County is home to nearly 3.5 million immigrants, over a third of the county’s total population, according to the American Community Survey (ACS), second only to New York City. 

In any case, all the relatively positive proposals to secure the southern border have amounted to another stalemate.

If and until we stop reacting to fear-mongering politicians and demand solutions, nothing will change at the border. Period. It is just that simple.

We may have a new opportunity after the election in November. But until then, expect nada.

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Casey Coss

Casey is an Emmy-winning television producer and entrepreneur. A proud gay man, he hosts the "Casey's Cause" podcast on Pasadena Media. When he is not solving the issues of the day, he is walking his dogs, Mac and Rudy. Email: [email protected]

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