Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A group of mayors from border towns in the US state of Texas has called for sections of the Rio Grande to be dammed as a deterrent to illegal immigration.

The mayors want to deepen and widen the natural border with Mexico through a series of low dams or weirs across the desert flood plain. (source)
Come on, bigger river, bigger fence, none of that crap's gonna work. What has to change is the culture in Mexico, both political and economic. People aren't just accidentally falling across the border. They are making a conscious effort to get into the US.

Why? Because there is something here they want. Freedom.

Freedom for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Freedom of speech, religion, freedom from self-incrimination, etc. The whole ball of wax.

My father-in-law was born in southern Mexico and moved to Tijuana as a young teenager. He tells me stories all the time about officials with their hands out. In a lot of these countries it is impossible to get something done without a bribe. When the police pull you over, whether you were doing something wrong or not, you can get out of trouble for a small gratuity. You are threatened with jail if you don't pay up.

When I was in college, there were a lot of students from Malaysia majoring in civil engineering. I asked why. Turns out that you need a permit for just about anything you want done in a city in Malaysia. Telephone? Permit. Hook up water? Permit. Turn on electricity? Permit.

The civil engineers were in charge of the permits. Guess what. You had to pay a bribe to get the permit. Imagine that you move from one apartment to another. You call the phone company and your phone gets transferred. No problem getting your utilities turned on. You have to pay an installation fee, but no bribes. In Malaysia, Mexico and many other countries, you have to pay a bribe just to have the privilege of paying the installation fee.

Mexico has a history of limits on private ownership of property, government takeover of private property and business and a culture of corruption. Until these issues are settled, people will want to come to the US. We aren't going to be able to keep them out with fences, swollen rivers or Minutemen. We can make it more difficult, we can cause more people to die trying, but we won't stop it.

We need to help Mexico change. We need to control immigration better. Let those people in, just do it in a controlled fashion. Some type of guest program. I don't think they should be allowed to get on the dole. If they can't support themselves, send them home.

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