Most of Us Ignored the First Two – Until the Third One Affected All of Us
Its All About People
We have had two long-running, serious – and interrelated problems for decades. The third one is a bit more recent. All three revolve around people – what people want and how people treat each other on a national and personal level.
The first of these is border security. Ignore the nonsense of the Trumpists; they actually made the problem worse, with their infantile focus on a mythical wall. But setting that aside, it is a fair concern that hundreds of thousands of people cross our borders on a constant basis and we don’t know who many of them are or why they came.
Among all those innocents simply hoping for a better or safer life are no small number of people who wish us ill. Given the flood at the border, it is hard to sort them out. Problem 1: Border security is not where it should be just by measuring outcomes.
The second of these problems feeds the first – a seemingly endless number of people take extraordinary risks to come here. Many die in the effort. The vast majority simply hope for a better life for themselves and their children. Others have genuine fear of political and criminal death squads. Who can blame them for risking it all in hopes of something better?
Our system of dealing with them is slow and cumbersome. Happily, the unimaginable cruelty of the processes implemented by Trump and company are behind us, but still, we are not up to the challenge.
It is the third problem that has caught the attention of the rest of us. The country is desperately short of workers in almost every area of the economy and across the country. It is hurting the economy and frustrating the heck out of other workers, employers, and customers. We got an early taste of this with Trump policies, when millions of pounds of fresh produce rotted in the fields with no one to pick them.
Now the shortages are everywhere. I will not go over why the shortage is so profound but will simply note two things: it is not because people got too lazy to work; and it is not temporary. This is here to stay.
A Solution to It All
You, clever reader, have figured out where this is going. Solving all these problems takes more than one approach, but one simple one would make a huge dent in all three. We have not just problems, but opportunities right before us.
I am speaking, of course, of a logical, efficient, humane guest worker program. Something like most other advanced countries have long had. We have a few pieces. There are some provisions to allow in some with special skills. Donald Trump’s latest wife got in on one of those. Imagine that. We have had some policies to extend access to family members of those already here legally. Trump killed that policy – weeks after his in-laws were granted citizenship under those policies.
But we surely do not have a comprehensive policy. Doing so would grant huge progress against all three problems. Illegal migration would drop dramatically, allowing border security to focus on those crossing for all the wrong reasons. It would provide those seeking a better life and sanctuary a support system that works and improve their lives while their case is adjudicated. And society at large would have a host of grateful, talented, hardworking people eager to fill the jobs that are now going begging.
Could We Do This?
Of course we could. It makes overwhelming sense for everyone. It is the right thing morally, legally, economically, and politically. I am not making a case for open borders. I never accepted those “there are no illegal immigrants” bumper stickers. But the vast majority that are illegal need not be so. A smarter solution works literally for all sides.
It works for all sides except for those who need villains to terrify and fire up their base. They have been pretty good at this for some time now. Its why common sense legislation has not passed, starting with George Bush’s efforts until today. There are politicians who need to vilify to justify their existence. Too many are willing to believe them, still. Perhaps Problem 3 will break the code for them.
Will We Do This?
Probably not, or at least not soon, but there is hope on three grounds.
One, everyone can now see the problem of worker shortage. There should be a building momentum for guest workers from the public and from business.
Two, the Democrats are suddenly on a bit of a roll. The CHIPS bill and the earlier legislation Biden and congressional Democrats got through are clear successes. If they can pass the pending budget reconciliation package (we should know in mere days), they have the wind at their back to take this on.
Three, we started seeing cracks in the congressional ranks of the Republicans in recent days. Some are starting to speak out and voting in ways that make sense, turning away from the extremists. I have no illusions – this likely is only a minor dustup. But hope springs eternal that a few more will decide to lead rather than be a sheep in the extremists’ flock.
Fingers crossed. This time around the easy thing and the right thing are the same thing.
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