Making borders stronger

MEXICO and other Central American nations are opposing a US proposal to make illegal immigration to the US a crime and not just a civil offence. The Central American leaders have condemned the US proposal, arguing that migrants should not be treated like criminals, irrespective of their legal status.

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Published: Wed 11 Jan 2006, 10:53 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:07 PM

The American plans envisage erecting a fence along its border with Mexico and floodlighting the area. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in December, but has not yet been passed by the Senate, which is due to debate it next month. The Central American nations argue that tough measures do not lead to any solution, and the US should have a ‘guest worker’ programme and legalise the millions of illegal workers.

First of all, America is well within its rights to stem the flow of illegal migrants. Any country would like to take care of its legal residents and citizens before anyone else. Besides, it’s not the case that illegal migrants have been treated harshly in the US. In fact, the nation has been rather tolerant of the ‘illegals’. Even those who enter the country on visit visas and then ‘disappear’, find some reasonable jobs. Many of them manage to work for a year or more before they are caught. Even so, they are not deported immediately or sent to jail, as the law has to take its ‘due course’. Meanwhile, civil rights activists too fight for them, giving them a further reprieve. During all this time, the US government does not interfere in the legal process, as respect for human rights is the bedrock of the US Constitution. The nation has indeed been very liberal and tolerant for the last 50 years. Thousands of people come to the US in search for a better life. Many of them, especially the highly-skilled ones, contribute to the growth of the US economy and brighten the image of a country where talent is rewarded. But at the same time, the ‘illegals’ — who, according to some recent statistics, number about 15 million — also place a great strain on the resources of the rich nation and lower the overall quality of life. So, the US — if it is to continue remaining attractive to millions of people worldwide — has to preserve its way of life, and so, its recent measures seem well within the legal framework.

It must be understood that America is not outrightly rejecting immigrants, because they still need people to work in their country, for there are many jobs Americans will not do. Besides, there are plenty of job opportunities for those who want to enter the country legally. America even has a visa lottery system that allows migrants from ‘under-represented’ countries to diversify their ethnic pool. The country has been fair to most immigrants. Therefore, Mexico and others should not protest the ‘fencing’ move, especially since there are already 10 million Mexicans living and working there — half of them without the right papers.

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