Solving the Faux Immigrant Problem
by Ed Sawicki
How do crony capitalism and a corrupt political system account for decades of robbing the public coffers? Decades of stagnant wages, high health care costs, crumbling infrastructure, and increasing homelessness?
By blaming it on immigrants.
The year 2012 was notable for anti-immigrant bills coming out of states like Arizona and Alabama. The Arizona law (SB1070), known as the "show me your papers" law, allowed law enforcement to stop anyone who appeared to be an illegal immigrant. It was a misdemeanor to be caught without papers.
The Alabama law (HB56) forbade illegal immigrants from working in Alabama, targeting agricultural workers. It was a disaster for both Mexican immigrants and the farmers who relied on these immigrants to pick their crops. Alabama farmers couldn't hire American workers to do the job, and crops rotted in the fields. The Southern Poverty Law Center released this 3-minute video to call out the recklessness of this hate campaign:
In June 2015, Trump descended the golden escalator and claimed that Mexico wasn't sending us their best, accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists. The GOP base ate this up. Anti-immigrant sentiment was now firmly entrenched. But what about our farmers and their crops? What about our food supply?
What's the solution?
I come from a systems analysis background, so I think about the best and least expensive solutions that benefit the stakeholders. I recognize terrible solutions when I see them. Spending tens of billions of dollars building a wall is a terrible solution. It doesn't solve the problem of farmers being unable to harvest their crops and it makes the problem worse.
The best solutions tend to be the simpler ones. Other countries have guest worker programs that work well. I suspect we don't have such an obvious solution because of our political parties. They use immigration to fundraise off of their battle with each other. Perhaps you noticed that the Obama Administration got behind "comprehensive immigration reform," which was guaranteed to be opposed by the immigrant-hating GOP and resulted in no progress on the issue—but it brought in donations.
So, how does a systems analyst see this problem and come up with a solution? By succinctly stating the core question:
“How can we ensure a food supply for the American market in the face of powerful anti-immigrant forces?”
Additionally, let's throw in some strategic concerns unrelated to immigration. How can we reduce the risk of these affecting our food production:
- aquifers being poisoned by pipeline spills, oil train accidents, and fracking
- a massive Yellowstone eruption taking out significant amounts of farmland
- climate change
The obvious solution is to lease land in Mexico and develop a secondary U.S. agriculture industry where there are no obstacles to using Mexican workers*. Our food production would be better insulated from the destructive forces of anti-immigrant fascism.
We used to take on big projects in other countries. Think Panama Canal, where we leased land for 99 years. A huge success.
* and workers from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Why some American farmers are moving to Mexico
APM: 'Show me your papers': A decade after SB 1070
NBC News: Alabama gov. signs nation's toughest immigrant law
WaPo: Alabama law drives out illegal immigrants but also has unexpected consequences
Reuters: In Alabama, strict immigration law sows discord
SPLC: A Cruel Legacy: Alabama anti-immigrant law remembered
Golden escalator ride: the surreal day Trump kicked off his bid for president