Leadership & Border Crisis Research Paper
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The current state of affairs with the United States borders is a bit of a mess. There are massive issues that need to be resolved as it relates to the United States’ border with Mexico and, to a lesser extent, their border with Canada. There are a lot of effects that are rendering as it relates to the immigration mess that has emerged. However, this is far from being a new issue as this has been on the forefront of the United States’ political scene since the 1960’s. Further, another fever pitch was reached in the 1980’s. Once again, the cacophony has risen but the ostensible ability of and willingness of the current politicians to reach another resolution or fix seems to be much less than it was. However, the “fixes” that were done prior were just delays or were not implemented as written and designed. While comprehensive immigration reform is probably the best answer, it will take good leadership both before and after the passage of any new law or set of laws for said laws to do the least bit of good.
History & Literature Review
Of course, any review of this subject has to look at a bit of history. The history of the United States and the colonies before it was typified by people basically moving without borders. The world was still being colonized and reapportioned as recently as the 1940’s and 1950’s. The United Kingdom, Spain, France and a few more minor nations basically conquered the entire world over a few centuries and they slowly lost their grip one nation at a time. India and Pakistan (which was formerly all India) was British and current United States territory Puerto Rico was controlled by the Spaniards until 1898 and the latter ceded it to the former. There were also voluntary movements of land like the Louisiana Purchase in which the French bestowed a huge swath of what is now the central United States to the latter in exchange for money (Sharp, 2009).
However, by the end of World War II, borders started to mean things and that is also when there was increased focus on the movement of people between Mexico and the United States. While there has been a formal immigration process as well as a visa system for temporary stays for quite a long time, this process has not always been honored or respected by all parties involved. In most cases, the citizens of Mexico have moved into and out of the United States as a means to find a better life or send money to family members still in Mexico or other parts of Central America. However, this process has wreaked havoc in many ways in the United States including lost tax revenue, employment rates that are surely being altered due to the use and presence of undocumented labor and so forth. This was dealt with, at least supposedly, in the 1960’s and 1980’s in two separate legislative acts. The 1960’s iteration was the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. This act tore down the quotas and apportionments that were in place at the time that regulated who could immigrate and from what country. This was followed a decade later by the mass amnesty championed by Ronald Regan in the 1980’s. While the effect was not immediate, it eventually led to nearly twenty million people entering the country legally over the next thirty years. This was triple the amount over the prior thirty years. In the 1980’s and through 1990, three million illegal aliens were granted legal status despite being present in the country without permission of the United States. The economic problems in the early 1990’s, coupled with that fact, led to a strong amount of anti-immigrant feelings (Jaggers, Gabbard & Jaggers, 2014).
Fast forward to today and there are a couple of issues that are all bubbling up at once. First, the poverty and struggles of Central and South America are still there. Drug cartels are running rampant in Mexico and other parts of Central and South America. The border between Mexico and the United States is still quite porous. Also, there is now the threat of international terrorists such as those with Al Qaeda and ISIS. There is no proof as of yet that they have followed through on this, but they have stated (and national security wonks have concurred) that the Mexico/United States border could or would be a point of entry for terrorists. This can be coupled with the fact that a lot of people actively ignoring and disregarding the expiration date of their immigration visas, and the immigration system is clearly typified by people that are willing to come to the United States at all costs and a leadership structure in Washington DC that is unwilling to enforce the rules as written. Indeed, many people immigrating to the United States are using feelings, perceptions and other emotions or feelings as a wedge to sort of disregard the laws as they exist (Kellner & Pipitone, 2010).
Just as one example, there are people that say it is heartless to separate families via deportation. However, a lot of these folks are the same people that enter the country (or stay in the country) illegally, have a child (or more than one) and then get indignant when it is suggested that they return to their home country due to their lack of legal status. It would be one thing if legal status was extended and then rescinded but some are acting like it is something they can coerce out of the American government or society by using demagogic and unfair logic. It should be recognized that Mexico and the rest of Central America are far from being the only countries that do this. Men and women from China, Russia and other war-torn or poverty-torn parts of the world are using the immigration rules as a wedge to get citizenship when it would otherwise not be extended, at least not as quickly as ends up being the case. The reason all of this is quite sad and unfortunate is because many people try to immigrate and enter the United States legally and using the proper procedures and their entry gets delayed or denied due to people basically cutting in line in front of them. Further, the United States does not have room to take on all of the people that seek the so-called American dream because the United States is but a mere five percent of the world’s population. In a world where the average United States work salary (roughly $30,000) is in the top one percent of all world salaries paid, there is only so much compassion and help the United States can render on its own (Tyler-Viola & Cesario, 2010; Ignatow & Williams, 2011).
First up would be an acknowledgement that cleaning up the prior leadership miscues will involve at least some concessions. Indeed, there are roughly twelve million illegal aliens in the United States. Deporting them all (or trying to) would be impossible, would be a waste of resources and would be an attempt to correct for a prior lack of leadership. That being said, granting them legal status with no strings attached would be less than wise. Any strong leader would assert that there has to be an orderly counting and review of who is here and the process that will be followed to perhaps grant them legal status in the somewhat near future so long as they abide by certain conditions. Before that happens, the border would need to be completely and unquestionably secured so that there is not a mad rush of people that are trying to get into the country before the lockdown goes into effect. This would probably require that the military secure the border while fences and other countermeasures are put into place. Otherwise, the fence would have to be done on its own and that would rub a lot of people the wrong way.
Once the border is locked down, there would need to be a strong yet reasonable set of rules put in place. Not only will those rules need to be put forth, they will need to be followed to the letter. The leaders of the Department of Homeland Security will have to be firm and resolute when it comes to those rules because there will be demagoguery and pleas for leniency later when people break those rules and this means the person should be deported. In general, people that do not “come forward” even when told to do so should be deported. There has to be a period where everyone comes forward, is identified and is issued identification. Those people should be fingerprinted, issued some sort of identification or work authorization and so forth so as to make it easy to identify them if they do not comply with the rules. This can also be done to identify people that are criminals in the United States or elsewhere. Speaking of that, any good leader will make sure to deport non-citizens that have committed one felony or three misdemeanors. There is also a strong crime and jail culture in the United States and legalizing a bunch of felons will only make that worse. On the same note, a strong leader would have to recognize that while discriminating based on nation of origin is wrong. Indeed, this was the focus of the aforementioned law passed in 1965. However, there is already a glut of people (both legal and illegal) in the United States that are low-skill and low-wage and adding too much to that total will aggravate that condition. Due to geographical proximity, this would lead to a lot of Mexicans and other Central or South Americans getting excluded. However, there are countries in those areas that have some strong minds. For example, Costa Rica is in Central America and it actually does quite well in the grand scheme of things given its strong knowledge sector businesses and its overall economic performance (Blackman et al, 2014).
A strong leader would also put forth a focus on helping new citizens acclimate and assimilate to life in the United States. This would mean enforcing the requirement that new citizens learn and know English. People that immigrate here and do not speak the language put a burden on the government and societal infrastructures as there is a language barrier. Obviously, learning English takes time and so does the immigration and legalization process. While an immigrant is going through the process, they should also be learning the dominant language in the area. Government agencies and such that deal with these immigrants will need to make sure that forms and at least some of the employees know the language of the immigrants so that the process is smooth while they learn. There will be claims of racism and nativism, but people immigrating to France that do not know French would get the same looks and derision and this is really as it should be. Something that is not commonly spoken of is that Mexico’s immigration rules and words about people living in the area but that are not citizens is a lot stronger and more draconian than the United States and it is not even close. One major rule that needs to change is the fact that people born in the United States are usually citizens on an automatic basis. This is where the term “anchor babies” comes from and this is a rule that is exploited time after time. While the child is in the United States, the child should be protected and looked after. However, if none of the rest of the family is here legally and they are not from a country where asylum is a standard practice (e.g. Cuba), then they really need to be sent back (Paret, 2014).
The above will not be popular. It will be called racist, protectionist and nationalistic. However, a President or other high-end leader of the United States largely has to operate from a utilitarian point of view because there will always be people that slip through when the normal procedures are followed. However, the current state of affairs is that the rules are being roundly ignored and the amount of deportations is much lower than they should be. This is what is leading to unaccompanied children being sent across the border because it is assessed that the normal rules for such situations (returning the child to their home country) will not be followed.
Just like a project with a company or employer, there will have to be a logical progression with how the border is secured and how people here illegally are dealt with after the lockdown is in place. Those steps are as follows:
Locking down of the border so that the sieve that is our border is no longer a source of problems. This should be done for immigration and terrorism reasons
Expiration dates for visas need to be made clear and anyone overstaying their visa without getting proper clearance to stay beyond their visa expiration date should be deported.
The undocumented migrants currently in the United States should be required to come forward after the lockdown is in place. They should be given identification paperwork so they can move and operate in the United States with no fear. So long as they do not break the law and work with DHS, they will not be harassed or deported. Their pathway to citizenship will remain on track but will take five to ten years at a minimum.
The leaders of DHS, the President and Congress will need to show strong leadership traits and make sure to not bend in flex when people try to re-shape or bend the system. This will be necessary as this will definitely occur at some point.
Decisions and outcomes will need to be based on the best overall outcomes for everyone and not based on appeasing small groups with their own interests in question rather than those of the broader United States or interests that are against the United States
As noted above, it will take some time to get the immigration system for the United States under control. Some hard decisions will need to be made and those decisions will be very unpopular with a lot of groups. It will take a set of leaders that are more interested in doing what is best for American its people rather than avoiding negative attention or loss of some votes.
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