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Thursday, May 5

Bruce Kesler responds, Pundita argues for external approach

Dear Pundita:
Re: Your comments about my report for the Augusta Free Press on illegal immigration.

Better put than those who commented the other way, that we should just throw up our hands and virtually open the borders, to whatever. In fact, both your "external" and my "internal" approaches are needed. I focused on the "internal" approaches, as we have most immediate control of these, but I do also mention the need for Mexico to get its own act together and the US to push hard for that. Mexico, alone, is the source of half the illegals, and most of the illiterate ones (probably also the hardest working and nicest, and most exploited ones) who are the primary financial burden and slowest assimilators -- Again, thank you for your additional comments.
[signed] Bruce Kesler in Encinitas

Dear Bruce:
Thank you for your reply and thanks to Mark Safranski at ZenPundit for forwarding you my blog on your report. It was on my To-do list to send you a copy--my To-do list now long enough to reach from my house to somewhere in Kansas City.

The problem with the internal solutions is that they're geared toward the way the US was in the year 2000 and assume the enemy we face today is an idiot. But you may trust that the enemy, once across the border, will play things by the book.

If the enemy is smart, and he can be very smart when it comes to doing sneaky things, he will not risk jumping a checkpoint to truck in hazmat, conventional weapons and high value operatives. We must assume he's constantly testing the system at the US southern border so the system needs to become a hard target.

So here's why I am in favor of Americans getting behind the external approach: From the security standpoint, which should be the #1 priority right now for the USG, the US and Mexico need to throw all available resources toward thinning out the crowds at all US-Mexico border checkpoints.

The task is to thin the crowds at the conventional border crossings to the point where guards and covert military observers have time for more eyeballing, and so that there can be more random checks.

The only way to thin the crowds significantly is to thin them at the point of origin. Most of the very poor, illiterate Mexicans who seek work in the USA are from southern Mexico. So stop them from migrating to the north of Mexico. How to do that?

Part of the answer is "Development-bank funded WPA-type projects that employ them at points in southern Mexico." The Mexican government doesn't want to take that approach. They want other types of loans from the World Bank and other development banks. And they fear that attractive work in southern Mexico will only bring more illegals from Central America across their border.

The answer to the last is arm-twisting by the USG for stricter border control measures and a coordinated approach to WPA projects that involves Central America as well.

Here one might ask whether all this wouldn't take years. The answer is that the World Bank can move with jaw-dropping speed when they want and that they are one of the world's most efficient organizations, when they want.

The problem is the infamous "mafias" at the Bank. So called because a certain group(s) of nationals or regionals gets in power inside the Bank and diverts Bank loans to their country or region.

You may trust that once Paul Wolfowitz gets to the Bank, the Arab mafia will gain power and that an Iraqi mafia will materialize almost overnight. This is because the USG wants to make Iraq a showcase and throw resources to addressing The Arab Problem.

So the "Latin American" mafias at the Bank, along with Ukraine and other East European mafias, will be left with crumbs, which is why Yushchenko was here recently glad-handing US senators. He senses the party is over.

The World Bank (and development banks in general) is not the only option, of course, but the idea is for Americans to set up such a howl that the USG uses influence at major development banks to set up a mini-Marshall Plan composed of WPA projects for countries that are hurling waves of immigrants at the southern US border.

That's only one approach I suggest along external lines; another is to arm-twist the Mexican government into adopting reforms that ease "temporary worker" immigrants--the people who are coming here just because they can't get loans at Mexican banks, and so on.

There are many other approaches as well--and once Americans greatly concerned with border security put their attention and ingenuity toward stopping waves of immigrants at the point of origin, many more workable approaches will be devised.

So I'm really suggesting a paradigm shift; I'm calling for Americans to look at the situation from the southern side of the problem and ask, "How can the Mexican government be helped and prodded to stop migrations at the point of origin?"

The USG won't get fully behind the external approach unless prodded by the American voter. The Bush administration is dragging their feet on the external approach because they're playing oil politics with Vicente Fox. Oil politics is serious business, but President Fox is playing oil politics because he can get away with it.

So US firms that employ legal immigrants from Mexico need to make it clear to Fox that they want Mexico's government to step up to the plate and get behind an external approach. Once Fox hears US businesses snapping at him about reform, this will put wind behind the Bush administration's sails. This will translate to the World Bank and other international organizations getting behind the WPA projects. Quickly.

None of this means abandoning the internal approach because quite frankly it won't be abandoned; there's too much political will behind it. But that's exactly the crux of the problem. There is not enough political will behind an external approach. This is despite the fact that the approach aims to actually solve the problem of huge crowds at the border instead of the futile approaches to 'managing' them once they are across the border.

For links to other Pundita essays on Mexico, US-Mexico relations, immigration from Mexico and the Mexico-US border situation/war on terror, see Mexico Desk.
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