Borders and Immigration, Revisited

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The border between the US and Mexico has been on my mind for some time now. The issues of illegal immigration and the border loom ominously ahead of us. Why is it that this border is so different from the others?

Immigrants are the heartbeat of America. We are all children of people who came here from someplace. I am a first generation offspring of  parents who immigrated to the US in the nineteen twenties. Both Mom and Dad told us their stories of how they got here and who sponsored them. They needed visas and a passport, before leaving their home country. Both of them had to travel hundreds of miles to a harbor in northern Europe, board a boat, and endure weeks of sea sickness while crossing the “border” into the United States.

Once they crossed the invisible line called a border somewhere in New York Harbor their boat docked. It didn’t dock at the mainland, it docked at Ellis Island. There, they disembarked and stood in long lines until they came before a magistrate of some kind who officially registered them in the books of immigrants. I assume they were given papers to allow them entry.

Not all folks off the boat were lucky. Some, who carried disease or some undesirable malady returned home. How in the hell they accomplished that is not clear. Many of the folks who came from Slavic countries carried some weird names. At least they were weird to the magistrates who could not pronounce a string of consonants. Often the magistrate registered the alien with a new name spelled as he heard it said. So some of them came to America and immediately had a new identity as well as a new home. Well, not yet. There was the matter of getting from Ellis Island to where ever you were going to wind up.

That is the Eastern border, the Western is not much different. Contractors building railroads, dams and bridges conscripted Chinese and Japanese laborers by the thousand to help build railroads across the country. Many of these contracted laborers never made it back home. At first, they came by boat and entered harbors in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Later, after air flight became the norm, seating capacity limited how many could come on Boeing airplanes. Airplanes land in controlled spaces such as airports. They disembark the plane and herded to the immigration terminal where a nasty looking man in a uniform verifies their credentials. They must have passports and a visa to continue to customs. Eventually, they enter the mainland to a new home. In review, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans present a unique border that limits immigration to discreet entry points.

Let’s look at the northern border next. Canada is a country much like the United States. Canada’s make-up is from immigrants who enter the country from the East (Atlantic) or from the West (Pacific). Their northern border is the arctic circle and most likely is not breached nor has it been breached since the last ice age when the Bering Sea froze over and immigrants from Asia walked across to North America. There was also a brief time in the  seventeen hundreds when Russian adventurers sailed across the Bering Sea and settled in what is now Alaska. In any case this migration limited entry to very few souls.

Most of Canada’s immigrants come to Canada the same way as they do to the USA from the East and West.

The Northern border of the USA is with Canada. Canadians bent on migrating to the USA are already documented and familiar with the process. They apply for visas and passports and cross into the states at designated border crossings. The standard of living in Canada is like that in the USA so there is not the huge wish on their part to leave one good thing for something else.

America’s southern border presents a different perspective. At one time, the native population of Mexico stretched into North America into the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Then the Spanish came and invaded Mexico in search of gold. They proceeded to bastardize the Indian population with Spanish blood to the extent they creates a new referred to as Hispanic. The Spanish brought with them Jesuit priests to convert the pagan natives to Christianity. Many of the Jesuits were successful in establishing missions to do their work. In a sense the missions were mini countries ruled as theocracies. When the Spanish decided the missions were too successful they began secularization and order evolved into chaos under Spanish rule.

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We all know that Spain did not hold its grip on Mexico and the now Hispanic native population came to be ruled by the very wealthy aristocracy. It is the same to this day. Mexico is a dirt poor country because the leaders want it dirt poor.

In eighteen hundred and thirty-seven, the Republic of Texas became a reality by  seceding from Mexico. Texas later became a state.

Mexico ceded New Mexico, Arizona and California to the United States during the Mexican-American war of 1848 under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848). The US also paid Mexico $15,000,000.00 dollars for the land.

The western border states quickly became agricultural and needed labor. Mexicans living on the land did much of the work. Others who lived across the border would simply walk or ride across to their jobs and return home at night. The culture of free passage has prevailed for centuries.

The Mexican people come to America for the same reasons my parents did, to make a better life for themselves. Yes, we have laws on the books defining requirements for entry, but our government choses to ignore them. We brag about the number of immigrants we lawfully allow into the states every year, but sweep the number of illegals under the carpet.

Why is this the case? Our low-cost labor requirements are greater than the number of immigrants we can process yearly. We lack a valid worker pass program that allows true migrants the ability to cross into the USA for legitimate reasons, i.e. to work. The result is they enter the country illegally and make themselves legitimate with stolen social security cards. This not only allows them to get drivers licenses, but they now qualify for benefits even though they had no intention of asking for benefits when they got here.

Many of us argue that our generous social programs draw these people here. I contend that this is wrong. Most come only to get a job that pays more than they can make in Mexico. We as a country insist they get the same rights as our legal immigrants and valid citizens. Our insatiable desire to offer equal outcome for all is eating us alive. Guest workers do not deserve any benefits, they are here to make a wage and to go home.

What is the answer here? Control! The same type of control we have on the East, and west borders. On the South, it means a fence, moat, or a deterrent system as effective as three thousand miles of ocean. Control will allow us to assimilate and integrate new people at a pace we can all be happy with. Classify guest-workers as that, guest-workers. Why insist they be given all social benefits allotted to legal citizens, even when the guest-worker does not demand it.

Define the guest worker with a contract describing his salary, duties and daily time on the job with a three years limit. When their contract time is up, they go home.

Singapore brags about 110% employment. How can they meet that demand? They have a generous guest worker program. They do not have guest workers who over stay visas and get lost in the system, and Singapore follows its laws.

The immigration debate is simple to fix, we do not need another 1220 page bill loaded with muck to fill the days of our Congress with endless arguments about how to fix it. What we need is some common sense, and a President who loves America as it is, and one who is not fixated on transforming America into a Socialist State. Couple that with a Congress that cares about the country more than keeping their jobs. The kind of President and Congress we have is up to us. We are the only ones who can fix that problem by paying attention to what our government is up to and electing candidates with character, integrity, and genuine love for the country.

Here is my proposal:

  1. Implement a Vigorous Border Control
  2. Initiate a formal Guest-Worker Program
  3. Differentiate guest worker benefits from immigrant benefits.
  4. Define the number of immigrants allowed
  5. Define the number of guest-workers we need, and will allow.
  6. Expand and improve border crossing stations to increase the flow of guest workers.
  7. Define the length of time a guest worker may stay before returning to his home country.

Your comments are welcome.

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Pump More Lead

US troops marching on Monterrey during the Mex...

US troops marching on Monterrey during the Mexican-American War. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems that Obama, the community organizer, has expanded his territory. Now, he has delusions of grandeur by blitzing Central America. He failed to organize Europe, so he concentrates on lessor nations. If Obama is so darned upset about the way we treat Mexicans jumping the border into the USA, why is he blaming Mexican hate on his own country? The country that screwed the Mexicans and began a new race of Euro-Mayans called Mexicans are to blame. The Spaniards are the ones who stomped on the Indians and beat them into submission very much like the Muslims did to Europe several times.

Three years ago, I drew a cartoon depicting Obama’s solution to the Mexican-border problem. I must admit, however, that I was way off in my prediction of how far he would move the border to avoid building a fence. He really wants to give back every inch we won from the Mexicali’s during the Mexican-American war between 1846-47. The war began under Democrat President James K. Polk. The US beat the Mexicans soundly. Our army pushed deep into several Mexican states, and even took Mexico City. When it was over, the US generously gave the Mexicans their land south of  the Rio Grande. We paid them $15 million cash for California, and New Mexico, then forgave their $3.25 million debt to the USA (That sounds like a bailout to me.) The Mexicans conceded Texas to the USA which they previously lost to Texans in 1836. Now, the Mexicans cry foul and want their territory back. I have news for them, they are not going to get it. Even the Mexicans who have lived here legally for generations will not give it back.

So where does Obama get off telling me that I am the reason for all of Mexico’s problems? If Obama feels Mexicans need some redistribution, he should become president of Mexico and work on the Mexican one-percent.

The problem with Obama is that he has no sense of history, probably because a Progressive school (Punahou) taught him.

If I were to re-draw the cartoon to the way Obama wants the border, it will extend from a point north of Los Angeles all the way to Louisiana. Since California is already socialist and in his pocket, with New Mexico close to becoming socialist, he only needs Arizona and Texas. He is suing Arizona, but will stay away from Texas because he knows the Texans will pump more lead into his assministration than the Department of Homeland Security has in stock.

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Burning Gas-Santa Fe

During my lifetime I have traveled a lot. My goal is to visit as many places in the United States and Canada as I can before my travel days end. Lately though, I find myself re-visiting places I have been to before. When I plan a trip, I try to include new cities, and new routes, but there is always someplace that I really enjoyed that is near the new place. My last post in the Burning Gas travel series took us to the White Sands National Monument near  Alamogordo, New Mexico. That put us within one driving day from Santa Fé, New Mexico. I love Santa Fé. My family camped there on a visit some forty years ago. We fell in love with the tiny hamlet of Santa Fé. Established in 1608 it rivals Saint Augustine Florida for the title of the oldest city in North America. What I found when I returned with Peggy was not a three hundred year old village, but a three hundred year old village surrounded by urban sprawl. Immediately my mind played back the lines from John Steinbeck’s novel Travels With Charley,

“Tom Wolfe was right. You can’t go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory.”  

Oh how true that is. We stayed in a modern hotel, on a six lane median separated street five miles from the center of the old town. Every intersection has another shopping center with Home Depot, Staples, Kohl’s, Appleby’s, and other national chain stores. Laced in between were the more homey Spanish-Mexican-American food places which I so longed to try, but couldn’t because Miss Peggy cannot handle those spicy foods.

On our first  trip, I recall seeing the new and modern State Capital building on the outskirts of town.  This time I had to find it with the GPS. It is surrounded by business and sub-divisions near the center of town.

When we finally did find Old Santa Fé it remained the same, except for the amount of vehicular traffic streaming through the old town. The Veranda of the Governor’s Palace is still the market place for native Americans selling their handcrafted jewelry. The Basilica is still at the end of San Francisco Street. The town square is still a hangout for hippies. Except now the hippies are forty years older and sport long white hair and beards. Artists abound selling small twenty-dollar pieces to the tourists. The shops around the square teem with more elegant artwork and clothing that one can only find in Santa Fé.

We visited the oldest house in America on De Vargas Street off the Old Santa Fé Trail, and across from the Mission San Miguel.  San Miguel (est 1610) is one of the oldest missions in North America, and  is still an active parish. A short stroll from the Mission we entered the Loretto Chapel. This church is modeled after Notre Dame in Paris, however it is much smaller. The architect forgot to build a staircase to the choir loft. The good nuns who served the church prayed to Saint Joseph the builder for a solution. A stranger showed up and built a magnificent spiral staircase to the choir, and then left. No one knows who he was nor from where he came, nor where he got the wood. The church implies it as a miracle, but will not declare it so.

A few blocks away we entered the vestibule of the Basilica Saint Francis Assisi to find a funeral mass in progress, so we decided to call it a day.

We also visited the Georgia O’Keefe museum to learn about the artist behind the print of the huge red poppy hanging on our wall at home. It turns out she invented the concept of painting  flowers close up and big. She spent much of her life on a ranch near the museum painting desert scenes in solitude.

Before we left Santa Fé, we formed a new bond and  now have a second benchmark to which we can never return.

 

 

Burning Gas-White Sands

In 1945 I remember seeing a full-page photo on the cover of the Chicago Times. It showed a giant mushroom cloud. The photo was of the first atom bomb explosion released by Uncle to the public. Ever since then, I have had a secret wish to visit the site where they tested the first A-bomb. I learned on an earlier trip to New Mexico that a group of physicists designed and built the bomb at a place called Los Alamos. The government built the lab as a top-secret project under the code name “Manhattan Project.” Under that moniker, Uncle secretly bought thousands of acres of land in New Mexico for building the atomic bomb.

There are volumes of books written about the development, and one can visit the Los Alamos Lab to see real life-size models of Fat Boy and Little Man, the two bombs they developed and eventually dropped on Hiroshima and  Nagasaki, Japan.

The first tests took place on a site two hundred miles south of Los Alamos, in the White Sand desert. It became a missile test site and remains so today.

Our visit to Alamogordo, New Mexico was to see the White Sands National Monument. White Sands Monument is not where the bomb first blew up, but is directly south of it by about a hundred miles. The terrain and the color of the sand is the same in both places.

We approached the monument from Alamogordo on highway US 70 and passed by Holloman Air Force base on the way. I read that this road is sometimes closed when Uncle tests missiles. I guess blowing up civilians passing through on the way to work is a possibility. Sure enough, I saw a sign along the way warning that road closures occur during missile tests. I also read that one should visit the monument in the evening at sunset to get the greatest visual impact. We did that. Seeing the sun set over these magnificently white sand dunes was spectacular. A line of cars clogged the gate. There were hundreds of people coming to watch the show. Many visitors, we learned, came to  picnic at one of the many shaded tables provided

It is hard to describe the beauty of the place. The road reminded me of driving in winter when there is deep snow and it is blowing and drifting all around. The difference being that we had the air conditioner set at seventy degrees in evening air that was still ninety degrees. Peggy and I stopped at several spots and got out to walk around. She was not up to dune climbing. I didn’t think the dunes were as high or as tough as the Sleeping Bear Dune in Michigan, but we enjoyed the views from the road. The sun was down and the light began getting dim, yet not many people were leaving.

The following morning we revisited the Monument to get the feel of bright sun, heat, and the whiteness. The many people of last evening were gone, and the dunes seemed lonely. My point and shoot camera with the digital display was useless in the brightness. I was literally pointing and shooting to take pictures without seeing what I had framed. Peggy stayed in the car because the heat was too intense as was the sun. The whiteness of the sand hurt my eyes even while wearing polarized sun glasses.

Later that evening, I discovered that Peggy had mistakenly double medicated herself in the morning and was not very much into the experience. Thank God I was not aware of it during the day.

We stayed for a couple of hours, I left the car running with the air for Peggy, and took photos from many points of interest, they all looked the same, white. I actually left the car in some of the pictures just to give some perspective. As we left, we made one more stop  and toured the visitors center.

The miles driven, and the gas burned to see White Sands Monument was well worth it. I rationalized that I was close enough to the A-bomb test sight to satisfy my secret wish and we left town by another route.

The story will continue.

In the meantime, please enjoy the photos.

White Sands National Monument at Sunset

White clouds, white sand dune, white road, brown grass

People Walking the Dunes

A Solitary Yucca Growing in the Morning Sun

Only the Strong Survive

The plant establishes a root system that digs deep. Then the wind removes the sand from around the roots leaving a cylinder of white sand as a post on which the plant lives.

Blue on White

A sand drifted road plowed, and looking like mid-western snow.

The Avalon Death Star in Blizzard White against White Sands.

A picnic area in the heat of the morning sun. The night before the tables were all filled with people.

A hardy stand of Yucca.

The White Sands National Monument Visitors Center with ocotillo just beginning to bloom.

Burning Gas-Where the Heck is Andrews, Texas?

Adapted from Wikipedia's TX county maps by Set...

Adapted from Wikipedia’s TX county maps by Seth Ilys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next leg of our trip pointed us straight North. It was my intention to visit the Midland- Odessa area, but the hotels were very expensive. Midland is a famous oil industry town, and the place where George Bush senior had his business and George Jr, grew up. We found Andrews, Texas just thirty miles north of Midland with hotels from the same chain for one-third the price. We drove the extra thirty miles.

The population in Andrews is around sixteen thousand souls, but I couldn’t figure where in the world they lived. As is my habit, before we checked in, I drove down main street to search out an eating place. The town was very short and not very wide. Where are these people? I did spot a place called Joe’s Italian Restaurant and decided to come back there for the evening meal.

Aside from a myriad of Mexican fast food stands, Joe’s appeared the finest restaurant we could find. I made  reservations for dinner from the hotel. It turned out that Joe’s is a family restaurant with formica topped tables, vinyl covered booth seats, and a tile floor. It was large inside, and could easily seat a hundred people, but there were only a dozen people inside seated. Several large fans moved air around to cool us off. It was a hundred degrees outside, and eighty inside. We seated ourselves and ordered lasagna, and drinks. I asked the waitress if they served anything stronger than Pepsi, she looked at me questioningly. “Like wine or beer?”

“Oh no,” she laughed.

“Why not?”

“Sir, this is a dry county.”

“Oh my, do you mean I have to drive thirty miles back to Midland to get a drink?”

“Yes.”

“I guess I’ll have a diet Pepsi.”

While waiting for the meal to arrive, Peggy and I played swat the fly. The place was buzzing with flies, that had a mean disposition.

The waitress bought our meals on a tray. She used serving gloves to place the dishes in front of us.

“Be careful these plates are hot,” she warned.

We proceeded with caution to cut into the lasagna. I forked a piece and blew on it vigorously to cool it off. Finally, I built enough nerve to test it on my tongue. There is nothing worse than a burned tongue. It was surprisingly cool.

The plate was sizzling, the cheese on top melted and drippy hot, but the interior was cool. I kept eating. I wasn’t going to send it back after driving without eating all day.

The following morning on our way out of Andrews we found a neighborhood where people actually lived. In just a few minutes the town disappeared into the West Texas landscape. The land is flat and void of vegetation, and the Midland-Odessa skyline is visible from thirty miles away. Nearly every farmer leases his land to an oil company, and oil is being pumped into field-storage tanks. The cartoon in the preceding post shows a West Texas pickup truck. No kidding, there were dozens of semi-tankers emptying the field storage tanks as we drove through on a Monday morning.

The next leg of the journey took us across the border into New Mexico. I thought Texas had a lot of oil, but the real action is going on in eastern New Mexico. There are easily three times as many wells in New Mexico as there are in Texas.  Less than an hour into NM we passed through a refinery. Yes, the road passed right through the darn thing. I had visions of the Union 76 refinery in the town of Lemont near our home that just happens to blow up every ten years or so. I pressed hard on the throttle to get the heck out of there. It would be just my luck that a once in a lifetime explosion happens as we drive through.

The journey continues westward to Alamagordo.

The terrain along the Texas-New Mexico border.

Busted

A few weeks ago Peggy and I were driving home from Santa Fé, New Mexico. We passed through Oklahoma on the Kilpatrick Turnpike. I am totally familiar with toll roads and auto payment lanes, but the signage in Oklahoma confused me. I saw a sign saying PIKEPASS and decided yep I want to go on the Pike. I blasted past the CASH exit at seventy when I realized my I-PASS wasn’t going to work. Had I made a sharp right turn across three lanes in a flash, I might have made it into the pay lane. Oops, Oh Well.

By the time I arrived home a week later, a letter waited for me from PIKEPASS. They had my complete name and address, the exact date, and time of the violation documented in a very nicely and politely written letter of reprimand.

I called them this morning to ask what the toll charge was. I gave them the Transaction Number and a nice voice asked, “is it a white Toyota Avalon?” She very politely forgave the charge. I asked the nice young lady what technology they used to catch my violation. She answered, “a camera took a picture of your rear license plate as you went through.”

I commended her on Oklahoma’s speed and efficiency in apprehending a violator. I said if this happened in Illinois, I wouldn’t get a letter for ten years. She laughed politely. I commented that I didn’t want to take the chance of getting a ticket on my next trip through and have the cuffs thrown on me for having a moving violation on record. She assured me that wouldn’t happen.

The reason I am relating this incident is that Big Brother is watching us with capabilities that are unbelievable.

Doesn’t it make you wonder what else Big Brother does to creep into our private lives?

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