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Joe Guzzardi Why Gov. Rick Perry is wrong about a border fence

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Joe Guzzardi

Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:44 am, Sat Oct 1, 2011.

Rick Perry can't get out of his own way. During the presidential debates, he has reviled three immigration issues that Republicans hold dear: passing mandatory E-Verify legislation, rejecting federal and state versions of the DREAM Act, and building a border fence.

About E-Verify, Perry foolishly claims that it would not make "a hill of beans" worth of difference. Regarding the DREAM Act, Perry said that those who disagree with his decision to enact it in 2001 "don't have a heart." As for the border fence, Perry insists that it is "idiocy" to build it.

The debates represented Perry's chance to moderate his immigration rhetoric, more in line with liberal Democrats than restrictionist Republicans, and reach out to skeptical conservatives. Instead, by performing his difficult-to-achieve hat trick, Perry has turned off most of the GOP and has dropped from the top of the candidates' list to also-ran status.

Even John McCain, who during his 25-year Congressional career advocated for every Hispanic cause presented to him, realized during his 2008 campaign a fence's importance — symbolically, if nothing else. McCain, exasperated, finally said: "I'll build the G.D. fence." If candidate McCain can support a fence, then Perry can also. But it's too late for Perry now.

For decades, the thought that the federal government would construct a fence along the United States' shared border with Mexico has been dismissed as impractical or offensive to our southern neighbor. Before an intelligent discussion about how useful a fence might be in slowing down illegal immigration, doubters spout off a barrage of silly statements. Try one this one from Perry on for size: "If you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets real good."

The most often repeated argument against a fence is that building it would be too expensive. But no critic has ever analyzed what a fence would cost versus the billions saved by not having to provide social services to millions of illegal immigrants. And no one ever did the math related to building a fence or weighed the construction's total expense against other federal budget line items.

Edwin S. Rubenstein, president of ESR Research who has earned economics and public finance degrees from Johns Hopkins and Columbia University, took a pencil to paper to crunch the fence numbers. Rubenstein performed his original research, still valid today, in 2006. I've adjusted his calculations for inflation.

The first question Rubenstein asked is, how is it possible that the government can build 40,000 miles of Interstate highway but not 2,000 miles of border fence? The obvious answer is that the government could easily build the fence — if it had the political will to do it.

Several years ago, 14 miles of fence was built near San Diego that cost $1.4 million per mile. The Israeli fence along the West Bank border cost about the same. Rubenstein multiplied $1.4 million by the southern border's length (1,951 miles) to arrive at $3.3 billion. Adjusted for inflation, the total becomes $3.9 billion. To emphasize what a comparatively modest project a border fence would be, Rubenstein noted that $3.9 billion is approximately 0.7 percent of the U.S. Defense Department budget.

Fencing is affordable and, as seen in San Diego, effective. Detractors insist a fence is too expensive and will never work. But the evidence contradicts them.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:23 am on Wed, Oct 5, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    Are we to conclude YOU of all people are opposed to allowing illegal children of illegal immigrants access to in-state tuition? And would you please clarify what you mean by the term illegal children.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:24 pm on Mon, Oct 3, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Though Rick Perry is essentially a blowhard cowboy (a al GWB) and an unelectable Republican candidate, i.e., his immigration policies, he actually has the sense to acknowledge that a fence would be a folly and to not allow illegal children of illegal immigrants access to in-state tuition, is perhaps his crowning achievment in logical thinking.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 11:19 am on Mon, Oct 3, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    I don't know - if China was able to build a wall that can be seen from outer space, why can't we construct a fence as one part to keep our borders secure? Ever been to China, Mr. Wyatt?

    By the way, I used to live in Texas (Houston) during the mid to late 70s. From Beaumont to El Paso, what a God-awful place! Upon separating from the Air Force in 1985 I was given the choice of transportation to Texas (where I enlisted and where most of my family resided) or California (where I re-enlisted prior to an overseas assignment and where I had no family). Guess where I chose to land? Each time I've visited the Lone Star State and enjoyed the hospitality of the "Don't Mess with Texas" crowd, I'm immediately reminded as to why I chose California. Of course that’s not to say that there might be some delightful places to visit; but I would never want to live there permanently.

  • Account Deleted posted at 4:13 am on Sun, Oct 2, 2011.

    Jesse Hallum Posts: 57

    Good fences make good neighbors. I supprt building an inexpensive 8-ft. chain link fence that is well-marked with "stop - do not enter without permission" signs, backed up with a well-equipped border patrol that has the duty and authority to enforce existing law.

    However, there is no point in putting in any type of fence without first enforcing existing federal immigration laws. I would also like to see the legal immigration red-tape reduced so that decent, law-abiding people can easily move here if they wish. I agree with Joe's assertion that NOT enforcing immigration laws is hugely expensive, and that our next President should make this a priority.

  • Dave Francis posted at 12:46 pm on Sat, Oct 1, 2011.

    Brittanicus1 Posts: 3

    Momentum building for the use of mandatory E-Verify nationwide.

    E-Verify! So what is E-Verify? E-Verify originated at some stage in President Bush administration in 1986. This computer verification system has been updated and revised over many years and now growing in popularity, amongst the 271, 460 honest business concerns, as of last June. Then since the 1986 Simpson/Mazzoli bill (The Immigration Reform and Control (IRCA) Act) intended to stop the flow after the mass amnesty but the surge of illegal persons has not stopped and now the population has risen above 20 million or more. E-Verify require employers to inspect documentation from each newly hired employee, to prove his or her identity and eligibility to be hired in the United States. This act led to the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, requiring employees to confirm of their work eligibility, and employers to certify that the documents presented credibly appear to be legitimate and to relate to the individual. The only problem where the E-Verify is concerned today, it’s not mandated and only on a volunteer basis in most situations.

    There is a misconception about illegal aliens working for farmers and the giant agricultural industries. Usually the children are with the parents, so they go to public school. Those children must be educated to k-12, hence the problem that must be addressed, is that farm owners pay nothing for their schooling and in the majority of instances. The business owners also contribute nothing towards the families health care and a sick worker are introduced to the nearest emergency room as uninsured individual who must rely on the hospitals being reimbursed by other patients higher rates or the U.S. taxpayer.

    This is not anything about anti-Hispanic, black, white, Asian or any other nationality. There is a huge space between the legal and illegal? Plus these illegal newcomer majorities have no interest in assimilation; learning the language but here for all the money entitlement programs. Research what foreign nationals can claim—IN YOUR STATE-- that are denied to the gullible taxpayers. It’s specific in condemning 30 years of unfortunate administrations of nonchalant enforcement of illegal immigration. This is completely indifferent to the after effects of growing populations of people without no papers and no rights. We must hope that the next president has a policy of strengthening our boundaries and our immigration laws, which entails policing with E-Verify, Secure Communities and the 287G federal training policies for local authorities.

    Thanks to patriotic Americans as Kris Kobach, a constitutional lawyer and the Kansas Secretary of State, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County, Tom Tancredo urgent message of this never ending invasion, has suddenly flowed to the surface and the people have finally realized the monetary, social consequences of this spreading poverty.

    Doesn’t it seem disgusting when our own government has turned on its own population? Our own Department of IN-Justice, attacks its own states that need federal protection. State officials are trying to survive the onslaught of violent criminals, amid the growing prevalence of drunken drivers who kill and the economic aliens pouring into every community throughout this country.

    This year Rep. Lamar Smith's has sponsored a mandated E-Verify bill (H.R. 2885), known as the “Legal Workforce Act" to substantiate as the most predominant problem solver for Americans in the jobless lines. Lamar Smith's E-Verify bill is the only true method we have, to contain this contagion of people, who think they are justified in trespassing in this sovereign nation. For years the federal government has ignored the claims, that they have ignored the mass movement of illegal aliens entering America illegally. It was the prior Wednesday that the House Judiciary Committee passed Smith's Legal Workforce Act afternoon 22-to-13. Only two amendments were approved by the committee, including one offered by Chairman Smith himself. The bill, H.R.2885, would require all employers to use E-Verify within 2 years for all non-agricultural new hires, while requiring federal, state and local agencies to check current employees as well within 6 months.

    In Alabama a federal judge Blackburn opened the door to further enforcement, which next to E-Verify is the most extreme law in the land, against the illegal alien invasion. Alabama, Indiana, Georgia and Arizona are the only states who have passed state laws, to protect its own legal citizens that are not in favor of financially supporting anybody who slips across our permeable fence or dodges other port entries. It’s understandable that every foreigner who is poor, the deprived want to come to America. But with our own citizens, green card holders and legal foreigners hurting financially, no illegal alien should ever be hired, now or ever.

    The financials are astronomical either through legal means or through extensive fraud. Whether its most entitlement being absorbed by the foothold baby citizenship law, or the crushing effect of money in health care, education and imprisonment. Billions of dollars have gone to satisfy people who have come through sponsorship, using the CHAIN MIGRATION laws. These laws have been forced upon us by the courts, that laid down the law that taxpayers must financially support people from abroad, whether we like it or not.

    A permanent, E-Verify in future terms will become the most important tool, to divide legal workers from foreign nationals, returning the opportunity to all persons here legally. All the information on those who are out to defeat it and everything you want to know is available at NumbersUSA and Judicial Watch. Readers are offered the chance to read daily newspaper information, which generally is not seen in the Liberal press and startling disclosures at their website.

    You as a taxpayer and a voter can attribute your influence, to millions of TEA PARTY members, independents, lost liberals, Democrats and Republicans by adding to the people’s push for America’s new lease on life. Contact your own local Senator or Representative or federal politician at 202-224-3121. Do you yearn to stop to illegal immigration, a brand new tax code with no loopholes for the wealthy or corporation and other slippery entities? Do you desire smaller government and uncorrupted lawmakers? Do you crave fair Trade Treaties, not what we have at this present time? Only the TEA PARTY can give you the freedom from overreaching government; the reams of regulations are stopping people from creating new businesses.

    No Copyright ever. Americans must be exposed to the truth, not lies. Become a Whistle Blower if you notice illegal alien hired or working, to ICE at) division at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (866-347-2423). SEE SOMETHING? DO SOMETHING?

    One Old Vet saying, “Stand next to me and you’ll never stand alone.”

    MY EARLIER BLOGS: http://brittanicus-enoughisenough.blogspot.com

  • Lawrence Wyatt posted at 8:54 am on Sat, Oct 1, 2011.

    lew Posts: 1

    I am a Texan and I lived and worked in CA for 6 years which included a stay in Lodi for a few days. Mr. Guzzardi, have you ever been to Texas? Have you been to Big Bend National Park which borders Mexico? Have you been to the farmland below El Paso which borders the Rio Grande? Have you been to the Rio Grande Valley which runs from Zapata to Brownsville and is home to citrus orchards and rich farm land?

    Building a 30 ft fence along the Rio Grande River would be an injustice to nature as well as humanity. I can see building a border along the border with Mexico from the Pacific Ocean to the Rio Grande River. However, myself and millions of Texans take exception to an ugly fence along our beautiful river.

    What if a fence was proposed along the entire face of the Pacific Ocean to make sure that illegal workers and drug smugglers could not land on any of the waterfront? Would you favor that?

    Illegal workers and drug smugglers, although they probably share some common ground, are too different occurrences. How many illegal workers are hired and work in Lodi and the surrounding farmland? Instead of a physical fence, why don't you have the city and the state put up a fence of "No Jobs for Illegal Aliens"?

    There are more than one way to skin a cat. Some are much more effective than others. The latter is probably much more effective than 30 ft of steel fence.


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