- - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ninth in a series.

It is a simple “ask” — considering all the money supposedly spent on behalf of Americans ($3.8 trillion by the federal government in calendar 2013 alone) — for citizens to expect public servants to control our borders. If our borders are porous, none of us is secure.

Canada does an excellent job helping us with the 5,525-mile northern border, even though western portions of it run through inhospitable territory.

In contrast, neither U.S. political party has worked effectively with Mexico so that our 1,954-mile southern border can stem a perennial flood of intrusions, particularly across the 1,241-mile border with Texas.

Once America’s borders are secure and we decide what to do with the millions who entered and remain in the United States illegally, we then can attract talented immigrants from a supply of applicants that forever will dwarf our own population.

With their foreign contacts, legal immigrants will create and build businesses that serve global customers, swell our exports and generate badly needed foreign currency income to help lower our external debt, reckoned at $15.7 trillion as of year-end 2012, the most recent date for which comparable figures are available.

Target the root: Causes of illegal immigration

Challenged on many fronts, America remains the richest nation on earth, so it is no surprise that inhabitants of other nations will travel here in search of better lives.

Generally speaking, residents of nations lucky enough to constitute the highest 10 percent of income earners are least likely to emigrate — those within the bottom 90 percent may be more inclined to consider relocation.

It is no surprise that the flow of illegal immigrants is light from Canada into the United States. Income disparity is minor between the bottom 90 percent of Canadian households and American counterparts.

According to the CIA World Factbook, households below the top 10 percent in Canada earned an estimated $24,426 per capita in 2013, compared to $27,975 per capita for the comparable American cohort.

In contrast to the 13 percent disparity in per capita income between Canadian and U.S. households, the disparity between Mexican and American households in per capita income was 81 percent — Mexicans outside the top 10 percent of households earned just $5,294 in per capita income.

Curtailing the northward flow of illegal immigrants will involve a combination of creating an impermeable border; working with Mexico, where possible, to stimulate productive private sector employment there; and deciding how to curtail and manage the enormous appetite inside America for illegal drugs.

Invest in Mexico to build security for America

Compared to America, the infrastructure in Mexico appears woefully inadequate.

Mexico has 120.2 million people scattered over 733,000 square miles, 85,000 miles of paved roads, 124 airports with runways of 4,900 feet or longer, and just one heliport.

By contrast, the U.S. has 319 million people on 3.6 million square miles, 2.7 million miles of paved roads, 1,902 airports with runways of 4,900 feet or longer, and 5,287 heliports.

Moreover, Mexico has 62 million kilowatts of electricity-generating capacity, and the U.S. slightly more than 1 billion kilowatts.

Decisions to upgrade Mexico’s basic infrastructure to near-U.S. levels would entail trillions of dollars in investment and would be impossible to justify absent making significant changes inside Mexico and in relations between Mexico and the United States.

Why should America consider helping to make Mexico more competitive economically?

If we were able to break important ground on how America manages our internal problem with seemingly insatiable demand for illegal drugs and only if Mexico were to harmonize its legal system respecting private property rights, elected officials might reach a new, long-term understanding.

Mexico and the United States would tighten control over Mexico’s borders with Guatemala and Belize, a far less expensive option than concentrating simply upon our long border with Mexico.

A groundbreaking agreement would save the U.S. government hundreds of billions of dollars and maybe more. Afterward, facilitating investment in infrastructure inside Mexico would create employment there, while spurring demand for essential machinery and other products American companies might export.

Let’s improve our own national security by bringing relations with our most populous close neighbor into the 21st century.

Next: Harness technology to offer the finest education in the world

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