I'm tired and it's late, but I'll endure the arrows and slings...Ian I agree with you on most of your points, but the reality of the whole situation sucks. I've lived on the border for 31 years and I'm convinced that most Americans have no idea of the realities of the immigration problems pertaining to both sides of the border. We all would like the ideal situation to exist for the benefit of all, that would be a wonderful thing.
There are already penalties in place for hireling illegals, but they are not enforceable. Here they are trying to enforce them and have with some success, but when I travel north like say to Colorado, I see that every kitchen in every resort town has illegals in the back either cooking or doing menial jobs. Illegal immigration is supported by our businesses and that in my mind is enabling the whole mess to continue. As is the drug problem we have, until people stop taking imported drugs, the importation and trafficking will not stop. This is a huge problem here. I hike the sections of the AZ Trail that no one else will cause they re too scared, the cartels have taken over our borderlands through fear, and I refuse to let that stop me but I'm armed and I'm crazy so don't mess with me cause I'm not afraid to use it. :-) and I grew up with Marines so I do recon all the time. We have jaguar here too by the way, nine sightings on camera by June of 2013 alone.
So in my wandering a I have also encountered illegals and had some interesting conversations about their realities. They cannot get VISAs, period. These are the survivors of civil wars and government programs of destruction. The authorities are simply not giving them out. Many countries south of us are full of desperate, starving people who have no choice but to try to go north. Along the way they are robbed and raped, taken advantage of by the coyotes and just recently we found dead ones with bullet holes in their heads, apparently they are paying to be led across, but are being executed when within sight of border towns. It's a real heartbreaking mess.
As far as "sealing the border". There realistically is no way to do it until we develop the technology to create a barrier that truly does seal the border. The terrain is very very rough, crosses alluvial fans and is a logistical nightmare for the BP to navigate. Those guys do their best, and believe it or not, most of them are very sympathetic and kind to border crossers that are not drug related. They spend most of their time doing rescues. We have UAV's we have night optics, heat sensors and other technologies to help us but it is still not enough. It is physically impossible now to catch all the crossers, they can only apprehend so many. We live in a war zone with helicopters, UAV, balloons and BP all over the place.
Criminals who are released from jails in Mexico and South America are actually encouraged to go north to America. They are in fact given comic books that tell them exactly how to do it, (apparently many of them cannot read) we have been finding them for decades down here, along with copies of the Koran and literature from Africa and all over the world. Those of us that found this stuff cleaning up acres of trash on our lease land and ranches reported it 30 years ago but we were ridiculed and ignored. You think we can keep the bad guys out. Heck they are already here. They just walked in one night and caught a ride north on I-10.
So the issue is very complicated. The people in Washington are very far away and insulated from the issue. Even Janet Neopolitano betrayed us in her own state after she left, she says there is no immigration problem and the border is safe......she's an idiot.
Perhaps handling it in "pieces" is the only way they can do it, it's so volatile. When the subject comes up I usually just leave. People are idealists. Nothing wrong with that but reality rears it's ugly head down here on a regular basis and people die on both sides all of the time and it's repressed. The morgues in Tucson are so full of illegal bodies they had to get more freezers, and those people REALLY see the reality of the situation more than anyone. It's a very sad situation and I truly wish we could just give those who really want to work green cards so they can work, cause it's obvious we have a bunch of fat spoiled and indulged Americans now who refuse to do the menial labor that immigrants are willing to do to live.
The criminal element is a whole nuther ball of wax. Just in my very rural neighborhood we have had mothers escorting their children to bus stops in the early morning assaulted and robbed of their vehicles by illegal criminals who think nothing of breaking into homes, robbing elderly Americans and starting fires in our National Forests as diversions for drug runs that cost us millions of dollars a year. But you won't hear all of this north of here, the information is squelched. We are forsaken and told we are crazy when we want to defend and protect ourselves.
I appreciate that you are thinking of the issue and would like to hear some solutions to the problem, and so would I, but the fact remains that things will continue to go the way they are cause someone in our government wants them to.....if they wanted to fix the problem it would be
solved. And quick. Those of us that live here think that someone is being paid off to let things continue the way they are cause there is money in it. Money talks. Everything else falls by the wayside, including peoples lives.