News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Feliz Navidad, but obey American immigration law

For decades, there has been an easy atmosphere along the border with Mexico as people come and go on a daily basis.

Controversy, though, strains the peace and goodwill of the season this year as leaders of both nations struggle to cope with the one-way flow of illegal workers into the United States.

No one knows for sure, but government officials believe that some 10 million Mexican citizens are living in this country, and half of them are here illegally. Sending money home accounts for more than $16 billion annually, which represents Mexico's second highest source of foreign currency behind oil exports.

Mexican officials are angry that the United States is considering a fence along the border as a way to stop the steady flow of illegal immigrants. They compare the proposed fence to the Berlin Wall.

But those officials share responsibility for the growing concern here over the problem and for the talk of a fence. They do nothing to discourage the migration, and in some cases encourage export of cheap labor.

Mexicans find the proposed 700 miles of additional fencing shameful and don't want it built. One means of opposing it is to hire an American public relations firm to improve Mexico's image and make people in this country more willing to accept these workers.

Those people, however, miss the point about illegal immigration. Most Americans, but not those who hire cheap illegal workers, want the nation's immigration law enforced against Hispanics just as the government enforces it when illegal Haitians attempt to slip ashore.

The situation continues to create ill will on both sides of the Rio Grande and both governments are to blame.

Doing nothing won't solve the problem, nor will building a long fence.

We either change our laws or we enforce them, and ask the Mexican government to cooperate.

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