The debate in Washington seems like a world away for most Americans living in quiet small towns. However, for residents of Border States who have been apprehensively watching Congress’s plan to secure the border and ensure their safety, they are not encouraged by what they are hearing.
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The frustration that residents of Border States are experiencing lies with the disparity between what they feel should be done and what Congress is planning on doing. “The problem is, you’ve got this huge Congress and most of them don’t live on the border and they’re the ones who are going to decide what we do,” said El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles. The reality is that there are sometimes three layers of fencing along with terrain too treacherous to cross, so despite popular belief, most people do not want Congress to put up more fencing. Members of U.S. Border Patrol also stand post guarding the border every thousand feet so locals do not want more agents to be put at the border either. Lawmakers should instead consider the economic benefits of legal immigration. About 20 percent of $500 billion traded annually between the U.S. and Mexico comes through ports and entry along the border. This number could increase if the trucks carrying these goods could pass through faster.
More than 100,000 jobs in the border state regions rely on the lawful movement of people, goods and services between the two countries. Rather than completely separating us from Mexico, it would be better for Congress to make it easier for guest workers to cross and undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows. “It would seem to me that the key to immigration reform is providing some type of work visas to shuffle out those who are just here to work and many times want to go home,” Wiles said. “They want to come, work, support their families and eventually go home.” Before Congress makes a final decision about immigration reform it may be a good idea to talk with those who live by the border each day and see the problems first hand. “Anybody who lives outside of a border community needs to come here and see how commerce and trade flows across the bridge” says Cindy Ramos-Davidson, chief executive of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
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