Letter to the Editor: Solve the Root Cause of Illegal Immigration

Donald Trump continues to champion his wall, issuing threats to shut down the government again or to declare a national emergency. He will not consider other solutions to the immigration challenge. He has told the bipartisan Conference Committee formed to study border security that they are wasting their time if their recommendations do not include a wall. This is a classic case of “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.” A border wall will not work; we need to address the political and economic conditions that drive migration to the United States.

People immigrate illegally to the United States primarily because of jobs. They know that many employers do not check the status of people they hire; hence we have undocumented (illegal) immigrants working in the United States (an estimated 11 million). Most of them are good hardworking people; some of them have been here for many years and live in fear that they will be discovered and deported.

We have an “E-Verify” process that was put in place in 1996 that employers can use to check the documentation of hires. If every employer used this system, it would be much more difficult for immigrants to obtain jobs in the United States; thus, the flow of illegal immigrants would be greatly diminished.

But the E-verify process is voluntary. Many employers do not use it, so they can hire illegal immigrants (at lower wages). If the illegal immigrants are discovered, the employer can simply say they were not aware of the worker’s status.

In 2016, Donald Trump stated that he used E-verify in his businesses, and that companies that hire undocumented workers should suffer a “huge financial penalty.” Yet Eric Trump announced this morning (Jan. 30, 2019) that E-verify would be instituted in all Trump properties, including the Bedminster, N.J. golf club that had undocumented workers on its payroll; some of them had been employed for a dozen or more years. Last month, workers at another Trump property claimed that managers at the property hired them knowing that they were in the country illegally.

Rather than build an ineffective and wasteful wall (solely to deliver on a silly campaign promise), why not solve the root cause of the problem?  Why didn’t Donald Trump make E-verify mandatory (and impose financial penalties for non-compliance) on day one of his presidency?

William F. Grady III

Mequon, Wis.