Common sense needed - Brownsville Herald: Letters To The Editor

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Common sense needed

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Posted: Friday, May 10, 2019 11:21 pm

Texans, especially those of us who live and work on the border, support President Donald Trump’s efforts to enhance border security. But here along the Texas border, where the Rio Grande separates Mexico and Texas, a wall is unnecessary. Even worse, the recent threat to seal the border would have had disastrous economic

DENNIS E. N IXON consequences on both sides of the border.

Closing the border with Mexico, America’s thirdlargest trading partner, would disrupt supply chains, trigger price increases and lead to immediate layoffs while causing an imperceptible effect on illegal immigration.

According to a statement from Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. trade with Mexico exceeds $1.7 billion daily, and nearly half a million people legally cross the southern border every day as workers, students, shoppers and tourists.

In Laredo, we’d rather see common-sense security solutions that deter illegal immigration and smuggling without such a detrimental impact to our economy. Yes, we need better security along the U.S.-Mexico border. We need it at our legal ports of entry, where drug smuggling and human smuggling occurs. And we need an unobstructed river with visibility in areas where Border Patrol and local law enforcement can stand between our Texas communities and violent cartels.

But what is most needed is reform of our legal immigration system. The surge in migrants arriving at the southern border can be addressed in sensible ways without a complete closure of our border.

We need the federal government to assign the personnel necessary to quickly process asylum claims. Congress can modify the asylum laws to narrow legitimate claims and expedite the process.

Even though the immediate threat to close the border has passed, the situation remains economically destructive. With the recent spike in people crossing the border in search of asylum, border personnel resources have been diverted from the various ports of entry.

This action has reduced staff at the ports and massively affected the ability of people and commerce to legally cross the border. Crossing times have jumped 200 percent to 300 percent in each port affected.

To highlight only one example, Customs and Border Protection normally processes 8,000 northbound trucks on a daily basis at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo. According to a recent CBP briefing, they are currently processing only 5,000, with 3,000 trailers backed up in Mexico. This is an especially perilous situation, as this is one of the busiest times of the year for travel from Mexico to the United States.

The inability to quickly and efficiently move through our legal ports of entry has already cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars. We cannot continue to be successful if we continue to impede cross-border trade. With so much trade crossing the border every day that supports millions of U.S. jobs, we simply cannot afford to close the border.

Immigration reform is also critical in the long term when it comes to providing the human capital required to keep our growth rate at or above 3 percent annually. The United States, like every other industrialized nation, is facing a demographic winter, a threat explained with mathematical precision by Jonathan V. Last in his book, “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting.”

When the total fertility rate — or birth rate — of a country falls below 2.1 children per female, that country’s population will shrink, as it has in large parts of Europe, Asia and elsewhere. Without a rising number of workers to prime the economic pump, robust economic growth simply cannot be sustained. No people, no economy.

Here in Texas, leaders in the food service, hospitality and agricultural industries say we already face a severe labor shortage that is starting to inhibit our growth potential.

We want President Trump to keep the wrong people out of Texas and the rest of the country. But we also want to keep our border open to the commerce and legal immigrants who have always contributed to making Texas and the United States an increasingly prosperous place.

Dennis E. Nixon is CEO of International Bank of Commerce in Laredo and chairman of the board of International Bancshares Corp.

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