Belmont Club

Que sera, sera

Dallas News describes government assisted immigration fraud driven by the fact that since there weren’t enough Spanish-language teachers to instruct immigrants, schools had to import illegal immigrants to teach them.

Years after being advised by a state agency to stop, the Dallas Independent School District continued to provide foreign citizens with fake Social Security numbers to get them on the payroll quickly.

Some of the numbers were real Social Security numbers already assigned to people elsewhere. And in some cases, the state’s educator certification office unknowingly used the bogus numbers to run criminal background checks on the new hires, most of whom were brought in to teach bilingual classes.

The practice was described in an internal report issued in September by the district’s investigative office, which looked into the matter after receiving a tip. The report said the Texas Education Agency learned of the fake numbers in 2004 and told DISD then that the practice “was illegal.”

It’s unclear how long DISD had been issuing the phony numbers, and district officials didn’t know Thursday how many had been given out. But the investigative report and interviews with DISD employees indicate the practice went on for several years before it was discontinued this past summer.

The idea that public policy is driven by some kind of rational calculation of what is best for the “nation” may eventually give way to the view that policy is really the art of following the line of least resistance. The power of least resistance was illustrated by illegal immigrants seeking the weakest way through the rising border fence. It has had the effect of shifting the pattern of illegal immigration as a recent article in the Economist explains.

The reason so many immigrants are tramping through Mr Johnston’s neighbourhood can be found 12 miles to the south-west. Around Sasabe, steel cylinders have been sunk into the desert to create an imposing fence. That has blocked a popular migration route and driven people east. No More Deaths, a humanitarian group, has drawn up a map of migration routes based on how much water and food disappears. It looks like a leaf skeleton—a pattern of interlocking lines snaking north through the desert, then east to just above a checkpoint. From there, immigrants are driven to Tucson and Phoenix, whence they travel to wherever there are jobs.

By the end of this year the American government is supposed to have erected 670 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Roughly half of the barrier is designed to stop everything bigger than a jackrabbit; the other half will let people through but stop vehicles. It is just part of a drive, stepped up in the past two years, to clamp down on illegal immigration and drug-smuggling. The Border Patrol is swelling from fewer than 6,000 officers in 1996 to more than 18,000 by next year. Unmanned watchtowers bristling with cameras and heat sensors are being developed. Finally, checks at proper border crossings are becoming more rigorous.

But lest anyone think the fence is starting to achieve it’s purpose, there are worries among economic and political interests that the fence may become too watertight. Businesses which depend on Mexican shopping demand or labor, politicians who depend on their votes, are all anxious for different reasons. The result is that the fence will never quite work, because not everybody wants it to. The line of least resistance will be to keep everybody happy. Illegal immigration will continue, but only the pattern will change. The Economist thinks the illegal immigrants will eventually stop coming across when conditions on both sides of the border equalize, with the laws of osmosis achieving what government will always fail to achieve.

complaints about illegal immigration will probably become more muted. Hispanics are slowly acquiring political heft to match their large presence in America; in some states, such as California and New Mexico, they are already powerful enough to punish tough talk. Perhaps more important, Mexico is changing. The country has zoomed towards a first-world birth rate. In the late 1970s the average woman could expect to give birth to five children; now she gives birth to two. As a result, the potential supply of border-crossers will gradually drop. … While the wage gap between America and Mexico persists, Mexicans will continue to “find themselves” in the American labour force, fence or no fence.

The government’s really there to help you. But it all depends on who “you” is.