Turn back to 1989. The world was celebrating walls tumbling down and President Bush Sr. used the metaphor of walls crumbling down in his speech before signing the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA, he explained, is about breaking down barriers to access of all kinds.
Today, we have President Trump mocking disabled people and wishing above all to spend billions of dollars on a wall that one can fly over, build tunnels under, and use a boat to get around on both ends. The federal government has partially shut down because President Trump wants Congress to help him violate his own campaign promise that Mexico would build the wall Trump wants. Trump is trying to get his number one priority established before the next election because if he looks like a blowhard without a wall by November 2020, he will lose. Politicians who make such inflated promises lose in democratic elections.
Trump waited until Democrats took back control of the U.S. House this month and his political failure is driving the tantrum that we now see. A wall is not such an urgent matter that millions of U.S. federal workers needs to be furloughed and people lose their services. This wall is a want, not a need. I have personally dubbed Trump’s misbehavior a TanTrump!
My general feeling on immigration is based upon the idea that countries have unnecessarily carved up the world with borders and then imposed rules, reasonable or not, to prevent people from crossing these invisible lines. So if a guy like Trump can will a bad idea like his wall into existence, maybe I can offer some ideas on migration too:
1. Native American Migration Rights
Just a few hundred years ago, Native Americans, all related from Eskimos to Incas, could theoretically move across the landscape if they had the permission of the local tribes. So I think if people from South and Central America want to visit their cousins on a reservation in the United States, they should be able to get a visa from that tribe easily and have access to that reservation across US soil. In fact, here is an example of a tribe having freedom to travel.
There are many tribes that have attempted to issue passports, such as the Iroquois and the Cherokee. If a tribe invites people onto its reservation from another country and the visitors are also native people, no immigration issue should exist. If a person in Mexico can show that they have native background and heritage, the U.S. government should not be blocking them with any walls. And the fact is that many people in Mexico and farther south do have such heritage. So, the conversation in this regard should not be about a wall and who pays for it, but about welcoming other Native Americans from wherever in the Americas.
The more people who can come to the United States and visit a reservation or the sovereign territory of a tribe, the better the attachments and connections between tribes.
2. Canada-Mexico train connection
If someone wants to go to Canada to work, they should be able to get on a train on the Mexican side of the border and go straight to Canada, where they disembark. Why have trains to Canada? Because Canada needs workers to pick their crops and build their cities. Canada does not even require a visa for a Mexican who wishes to visit.
3. American travel and business visas for Mexicans
Of course, Mexicans treat American citizens much better than the United States treats Mexicans. Mexico does not require a visa for short business or personal travel for Americans. This is like the visa waiver program many countries have enacted to make travel easier. Notice how Mexico is not on the list of USA visa waiver countries.
If there is to be a wall, there should be much easier access using visas at the checkpoints. This will encourage those crossing the border for legitimate purposes to go through the checkpoint, and those going across for a criminal reason will be hampered, bad for them but neutral for “good visitors.”
4. Humane Limits on Birthright Citizenship Abuse
If Americans are concerned about women coming to the United States solely to get citizenship for their infants, then the USA should set up free clinics with free shelter and food on the Mexican side and allow them through only after their babies are born. This policy would avoid the 14th Amendment citizenship issue in a humane fashion. If a woman lies about being pregnant to have her child in the USA, that lie could strip the child of its invalid citizenship.
Every country has borders, but that does not mean they are all treated the same. To encourage travel and connections between countries, perhaps there should be an international endorsement on every passport showing if a person has significant disabilities and is therefore protected by national and international law. I approve of such endorsements and the obligations they create on countries, states, regions, and local governments to provide disability access and whatever it takes to make disabled people feel welcome and comfortable.
A passport with such an endorsement should entitle the person to a certain moderate amount of food and drink in an airport or other point of entry, everywhere around the world. Those smart chips in modern passports could act also as a debit card to provide these benefits. Not all of the features on a passport have to be about security. Some can be about benefits for travelers who need assistance.