Our Country is Not Full

Our Country is Not Full

By Robert Scott

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

President Trump visited Calexico, California, last week to view firsthand the progress on securing our border with Mexico. He spoke about a new section of The Wall, and how “beautiful” it is, a section approved for renovation during the Obama administration. But the important message that he gave there was this: “Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry. Can’t happen. So turn around, that’s the way it is.”

The day before President Trump’s visit to Calexico, the New York Timesran an article headlined, “Short of Workers, U.S. Builders and Farmers Crave More Immigrants.” In that article, the Timesquoted an immigrant from the Mexican state of Oaxaca (about 300 miles from the Guatemala border) as saying, “A lot of people returned to Mexico after the housing bust, and then came the deportations. People got scarce. Now that the work came back they are short of people.” The housing bust was during the Bush 43 administration, and the deportations mostly during the Obama administration. The increased demand for workers started during the Obama recovery and continues now, in the Trump administration.

I was stationed in California for several tours of duty while in the Navy, before returning home to Edgefield County. I occasionally took a trip to the desert town of Calexico, California. It is a “twin city” on the border, with Mexicali, Baja California, adjacent to it in Mexico. There is – or was – a thriving cross-border economy, with workers, tourists, and shoppers crossing in both directions daily. Calexico was a gateway for farm workers who were needed for work in the irrigated deserts to the north as well as in California’s agricultural heartland, the Central Valley. The California drought has passed, and water is again plentiful; the Central Valley is producing crops at full capacity, and, legal or not, California needs immigrant farm workers.

Another President Trump – apparently a different person – said in February, “I need people coming in because we need people to run the factories and plants and companies that are moving back in. We need people.”

As is frequently the case with this particular President, those who listen carefully find it difficult to decide which Trump to believe: the one who spoke one way on a topic just the other day, or the one who spoke the opposite way on the same topic today. It is difficult to say that he was wrong both times, but it is impossible to say that he was right both times.

The truth is, our country is NOT full. The birth rate among native-born American citizens is now insufficient to maintain our current population; absent immigration, our country would have fewer Americans each year. We need immigrants to build our country (both literally and figuratively) in the Twenty-First Century. We still need other nations – including those in Latin America – to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”