Vermont is a Border State Too

The state of Vermont resides between New York to the West, and New Hampshire to the East, with Massachusetts to the South and Canada lying along its northern border. Often, I forget that Vermont is just one state that borders a foreign country, save for the occasional trip to Montreal every year or two, or an irregular security check point set up along I-91 that runs the length of the state. Quite simply, immigration and issues with the border rarely become an issue here.

The recent events that have transpired in Arizona brings an acute reminder that other states have problems with their borders, with illegal immigrants coming across the border and all of the issues that comes along with an influx of foreign individuals. While I am largely horrified by the law that has just been passed in the state, I am forced to see, understand and accept the reasons for which it was implemented.

Arizona and a number of the states that border Mexico have legitimate issues with illegal immigration. I’ve always felt that the United States should have the right to determine who enters the country, and with a porous border, there will always be a level of uncertainty as to who, and what is moving across the border. This transcends race and nationality as an issue, and relates directly to national security issues. This event demonstrates the level of frustration that a state has with the lack of responsibility and action that the federal government has taken when it comes to securing the border, taking actions into their own hands. In all likelihood, the state’s right to supersede the federal government’s will be slapped down by the courts, which makes me wonder if a law such as this is just something designed to get a lot of attention to a particular issue.

The issues here is that given the demographics of the region, with a wide mix of legal and illegal immigrants as well as naturalized and natural-born citizens, determining who is supposed to be in the country is difficult, and the state has granted unprecedented powers to detain and deport people without papers. In all likelihood, the massive amounts of national attention on the law will be sufficient to hold the police and other state officials in Arizona in line. The first person who is wrongly accused, detained and deported will cause further public relations and legal issues for governmental officials. What scares me is not so much the law, but the potential for its abuse by state officials, and for local citizens, who can prompt action from their local police forces. A collective effort to govern is not necessarily the best method of government, but collective action to enforce potential laws seems worse. The argument that people should trust their police is something that I have a very hard time accepting.

The solution won’t rely on the enforcement and vilification of the illegal immigrants by deporting them. The reasons for the problem in the first place need to be dealt with at the source – on both sides of the border. Vermont has not enacted this law for very good reasons: we don’t have the problem with immigration that the southern states seem to. My one encounter with a random Border Patrol team is a unique event, and if the problem was worse, I’m sure that I would see a heightened presence from them. But, Canada is a fairly stable country, with a large scale economy, and with a population that isn’t desperate for a new life here in the United States. Issues across the border become our issues, and any plan that Congress will most likely soon be looking into should include ways to help Mexico mobilize its own economy and work on retaining their workers, while working out our own policies towards immigration in this country.

I don’t see immigration as a bad thing for the country. After all, we all have our roots as newcomers here to the country, but more importantly, new people, diversity and change to our demographic makeup gives the country a unique perspective, with numerous viewpoints, ways to approach issues and to look at the world. We’re stronger for it, and I hope that Arizona’s law, and crucially, its mindset leading up to it, will never come to the Green Mountain State.

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2 thoughts on “Vermont is a Border State Too

  1. I work with immigrants every day and call many of them my friends. Nigerian, Ukrainian, Venezuelan, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian… all of them have had a vibrancy that I have appreciated them bringing into my life. They didn’t just come here to work, they came here to be Americans and they have embraced this country with a love that you do not find with its average native born citizens. That is where I have to note a clear delineation between legal and illegal immigration. Because the ones I mentioned before are “legal” immigrants, much like my great grandfather who came here from Ireland.

    I have worked in heavy industry for 13 years now and I have seen on occasion illegal alien work crews work on projects. This was unfathomable a few years before in a unionized steel company. Why were they hired? They made much less than what other skilled legal workers would be paid. They paid no social security or income taxes. They were held to no labor laws, they worked hours that I and my men would not be allowed to do. They worked with little regard to the safety precautions that we normally undertook. None of them spoke out of turn… because they were terrified of being sent back. There is a word for that when you work a man to exhaustion with little compensation and regard for their safety and use fear to keep them in line. It’s called slavery. That’s not right.

    I have many friends in Border States and they have given me many examples of the same thing. One friend has his family employ illegals at their farm. The pay and work conditions that they were subjected to is flat out criminal for any regular citizen, but his family’s workers do not make a peep for fear of losing their job.

    This is a problem that has been around for some time and NEITHER national party has wanted to solve it. The republicans that love the cheap labor want the illegals here to work, but they do not want them to vote. The Democrats who do not want the competition with their unions want the illegals here. They want them to vote, but they do not want them to work. Is what happened in Arizona bad law? It sure is, but I can understand why it happened. The federal government has abdicated its responsibility. That is what causes bad law. I only hope that the attention that is now on this issue would cause something to be done.

  2. Well said. I completely agree with most of it. Hopefully, this law will do what I’m guessing it’s intended to go: leverage the Government to take more action.

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