From the Ventura County Star:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Sen. Joe Biden, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's incoming chairman, wants to get tough with Mexico, calling it an "erstwhile democracy" with a "corrupt system" responsible for illegal immigration and drug problems in the U.S.

Biden, D-Del., was in Columbia on Monday in his first postelection trip to this first-in-the-South presidential primary state as he continues to line up support for his presidential bid.

During a question-and-answer session before more than 230 Columbia Rotary Club members, Biden was asked about immigration problems.

Biden, who favors tightening the U.S.-Mexico border with fences, said immigration is driven by money in low-wage Mexico.

"Mexico is a country that is an erstwhile democracy where they have the greatest disparity of wealth," Biden said. "It is one of the wealthiest countries in the hemisphere and because of a corrupt system that exists in Mexico, there is the 1 percent of the population at the top, a very small middle class and the rest is abject poverty."

Unless the political dynamics change in Mexico and U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants are punished, illegal immigration won't stop. "All the rest is window dressing," he said.
Biden actually makes some decent points, though his word choice leaves something to be desired. The problem is that all of this runs under the headline "Biden: Blame immigration woes on Mexico."

In many ways, the immigration problem is rooted in Mexico/Latin America. People don't emigrate from a place with a reasonable quality of life. For many potential (illegal and legal) immigrants a job, financial and personal security, some freedom, and a future that looks better than the present would do much more than a multi-million dollar fence to convince them to stay out of the United States.

Achieving goals like those for one nation, such as Mexico, is hard enough. Trying to improve the lives of people across Central America is a gargantuan task.

On top of that, it would require U.S. investment in those nations.

If trying to justify spending federal tax dollars to improve the quality of life for Mexican citizens in Mexico sound like political suicide, it's because it would be. In the xenophobic environment that GOP immigration agitators have created, 'the problem' actually transcends immigration.

For people like Tom Tancredo and the Minute Men, this is about making sure that anybody of Latino descent in the United States doesn't get any sort of help they 'don't deserve.'

Proof? Look at the laws that are meant to prevent 'illegal immigrants' (code for Latinos) from being eligible for any number of government programs, from emergency medical care through Medicaid to student lunches.

For many Immigration Hawks, the idea that Washington stopping illegal immigration by investing in Mexican infrastructure is about as appealing as offering aid to Iran and North Korea in an effort to have them abandon their nuclear weapons program.

To step into a Lakoffian analysis for a moment, any Immigration Hawk adheres to the Strict Father Model is going to see this investment as rewarding bad behavior. Adherents to the Nurturant Parent Model will see it as helping people get what they need for themselves.

Though I believe support could be found for a Mezzo-American Investment Program, the long time it would take for the program to bear fruit is another strike against it. It would take decades of investment, concerted anti-corruption efforts, and government restructurings in multiple nations for the necessary changes to be seen on the ground. Worse yet, the powerful 'establishment' institutions in these nations, as well as American interests that profit from them or through them would work very hard to prevent any change that could lead to a loss of power or profit.

When all is said and done, fence is probably cheaper and in the short term a fence would be more effective. But the fence would only be treating a symptom. For any real progress to be made on immigration, the cause - poverty in Latin America - must be addressed.

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