Sustainable food production at our border may be the answer.
The Mexican “Braceros” worked in agriculture in the US through the Bracero Program during the early phases of World War II and it ended about 20 years later. The Catholic Church in Mexico didn’t like that families were being separated, but the program ended largely due to labor disputes and strikes. This single program paved important politics between the US and Mexico (with Mexico being the underdog) during and after the program unfolded.
The program had problems, but a modern day resurrection seems like a good solution to the displaced Mexican farm workers (for instance) caught-up in matters like NAFTA changes and social problems in Mexico. But, legal immigration, through programs like these, would solve so many problems at our border, and could work again, since we know one program had a life span of over twenty years.
With the idea of growing desert crops – like watermelons, apples, green onions, cucumbers, corn, hot peppers, melons, bell peppers, radishes, carrots, cabbage, soybeans, pears, tomatoes, squash and spinach – using modern-day sustainable food production techniques, I’m wondering if a program like the Bracero could be resurrected AT our vast border? Putting migrants to work at the border, for a fair wage, could solve a lot of problems. Schools and decent abodes could forge new communities, just inside the US border. That food could then be sold back to Mexico or the US, or better yet make a dent in feeding world hunger, in exchange for the wages, housing and education benefits paid to the migrant workers. If there’s a deficit from food sold that doesn’t stack-up to labor and education costs, it seems those could be offset from what we’d save in detaining and incarcerating illegal immigrants. Rather, we put these people, fairly, to work at our border. Unskilled and illegal immigrants could be taught how to farm there too, for that same fair wage, so they are better equipped to take care of their families when they go back to Mexico, if their entrance into the country is only short term. But, when they leave, they take new skills and newly acquired education with them back to their own countries to better IT, not OURS.
If people coming in, truly want to work for an honest pay, that’s a good way to find out quickly. Perhaps the best workers, committed to the program, could earn their ticket fully into the US, with their families, after a period of time through a farm-release program. Given the sheer number of people approaching our borders, that’s a lot of new food production.
These are just some of my thoughts from a social entrepreneurial lens. I know it would be a massive undertaking. Our federal prison is currently comprised, by 14%, of Mexican citizens. Extraditing them back to Mexico, could raise over $800,000,000 per year to fund the program.
Perhaps it’s time for a border within our border, letting good people in and weeding bad people out.
These are just my musings, and one crazy idea on a potential solution to a big problem. I, for one, would like to hear less political banter from both sides, and more mindshare on our problems with potential solutions. The conversation is so much more productive that way.
So what’s the problem and how do we fix it?
(Photographs are my own. I took them while traveling and working extensively throughout Nicaragua through The Finding Corte Magore Project.)