Perhaps it’s the distance – 7600 miles from home. Perhaps it’s the time I’ve spent away from home. I’ve been on the U.S. mainland for all of twelve days during the past four months. Maybe it’s the smattering of political and economic systems I’ve seen during our global adventure so far; or what I’ve learned by studying the foreign press wherever I go. Or, heck, maybe it’s just the spectacular laser light show across the Hong Kong skyline I’m watching from the work desk in my hotel room at this very moment.

Whatever the reasons, I am more certain than ever what I would do if I were President. This will begin a series entitled “What I Would Do If I were President”.

Protect Our Borders

1. I’d build a serious wall across our southern border. Period. While I would prefer to work with Congress, if it failed to cooperate I would invoke the War Powers Act to get the job done immediately. I would not link construction of the wall, or the security of our borders generally, with any other issue, including the issue of visiting worker programs. I would secure our borders first.

About a million people were apprehended trying to illegally enter the U.S. last year. It is estimated that about three million people per year attempt to sneak in. Obviously, most succeed.

The Chinese built the Great Wall with manual labor across terrain far more challenging than our southern border. Estimates are that the wall extended up to 4,000 miles. Our southern border extends 1,952 miles, and while we need to build a serious wall, we certainly don’t need one nearly as formidable as China’s. Meanwhile, we have the benefit of modern construction technology to get the job done once and for all. China built their wall for the same perfectly legitimate reason we must build ours: To keep people out.

There are only three ways to stop anyone from entering an area: (1) A barrier; (2) technology; or (3) personnel. The fence now being constructed piecemeal across our southern border is too easily breached, and will too frequently deteriorate. This will require larger long-term expenditures in personnel and technology.

Let’s put it simply: Walls work better than fences. And a wall will greatly reduce the long-term expense of protecting our border. Remember, this problem will not go away in our lifetime. Not hardly. We need a permanent barrier.

That’s why, if I were President, I’d build the wall.

And, please, let’s not apologize for doing so. The flood of humanity illegally pouring across our border represents the largest national security threat of my lifetime. We 301 million Americans comprise just five percent of the world’s 6 billion population. Everywhere I’ve gone, everyone I meet wants to come to America.

We have the most welcoming immigration laws in the world; but each time an unskilled, un-sponsored unemployed person sneaks across our border and stays, they diminish the opportunity for the countless skilled, sponsored, and highly employable people waiting their turn to legally emigrate to America.

In many parts of America, for example in my home state of Arizona, illegal immigration has nearly overwhelmed our social, medical, educational and law enforcement systems — and our courts. It must stop or we face the serious risk of the widespread failure of these outstanding systems – that we built over the years and that we pay for with our hard-earned money.

Establishing a guest worker program is an important related issue, but it absolutely cannot be undertaken until we secure our borders first.

We Americans have an absolute right to define ourselves politically and geographically. With each stone we lay, and with each dollar we spend building that wall, we need to remind the world and ourselves that the problems which drive people toward the United States do not rest with us, but with the miserable job so many governments have done in providing meaningful economic opportunity for their people.

Meanwhile, we must always remain willing, with a soft hand, to help governments, NGOs and – most important – individuals – achieve meaningful economic progress everywhere. Everywhere.

America’s greatest export is freedom. By working with people the world over to create economic opportunity, we help create our greatest and finest product: Freedom.

2. I would double the size of The United States Coast Guard

They are best suited to protect America’s coasts from those who would attempt to arrive illegally by sea.

3. I would substantially increase surveillance across our northern border; and would seriously consider a much greater use of barriers in high-traffic areas.

The risk of terrorists crossing our northern border remains substantial. It is a risk we must take much more seriously.

4. I would help pay for Items 1-3 by assessing a federal tax on remittances sent from the United States.

I would assess a five percent tax on electronic international remittances sent by individuals from the U.S. However, I would also issue a dollar-for-dollar federal income tax credit for this remittance taxes paid by any person who provides proof of lawful residency at the time they file their federal income tax return.

It is estimated that legal and illegal immigrants in the U.S. remit more than $60 billion per year out of the country. No one knows for sure how much is sent by illegal immigrants.

All major U.S. banks and wire services such as Western Union continue to earn huge profits by facilitating these remittances. The least they can do for us all is to collect the remittance tax – as a merchant would collect a sales tax — while they profit from the expatriation of billions of U.S. dollars overseas.

My guess is that the tax would raise much more than a billion dollars per year – plenty to start building that wall.

More important, as we reduce and then end the flood of illegal immigration, America will begin to save billions annually on social, educational, medical, law enforcement and judicial services.

5. I would offer a voluntary, tamper-proof biometric national ID card nationwide, and require all persons seeking non-emergency government services provide proof of lawful residency.

Americans who have no need of government services will have no need of the card. Persons applying for Social Security or Medicare will have no need of the card. However, any person applying for government-paid social, medical, or educational services for which they did not directly contribute would be required to provide proof of lawful residency. The tamper-proof card would become the preferred (but not the only) method for doing so.

6. Finally, I would end birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. if the mother is here illegally

While the Supreme Court may ultimately need to resolve the issue, I do not believe that the 14th Amendment requires birthright citizenship for children (and thus residency for their family) where the mother gives birth while illegally in the U.S. The 14th Amendment was intended to give citizenship rights to slaves who were brought here involuntarily. There is no reasonable Constitutional imperative that the concept be extended to the children of mothers who come here voluntarily, in violation of our laws.


Next… Restoring the Competitiveness of America’s Capital Markets


3 Comments so far

  1. Aldrich C Famisaran on July 24, 2007 11:26 pm

    Keith I first learned of your voyage and background while going through the Nordhavn website where I occasionally look at my dream boat. As I came accross your journey and started reading your most recent posting from Hong Kong I want you to know that I enjoyed it immensely. I look forward to future postings as well.I just moved to Guam from the US mainland(CA) to do business in anticipation of the military build up for the next 5-10 years. I gather you are now in Palau. Bon Voyage. I envy you to the max..

  2. Kermit Bressner on July 29, 2007 6:14 pm

    You have my vote .
    Please get this message to all our congressmen and the President.
    This is the BEST solution of all time!

    If you would run for President I will work full time.. without pay!!



    Run for President? Sure. But I need to ask you to do two things first: Step one — raise $50 million. Step two — call for further instructions.


  3. Jim Jones on August 16, 2007 6:13 am

    Damned innovative thinking, indeed! I’m impressed. Your recommended actions to reduce illegal immigration and the provocative methods of payment for building a wall are better than any alternatives I have heard of so far.

    I also agree with your statement that we should disallow giving citizenship to children of illegal aliens who go to extreme measures to have an “anchor” child with an American passport. I live in the Middle East and it is extremely common for visitors to the States to ensure that one of their children is born in the U.S. for future needs.

    Jim, you are obviously a brilliant man since you so heartily agree with me! Thanks for joining the adventure.

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