The emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote 2000 years ago, “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”
It could well be said of today’s anger about illegal immigration, felt by people on both sides of our borders.
Americans are angry about changes in our culture, the use of tax dollars to subsidize illegal activity and a general breakdown in the rule of law.
Many people in Latin America are irate about what they see as the hypocrisy of Americans who criticize foreign workers while continuing to hire them.
It seems ironic that people on two sides of an international border can be so angry about a situation that to most seems fairly uncomplicated.
Yet the emotion continues to build, bringing historic allies and trading partners ever closer to separation by a modern-day Berlin Wall.
The Chamber of the Americas in Denver and the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation are working to build a dialogue between the two, as it represents an important part of solving the problem for people on both sides of the border.
Mexican officials tell us they badly want to work with U.S. officials on border control and law enforcement, while also providing a legal means for legitimate workers to be matched with jobs.
Yet the conventional wisdom in the United States is that Mexico is part of the problem, that it actually wants its people to break down the border and come en masse to the United States.
That’s because others have defined the issue while Mexican government and business leaders have not been adequately involved in the debate. That must change.
Our proposal is fairly simple. Separate immigrants from temporary guest workers , they are not the same and should not be treated the same.
Non-immigrants who want work in the United States should undergo background checks and be issued “smart cards” that make tracking easy for both employers and law enforcement.
Amnesty cannot be part of the deal. Illegals already in the United States should leave and obtain legal status outside the United States.
No government bureaucracy can handle millions of cases in a reasonable time , most illegals know the system doesn’t work, because it hasn’t worked for them.
But if they knew they could become legal quickly and efficiently, employers and employees alike would not only jump at the chance, they would gladly pay for it, too.
Taxpayers wouldn’t have to.
Controlling the border would be easier and cheaper because 90 percent of the problem would be eliminated.
The economy would have the workers it needs without subjecting our country to the threats posed by a porous border.
Workers could come out of the shadows, pay taxes and be treated like all other workers.
We could have both border control and a strong economy.
The devil, as always, is in the details. Like any other good idea, though, people can only figure it out through a calm and rational discussion.
That requires both sides to talk to each other, and keep talking. Otherwise, the consequences of our anger and bitterness may be even worse than the cause.
Helen Krieble is president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation and Gil Cisneros is president of Chamber of the Americas.