Sunday, January 29, 2017

Explaining the Wall to a German

Over the past year, with all the explosive political chatter....the American wall business will pop up occasionally with Germans, and they get kinda hyped-up and go heavily into criticism.  Those who do this....rarely ask questions and research into the topic.  They are simply anti-wall.  This comes from the 1961 to 1989 period of Germany....where "The Wall" existed and divided Germany even more than the invisible line that existed prior.

I'm not much at pro-wall or anti-wall.....although I do understand the discussion topic.

You can explain this to a German by asking them to imagine Germany bordering Romania....rather than Austria or Switzerland or Luxembourg.   Then imagine that 175,000 individuals hiked over the border each year, without any ID check.  These 175,000 individuals would then go and take non-taxed work (even though it's illegal) and generally be paid in cash.  Then imagine that 2,000 of the group ended up routinely on some criminal situation (assault, robbery, rape, murder), spent time in jail and was sent back to the home country.....only to return a week later and restart their criminal lives.  Imagine Germans who live along this border and facing daily threats by individuals crossing if anything should threaten their walk across the border.  Then imagine Germans so fed up with this behavior and the lack of solutions.....that they'd be willing to dump normal regular political candidates, and go for some extreme variation candidate, in hopes of fixing the problem.

The intellectual argument that would typically come from a German will center on The Wall that existed around Berlin, and some weepy-eyed talk over how frustrating it was for that near thirty-year period. You can console the person in that The Wall was never a two-way vision, with doorways to come and go.

The US wall?  There are literally dozens of doorways that exist and you can walk to those doorways....present your visa, an ID, and a form I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record).  The I-94?  It's for a scenario where you need to travel more than 55 miles (don't ask) beyond the border and you are simply detailing your travel.  I should note that the I-94 is good for six months and multiple trips, and cost around $6 per form.

The visa business?  You can apply for a visa on dozens of ground, but you do it from your home....not after you cross the border.  There is a visa category for sports figures, religious figures, entertainers, students, tourists, news journalists, or doctors.  Want to enter to perform paid work, then there are visas for this as well.

You can go and find individuals from Germany, Japan, England, Russia, or Brazil who prepare for their new job situation in the US, and apply for the visa.  Dirk Nowitzki holds a US visa.  The various journalists employed by ARD and based out of the US?  They all have visas.  The Mercedes research team?  They all have visas for their work in the US.  German students who attend a US university for PhD efforts?  They all have visas.

The crowd crossing the US border NOT via one of the doorways?  No visa.  The crowd going via any of the dozens of entry points of the US border with Mexico?  They all have a visa.

What hinders the 175,000-odd people each year from NOT applying for a visa?  That might be a million-Euro type question.  Language? No, the form can come in most all languages.  The details?  It's a form that you can generally fill out with a 6th grade education.  The time to fill it out?  It generally takes roughly 15 minutes to fill it out.  The cost? If this is a non-immigration visa (students, tourists, medical-treatment), then it's $160 to file it. I admit....it is hefty.  Work-visas?  Different category and typically cost $190.

So, at this point.....you kinda utter the phrase: "It's not rocket science".  A margially educated person can write up the form for a visa in 15 minutes, and apply.  The waiting time business?  Well, yeah....that does come up as an issue.  You might go and visit the consulate or embassy.....realizing after you hand the paperwork over, there is an interview required.  This could be a 10-minute interview....it could be a one-hour interview. You might be waiting a month or two, to get the interview.  In this case, that's the one area that the US could improve upon, and just hire more people to conduct the interview, or do these by Skype and quicken the pace.

So why skip the visa step?  Why not play the game like Germans do, or people from Japan?  It's paperwork and a bureaucratic mess.  Most people are figuring to have cash-only type jobs and don't want to pay for federal taxes, state taxes, social security, or medical insurance.  Most will say that it's better in this open-atmosphere, than sitting in their homeland.  Note, for the most part, we aren't talking about Mexicans anymore.

There are probably people from at least forty countries (well beyond Mexico) that now use the southern border.  In 2015, it was noted that an Iraqi guy attempted to cross the border from Mexico into the US.

I will admit one of the weak points to the idea of building a wall and making Mexico pay for the wall....is that a fair sum of the crossing folks AREN'T Mexican.  So the tax idea really isn't that fair, and a burden for Mexico.  But Mexico itself is just one big open crossing point, and they've allowed themselves to be a burden....without fixing their own problem.

What's required to enter Mexico, as an American?  You need some form of ID.  If you intend to go further than 25 miles into Mexico....you need a passport.  If you intend to drive across (legally), then there's a $27 fee.  The visitors fee?  That's $22, per person.  You want to stay a long while, or work?  Then you need to fill out a Mexico form MF-3, which details the work location and some personal info.  Total cost?  Most people quote $500 from beginning to end (to include the photos). How many Americans illegally work in Mexico without the MF-3?  No one discusses that much.  In the year 2011, there were approximately 1,000 Americans found in Mexico....working....without the MF-3.  You generally get a fine (roughly $400), and get dumped at the border.

Then you reach this point in the conversation....is there a problem in Germany where illegals have come and are working on the "black"?  The German will flip a bit and then realize this is not going the way it should....the German should typically win intellectual arguments with the American.  So you go on and ask....aren't there regular daily raids on German bordellos to ensure visas and passports exist on the non-German/non-EU hookers?  Aren't Zollamt personnel visiting construction sites daily in Germany to ID non-German/non-EU workers and ensure they have visas?

Yeah, it's just not a pretty topic of discussion.

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