(KWTX) Are illegal immigrants becoming modern slaves?
That's what San Antonio businessman Tony Rivera believes.
Rivera is the first in his family to be born in the United States.
Both his parents immigrated from Mexico and worked hard to become U-S citizens.
His father worked construction.
"He was making $1.35 cents a foot, they get $1.75 cents today. That was 1976 this is 20-17. How in the hell is a Hispanic gonna send his kids to college or get a new truck making the same amount as my dad made in 78. 40 years ago...and why? There's an endless flow of people coming across the border who are willing to do it for less and less...it's simple," Rivera said.
Rivera believes a wall or fence along heavily traveled areas on the border would stem the flow of immigration which would mean the supply of laborers would go down, driving up wages for those who are willing to go thru the legal channels of citizenship.
"The Hispanic wages would go up, you would see people dressing better. They can do things that most people do, like sending their kids to college," Rivera said.
George Mapus has lived and worked in Laredo all his life.
He says if you don't speak Spanish in Laredo you don't do business.
He believes the border wall is not the answer. He would prefer to see the United States revamp it's guest worker program to be more immigrant friendly.
One that would get immigrants out of the shadows and on the tax roll.
"That's the job of the government to collect taxes to pay for all this stuff. Make it another revenue source for the United States. You come here and work you're gonna pay taxes like everyone else," Mapus said.
Even without a wall, President Trump's tough stance on border security has slowed the flow of immigration to a trickle.
According to U-S Border Patrol statistics, to the lowest level in 17 years.
U-S farms are feeling the effects.
Fewer migrant workers mean the price of produce could go up.
Rivera says that's a small price to pay for more national security and better pay and work conditions for those who are going thru the legal channels to become U-S citizens.
"Put up the wall, let them come in, make the process simple. If you screw up you're out. What we do to these people is horrible," Rivera said.