As we near the Fourth of July, I think back to my time as a water park lifeguard. Part of my responsibility – while working at certain rides – was asking guests whether they could swim. Every day, an unbelievable number of people would lie.
It was my job to save guests in distress, and I never had a problem rescuing someone who was having a tough time. However, you can imagine how frustrating it is when someone knowingly endangers themselves and others because they want to enjoy the experience of the ride, and they know you have to help them. Maybe, you don’t have to imagine.
(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Right now, every tax-paying citizen is keeping tens of thousands afloat in a different way.
We have a flood of illegal immigrants who are putting themselves and their children in horrible situations to be able to enjoy the experience that is America, knowing that we will hurry to the rescue with food, shelter, and medical treatment – all despite the fact that they lied to us and broke the law.
With this in mind, there are a few excellent lessons that the United States can learn from how water parks operate, because the two aren’t as different as they seem.
In a water park, guests pay admission. Inside the park, that money goes to pay for the upkeep of rides, and other critical services: Security guards to keep visitors safe; lifeguards to rescue people from danger and EMTs to provide medical attention. A lot of fun can be had, and guests generally don’t mind paying admission because they like to know that they are safe.
In the United States, citizens pay taxes. Inside the country, that money goes to pay for infrastructure and other critical services: Police to keep residents safe; firefighters to rescue people from danger; and emergency rooms to provide medical attention. A lot of opportunities can be found, and citizens generally don’t mind paying reasonable taxes because they like to know that they are safe.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers wait for new arrivals in the intake area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Arizona. Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. Pool/Getty Images
Not so different after all. They just have different goals, staged on a different scale. Here is where the water park begins to vary: A park that allowed guests in for free would quickly go broke, and close down.
That’s why a big fence surrounds a water park, with only a handful of secure entrances and exits. These “borders” allow security to make sure everyone in the park is a paying customer and that no one smuggles in any alcohol, drugs, or weapons – all items prohibited by park security where I worked.
This level of small-scale “border control” also allows management to regulate how many guests are in the park. To use my former employer as an example, the aquatics department came up with a safe “guard-to-guest ratio” because if there are too many patrons, the emergency services won’t be able to help everyone.
In comparison to the water park’s tall barbed-wire-topped fence, the United States has a line on a map, and essentially powerless border control officers. The regulation of “visitors'” control of illicit items that are brought onto our property, and removal of rule-breakers from our territory all seem woefully beyond the reach of the United States government.
Detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility, on June 18, 2014, in Brownsville,Texas. Brownsville and Nogales, Ariz. have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. Pool/Getty Images
And now the Obama Administration is looking to spend billions of taxpayer dollars – that should be going to benefit citizens – on saving these illegal immigrants.
To put this in perspective, what do you think would happen if a water park manager said: “Open all of the gates and let everyone in. They can pay for their tickets later?”
How about if after that, the same manager walked up to a paying customer and said: “There are a lot of guests who haven’t paid admission today, we need to charge you more to cover the cost of their tickets?”
Or, if the manager said to the park staff: “There are a lot of teenagers that snuck into the park to have a good time today, but their families are missing out. We should find the parents and send out buses and bring them to the park too, free of charge?”
The staff would be completely overworked. There would be more guests than the lifeguards could watch. Some would drown. Riots would break out on lines for the overcrowded rides. People would be trampled. Visitors would leave either out of fear for their safety or outrage that they were paying extra money so that others could have free admission. The manager would be fired for putting the guests in danger, not to mention bankrupting the company.
This scenario has become a reality at the border. Parents are risking the lives of their children because they want to reap the benefits of American citizenship without paying admission, so to speak.
A group of 27 illegal immigrants turned themselves into Border Patrol agents June 17, in Mission, Texas, part of the Rio Grande Valley. Communities in Texas are overwhelmed by the increased number of illegal immigrants. More than 1000 people are apprehend everyday in this sector. Photo Sara A. Carter/TheBlaze.
They know that even if they lie to us with rehearsed answers and break our rules, we will help them anyway, just like the guests in the water park. The only difference is, back in the park, if you lie to the guards, break the rules, or try to sneak in, you will be kicked out.
This summer, if you’re a thrill seeker, or just trying to escape the heat, head to the nearest water park and take a look around. You might learn something about keeping your head above water, because managing our borders will determine whether we as a nation sink or swim.
Cole Ellenbogen is a student at Syracuse University. You can follow him on twitter @Cole_Ellenbogen, or contact him at Ellenbogencole@gmail.com
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