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Immigration policy, border practices, and lessons from the warehouse floor

By Steve Geary | 02/24/2017 | 1:43 PM

In February, in a headline, the New York Times said, “Crackdown on immigration faces logistical hurdles.”  Logistics appearing in a headline in the New York Times?  We’re coming up in the world.

The lead in the article read, “President Trump’s efforts to secure the nation’s borders and get tough on illegal immigrants, announced just days after he took office, now face serious logistical problems along with the legal challenges that threaten his ability to make good on a central campaign promise.”

So how should the nation approach the issue?  There is a logistical problem, just like the article asserts, but it isn’t at all clear that the article is tackling the right one.  It would make sense to think about it just as we would look warehouse performance - a cornerstone in any logistics network. 

Inventory control 101 says that the first thing to do is compare policy and practice.  If the published rules don’t match the practice, then something needs to change.  Either change the rules or discipline the process.

It’s pretty simple:  if policy and practice don’t match, the system doesn’t perform as well as it could. 

That’s the situation we find with immigration in the United States.  We have developed a set of shadow immigration practices at odds with the law.  We either need to bring the immigration processes into compliance with the law, or change the laws.  Unless we do that, we are going to face continuing dysfunction and confusion.

Back in the days when I ran distribution networks, no matter how much I loved my customers and my employees, we had locks on the facility doors and gates protecting the stockrooms.  The analogy is clear. 

Secure the domain to control access and maintain integrity, or not.  It is a clear choice for most businesses.  This may be simple minded, but there just don’t seem to be any reason why the nation’s borders should be any different.

Now, before people flood my email with screaming diatribes, I’m not saying I agree with the policy the President is executing or the laws he is following.  It just seems to me that he is trying to follow the rules that are on the books.  The United States is supposed to be a nation of laws and the President is applying the law, not ignoring it.

So, here’s an approach, the same as it should be for anyone who doesn’t like inventory policies in a warehouse.  Don’t complain about the policy to the people who are responsible for executing the policy on the warehouse floor.  If you don’t like a policy, or in this situation if you don’t like the current law, then take it up with the people who write the laws.

Call or write your representatives in Congress, the place where legislation gets written.  I’m sure they would love to hear from you, but do all of us a favor, don’t just criticize, offer a recommendation for a solution to your concerns.

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About Steve Geary

Steve Geary

Steve Geary is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tennessee's College of Business Administration, and is on the faculty at The Gordon Institute at Tufts University, where he teaches supply chain management. He is the President of the Supply Chain Visions family of companies, and Chief Operating Officer at ROSE Solutions, consultancies that work across the government sector. Steve is a contributing editor at DC Velocity, and editor-at-large for CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and Who's Who in Executives and Professionals. In November of 2007, Steve was recognized for "Selfless Service to Our Nation and the People of Iraq" by the Deputy Secretary of Defense.



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