Immigration and applause for the president
I’ve strongly disagreed with the president on many policies, but I’ve never disagreed with him because he was a Republican or because of something his father did or because I didn’t like the kind of car he drove. And I’ve grown each day since May 15 to appreciate his stance on immigration reform more and more.
Relentless criticism has been shouted from both parties following President Bush’s nationally televised remarks on his proposal. Of course it has. It’s easy to sit back and point out why an idea is less than perfect. Coming up with a better idea isn’t so easy. And besides, only leaders must take a stand and search for something better ‘ not necessarily perfect.
And so the president spoke candidly about illegal immigration. He pulled many of his punches. It’s true. He let us know what he would like to do. It’s a compromise, which seems to mean all sides have been left with something about which to complain if that is what they are inclined to do.
He placed closing our nation’s borders at the top of the list, where it should be. This is no small feat; in fact, it may never be possible to truly secure the borders, but it’s certain that we can do a much better job than we have done in the past.
As a nation, we have an obligation to preserve the integrity of our borders, no matter what unrealistic arguments are given by those who try to pick apart any means the United States would use to do so. Those individuals want the borders open, plain and simple.
Among the defining characteristics of this nation are the order and security which come from law and enforcement. Without proper documentation of those within our borders, we cannot effectively enforce the law or our tax system. This puts both immigrant and native at risk.
We have an obligation, a responsibility and a right to preserve America’s status as a place people desire to go when freedom, prosperity and security are not attainable at home. Unfortunately, this lifeboat would be swamped if we pulled everyone aboard in a chaotic rush.
But what about this word ‘amnesty’?
The president says that word doesn’t describe his plan.
‘I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law ‘ to pay their taxes, to learn English and to work in a job for a number of years,’ he said. And that’s when I suspect most Americans paused and thought to themselves, ‘But I’ve been doing that already.’
We cannot possibly round up millions of people and send them across the border. On this point, too, I agree with the president. The cost and sheer manpower involved would be phenomenal. And while Mexico is the largest source of illegal immigration to the United States, several million illegals are of various other national origins and could not simply be deported to Mexico.
Contained within this idea of mass deportation is a human rights fiasco. What would become of the children who have been born here? What about those with deep roots in the United States? What about those who have resided here for so long that in any meaningful sense this is their country?
We won’t ever have to answer these questions because the federal government would never undertake nor oblige the states to undertake the logistical nightmare of comprehensive deportation of illegal immigrants.
So then we come back to amnesty. What a misnomer if there ever was one. Amnesty suggests that we are forgiving those who came to our country illegally. But forgiving them for what? Oh yes, that’s right, forgiving them for breaking the law by coming here in the first place.
Under current immigration quotas, the overwhelming majority of the more than 10 million immigrants here illegally would’ve died of old age before entering the United States. Our law would never have applied to most of them had they not broken it, and it’s difficult to imagine God has a punishment waiting for those who did.
Arguing that illegal immigrants showed a disrespect for our laws by coming here in the first place is a shallow attempt at plodding to a moral high ground. In fact, an aspect of American life valued most by those who immigrate here from the Third World is greater security with less corruption. Those laws and their enforcement are viewed by immigrants as a selling point.
Being born into the population of the United States is neither a right nor a privilege. It just happens. However, becoming a citizen through the established process is a statistically unlikely event for those coming from Central and South America.
When considering how to resolve our illegal immigration problem, all U.S. citizens must recognize that we have a responsibility to maintain our borders and our laws. We must also recognize that we do not share this responsibility with those fleeing poverty, crime and instability. The less fortunate will always try to come, and though we will not always be able to welcome them, we need not brand them criminals.