Editorial: Another take on U.S. immigration policy
March 28, 2006
While the current U.S. immigration “policy” does not have a reliable mechanism to control our southern border – illegal immigrants continue to pour in, adding to a growing Mexican-American subculture – the proposition that we have the capacity to enforce criminal penalties against illegals doesn’t recognize the reality that the scale has moved largely beyond control.
Millions of illegal Mexican immigrants have made the U.S. their home. And they have children who are further entrenched here. And, as a workforce, they have carved out a piece of the American economy that would have trouble adjusting if suddenly a prohibition on employment of illegal aliens – with strict enforcement – were put in place. We assume this is the intent of recent legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
This influx of illegals has happened largely unchecked by the federal government during times of prosperity when employers were clamoring for Mexican labor. The United States invited this problem, maybe through a greedy desire for cheap labor, maybe through ignorance about the social implications, but there is another way (other than an immigration law enforcement approach) to control the situation.
The first priority of immigration enforcement should be to control the southern border, with the same vigilance with which we control our airports. If this means doubling or tripling the number of border patrol, then it is a worthwhile investment.
Secondly, we have to create a model for a guest worker program that recognizes many of those who are here are part of the community, and those who wish to come here -provided they are not a security threat – can if their intentions are to contribute to everyone’s prosperity. By controlling the influx of cheap labor, we may finally see a day in our economy when work is rewarded with just compensation.
Thirdly, there is room in the United States for immigrants to become citizens – it is the history and strength of our great country. If done correctly, and in a limited and measured way, we can ensure our newest citizens experience the prosperity they desire, while a reasonable cultural assimilation takes place.
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There is no doubt that immigration reform needs to happen, but we need to proceed with caution. It may be a crime to enter our country illegally, but the motive for most illegal immigrants is to help themselves and their families – our policies should reflect that reality.
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