Assortments of Thought

Solving Illegal Immigration

Posted on: July 3rd, 2010

As Mexican and other Hispanic people continue to enter the country illegally, a solution to illegal immigration is becoming more important than ever. The border states in particular are becoming increasingly agitated, which is to say, the people who live near the border are becoming increasingly agitated, and often for legitimate reasons. Let there be no confusion about it: illegal immigrants are coming here illegally, and in doing so, they’re disrespecting our sovereignty. More pragmatically, they’re obtaining our benefits illegally, and some are even bringing drug activity with them, or else stealing people’s identities. This state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. However, despite calls for mass deportation, deporting every illegal immigrant is not the answer, and nor is taking any measure meant to force them out voluntarily. The fact is, illegal immigrants wouldn’t be here had we been regulating our border properly for the past several decades, and further, many are just trying to better themselves, and are contributing to our economy in the process. Thus the solution is not to deport, but rather to secure the border once and for all; deport just the criminals; and provide everyone else with permanent resident status, subject only to the usual conditions that such status brings.

In getting to that point though, valid reasons to be upset over illegal immigration shouldn’t be ignored. I sometimes get the impression, for instance, that some people like to imagine we don’t have a border with Mexico and other Hispanic countries, or that our border is somehow akin to one between states, but such is simply not the case. We’re a sovereign nation, an independent, bordered country not part of any other, and we have the right for the citizens of all other countries to respect as much. Indeed, we’re facing enough trouble as it is just taking care of our own people’s problems, the task we’re inherently charged with, without being responsible for countless more coming here illegally. It’s certain as well that some illegal immigrants come here strictly for whatever they can get and nothing more, holding no respect for our nation at the very least, and perhaps even openly mocking it. Finally, some illegal immigrants do bring drug and related criminal activity with them, or else steal identities once they’re here, and our own people in the border states are left to contend with such. This alone is not at all fair to them, and nor is it fair to all of us that people who aren’t citizens or otherwise legal are obtaining many of the same benefits of living here as if they were. Thus illegal immigration is causing legitimate problems that result in legitimate anger, especially among the citizens of the border states, and we shouldn’t ignore as much by pretending there isn’t anything wrong with it.

Nevertheless, as we consider solutions to our illegal immigration problem, there’re several mitigating factors we shouldn’t ignore either. While it’s certainly true that illegal immigrants are in violation of our sovereign law, a lot of people seem to think the problem is as simple and one-sided as that, but it’s not. The fact is, we’ve been permitting people to illegally cross our border for decades, decades when we should’ve been protecting it, and we’ve been allowing people to illegally live and work here for decades as well. Although this doesn’t absolve illegal immigrants of their guilt in illegally crossing, it’s nonetheless a role of ours that we can’t just forget, especially considering that so many illegal immigrants have come here just trying to better themselves and their families. In other words, it’s not our task to provide jobs to everybody in the world that wants them, but after permitting so many people to come here and get them, and, indeed, build happy and prosperous lives for themselves and their families here, perhaps we’ve inadvertently taken on a responsibility that we can’t forget. Finally, there’s no question that many illegal immigrants work hard here and contribute to our economy in the process, so even as they’re better supporting themselves and their families, our nation as a whole is gaining some benefit as well. Indeed, if only they’d been legally admitted, there wouldn’t be any problem. Thus in spite of the illegality in what all illegal immigrants are doing, we’ve permitted it, permitted people to build happy lives here and find work that’s beneficial to all of us, and we can’t just forget this.

Clearly then, a compromise is in order, one that puts an end to illegal immigration, yet allows otherwise law-abiding people to remain and become legal. Although many people might not like this approach, it really does satisfy demands on both sides of the issue, and is in fact one of the fairest options available. Here’s how I envision it happening. First, we’d secure the border once and for all. Although this would cost a lot of money, as it would mean erecting a barrier or otherwise stationing troops all along it, it’s obviously the first and most essential step. Second, we’d grant permanent resident status to all illegally remaining immigrants who were free of felonious crime, otherwise subject only to the usual conditions. Of course, anyone could still apply for citizenship if they wished, but even if they weren’t eligible or didn’t quality for that, they’d still be guaranteed a green card. And finally, we’d continue apprehending, trying, and convicting everyone involved in felonious crime, be that drug trafficking, identity theft, or anything similar. Indeed, since there’d be no reason for innocent people not to obtain their green cards, the criminals would start standing out, making it easier to apprehend them. In this way then, illegal immigration would be stopped, yet most illegally remaining immigrants and their families would be permitted to legally stay. Thus the illegal immigration problem would be solved, as fairly as possible to all.

There are, of course, a couple points here that warrant special emphasis. First is how important it really is to secure the border. In lieu of doing so, the only recourse from mass deportation would be to grant a one-time pardon to illegal immigrants already here, and then significantly tighten laws blocking the hiring of future illegal immigrants. Although this would seem to remove incentives for people to illegally come, there’d always be ways to find work, and drug trafficking over the border would certainly continue as well. Hence securing the border is the only way to prevent the same situations from arising again. And second, some people may feel that requiring nothing of previously illegal immigrants except innocence from felonious crime would be requiring too little of them. However, either people are criminals or they’re not, so if most illegal immigrants were essentially pardoned, I don’t see how we could turn around and require them, for instance, to pay back taxes or learn fluent English, or attain the standards for citizenship. Doing so would miss the point of letting most immigrants continue living as they are. Indeed, the whole idea behind the plan I’ve explained is to stop illegal border crossings and liberate the border states from the related crimes, yet allow good-intentioned immigrants to continue living and contributing in the lives they’ve built for themselves here. These objectives are precisely why the plan is so fair, to citizens and immigrants alike.

Of course, regardless of how fair it is, there’s no guarantee that such a plan would be liked or even accepted. Historically speaking, mass immigration has often caused friction, with some citizens outright rejecting it. Even regarding Hispanic immigration today, setting all questions of legality aside, there’s no doubt that some people just don’t want so many Hispanic immigrants coming or staying. Some of these people are undoubtedly racist, of course, but many are simply uneasy about the cultural changes that such mass immigration may bring. And there’s little doubt that some cultural change is inevitable, but maybe the best thing to remember in the face of that is, we’d still be America. Indeed, what’s the major influence on our ever-evolving culture been, if not the cultures of so many others? The mass immigrants of previous centuries brought new ways and new ideas, and people were fearful and rejecting of them for that, but in the end, it always came together somehow and we not only survived, but actually emerged uniquely stronger. Immigrants of the past have long since become a vital part of our history, while their descendants remain among our good citizens even today. Thus the mass Hispanic immigration of today won’t hurt us, although to secure the best possible outcome and future for us all, we have to act quickly regarding illegal immigration, following a fair and sensitive plan like I’ve explained above. The time has long come to say no both to allowing illegal immigration and to threatening mass deportation, for only through compromise will we act in the better interests of us all, citizens and immigrants alike.

©2010, D.S. Applemin. All rights reserved.

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