I could talk about this all day, but let me condense my thoughts down to a few major points:
- Too many people are overlooking the "illegal" part of illegal immigration. This is the main problem I have with this situation, and one that gets glossed over by those whose hearts bleed far more freely than mine: These people are breaking the law. Being against illegal immigration is not the same thing as being against immigration, period; sure, some may be against both, but that's not the point that I personally am trying to make here. After all, as many people have pointed out, we are a nation of immigrants (and the fact that I'm at least part Irish means that, yes, some of my ancestors likely came here to avoid the potato famine). The only difference is that the immigrants who built this nation came here through legal channels (many of them starting their process towards citizenship when they entered the country at Ellis Island), while the people who are the subject of debate and pending legislation in Congress today came here by sneaking across the border illegally. "But they're just trying to feed their families," some will say. Fine, but that doesn't excuse someone from breaking the law to do so. Would you give them a free pass for shoplifting food from Albertsons if they did so to feed their families? Probably not. Well....crime is crime. I fail to see the difference between the two situations.
I guess you could say that I see a slippery slope here (and sure, there are some who say that even the term "slippery slope" has jumped the shark already, but I think there really is one in this case). The fact is, by failing to go through the proper channels, these people are breaking the law simply by being on American soil. What's to keep them from thinking, "Well, I got away with breaking that law; I wonder how many others I can break as well?" Sure, the illegal status will make some people extra-cautious, but do you want to bet our country's security that everyone will act that way?
And I have to comment about the moron who wrote into the paper yesterday and said, "Illegal immigrants aren't criminals." Hel-looooo! What the #$^&^@* do you think "illegal" means, anyway?
- Let's stop saying "You must be racist or something! You just hate these people!" whenever someone discusses this problem. Puh-leeeze. Just because I'm not in favor of illegal immigration does not mean that I'm prejudiced against people of Hispanic origin; actually, I show disdain for all criminals, regardless of ethnicity. As I said before, I have no problem with people who come here through the proper channels, no matter what country they come from. But when people try to take what isn't theirs yet by cheating the system...sorry, but those aren't the kind of people we need in our country.
And the actions of the Mexican government are shameful--paying lip service to the problem when talking with U.S. officials while they're printing maps of the easiest places to get into the U.S. and giving them to Mexican citizens. I'm not making this up:
The government of the Mexican state of Yucatán has published its own 87-page handbook, complete with DVD, for potential migrants to the United States. Publication of the guide added fuel to an international debate over whether such guides encourage illegal border-crossers. Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth sent a letter to colleagues condemning the guide for Mexican migrants, and urging members of Congress to complain to the U.S. State Department.If Mexico would get its own stuff together economically, its citizens wouldn't need to sneak in here all the time.
[...]The 87-page book tells potential migrants how to apply for U.S. visas and job-training certificates that can help them get legal employment in the United States, but also gives detailed safety advice for migrants who cross the border illegally. The guide includes where to find water in the desert and how to avoid the most dangerous areas. It includes a section specifically about Arizona.
Yucatán officials say they are trying to save the lives of undocumented immigrants and ease transition for those who enter the United States legally.
Hayworth's letter cites passages of the book describing routes through the Arizona desert and informing readers that they can enroll in U.S. public schools. (source)
- Too many people have given up already, saying "We can't possibly get rid of the 12 million people who are already here illegally." This question was posed on the Ernie Brown show today: What do we do about the people who are already here? How could we possibly deport all of them? I didn't get a chance to call in, but my answer would have been: One at a time. A traffic stop here, a domestic disturbance call there...nobody's saying we have to solve this problem all in one day, but let's at least start doing something.
As you can tell, I'm not in favor of any sort of amnesty policy. I think it sends the wrong message if we start rewarding people who break the law. A guest-worker program might be OK, assuming the people involved are either 1) traceable, so they won't overstay their allotted time, or 2) processed into the system and put on a track towards full citizenship...they way they should have done things to begin with.
- I'm tired of hearing how we need illegals to "do the jobs that Americans won't do." This one really wears on me. "Who will cook your food or mow your lawns?" has been a constant whine from the misguided illegal-sympathizers for a long time. Well, the answer is obvious to me, since I come in contact with such a group every day: High school and college students.
It's students who are really suffering from this problem. The high school and college job markets have been horrible the past couple of years, and part of the reason is because so many of the jobs that students tend to get have already been taken over by illegals; my favorite example is from a few years ago, when one of my high-schoolers wanted to apply for a job at McDonald's, only to find out that all the applications were in Spanish. (And lest you wonder how I'm so sure that everyone in your average burger joint is illegal and not just an immigrant, period...I asked a friend of mine who manages a fast-food place--neither the friend nor the restaurant will be named here--how many workers their store would have left if immigration came a-knockin'. His reply was three--two guys from India and himself.)
My first job was at McDonald's, and it was a really crappy job. But it was also a real eye-opener for me, because I got to interact with the managers: People who were way too grey and way too fat for their age; who had a few heart attacks before age 40 and generally seemed to hate their everyday existence; people for whom fast food was their life. I saw these people and thought to myself, "I will not grow up to be like these people," and indeed, I kept my nose to the grindstone and made something of myself. I feel bad that many of today's youth have lost out on this opportunity, as well as the opportunity to simply have a job during high school or college. (I also thought it was ironic that a lot of Dallas-area high-schoolers were cutting class to protest the pending immigration bill today, when the result could easily mean more work for themselves and their classmates.)
And as for the lawnmowing thing? Same deal; plenty of high-schoolers and collegians will happily do that job (I've bartered with several over the years in the form of lawn-for-lessons or lawn-for-Chipotle burritos). Ditto for construction; a summer job in that field develops a great work ethic and can earn a student righteous bucks. Don't tell me we don't have the resources to do those jobs with American citizens.
- A solution: I think the best possible answer to this problem was brought up on Ernie's show today: If we want to stop illegal immigration, go after the employers who hire them. Make the penalty so severe; make a big example out of a few companies that suddenly everyone shies away from hiring illegals. Let's at least give it a try, OK?