Friday was an interesting day for me. I have many Latino friends that are immigrants and a number of them called me all day expressing fear over being kicked out. Some of this is irrational probably stirred up from political opportunists, rumors, and perhaps bad experiences with the governments in their native countries. I say this because some of my friends I know are here legally with valid work visas, yet they too seem to have caught the “fear bug” going around. These folks, mainly from El Salvador, were granted permission to work in the U.S. and have been here for many years. They have married, had kids, bought homes, and in all respects that I’ve seen are the kind of people we want to have in our country. Instead of leaving them in agonizing limbo for years, extending the expiration of their work visas when business whines, a permanent resolution of their status needs to be made now. I personally believe they should be allowed to stay with permanent residency and later citizenship (assuming they meet all qualifications for such). Others of my friends are illegal immigrants (I reject the PC term “undocumented worker” as pure BS). They came for the obvious reason that conditions in their country sucked and they wanted a better life for themselves and their family, something I myself would have done in their situation.
I’ve previously mentioned on my own blog that I’m torn on the issue of illegal immigration. On the one hand I’m adamantly against open borders, am rankled by the “entitlement” attitude among some illegal immigrants along with some of the other nonsense, and find some of the criticism about the drain of illegal immigration on health care, schools, law enforcement, etc., to be valid. Yet on the other hand I cannot ignore the fact that both political parties have had a “wink and nod” approach to this for years for there own reasons and despite problems from some, most of these people are providing needed labor here and aid to the poor in their own countries. A guest-worker program legalizing their status with all the requirements citizens and permanent residents must meet as far as taxes go should alleviate some of the problems. Anyone who thinks we can maintain a porous border without this being detrimental to our nation or that we are seriously going to round up millions of people and deport them are just not dealing with reality. The border should have been attended to immediately after 9/11 but the politicos on both sides of the aisle ignored it for their own partisan reasons. As for the latter, most people know very well that besides lacking the manpower to carry out such a mass deportation, the first video on TV of some crying mother and her screaming baby being handcuffed by immigration officers to be deported will cause the whole scheme to fold like a house of cards. So let’s cut through the BS and resolve this in a way that may not please everyone but I believe will be the most fair and the best for our country.
The most pragmatic solution I can see for this is a melding of both the hardline and soft approach to illegal immigration. Specifically:
• Build the wall and put in place whatever other security measures are needed. Double the number of Border Patrol agents, particularly for catching suspected terrorists, narcotics traffickers, and gang-members.
• Deny driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition to those here illegally. This would not include those enrolled in a guest-worker program.
• Require a legal form of identification for voting; reject the bogus Mexican matricula consular IDs.
• Immediately deport those here illegally or who have work visas for crimes from petty theft to murder – after they serve their punishment.
• Establish a guest-worker program which allows those here already to remain as long as they pass a back round check (paid for by them), pay a fine for coming here illegally, and demonstrate that they have employment or are able to obtain a job in a reasonable amount of time and not be on welfare. A path to citizenship will have to be part of this, probably after some waiting period, with the details on this worked out. In my view though it should include a demonstration the candidate can support themselves and has a basic understanding of American history and an ability to speak English (I’m not asking for “Shakespeare”).
• Toughen penalties who continue to knowingly hire illegals after such a guest-worker program is established. By “toughen” I’m speaking of severe as in they lose their business and spend time in jail.
I am probably forgetting something in this list and undoubtedly it will find detractors from all sides, but it is the best solution I can think of to address the legitimate concerns I’ve seen on the many sides of this issue.
When I was growing up my father taught me the most important things in life are God, family, friends, and country. If a conflict between any of these arises than one must do what their conscience tells them is right. I do not agree with all that I’ve heard about the organizations or goals for this planned march, indeed I refuse to participate and condemn the boycott (an arrogant and stupid idea liable to spark a backlash), but I cannot abandon those whom I call friends even though I find some of their fears to be unjustified and irrational. Therefore I will join my friends on Monday – AFTER work – and march, for them. I will, however, be carrying an American flag.
UPDATE: This column from the Concord Monitor has some items from Mexican law that the president and leaders in Congress should tout as part of an immigration reform program which in my view should also include a guest-worker program leading to citizenship for many here already.