Hello A Future Free. . . do you remember me?
I’m that girl that used to log on all the time and fill your pages with a plethora of words that a few occasional individuals would drop by and read, and it seems I’ve been neglecting you lately.
As the presidential candidates wrap up their “closing arguments” prior to the early primaries and caucuses, there are a few things that have stood out to me in addition to the obvious (i.e. how to fix the economy) that have really caused me to think. One of those things is immigration. Specifically, front-runner Newt Gingrich’s stance on immigration. In recent debates, he’s come out and spoke on the subject, saying specifically that he was “for a local citizen panel to consider certification of those who have been here 25 years and have family and community and have been law abiding and tax paying. . .” (I do find it interesting that he mentioned tax-paying. . .call me crazy, but if you’re here illegally, the likelihood that you’re paying taxes is pretty scant. After all, you’re “hiding” from the government, aren’t you? Moving on.) The plan does not:
-Allow them to vote.
Naturally and rightfully so, the wires were ablaze with talk of how this was in fact “amnesty;” of how Gingrich was soft on immigration, etc. etc. His counterparts in the race slammed him for those same reasons. Michele Bachmann (whose views I find to be truly conservative) was quite vocal with her opposition, but yet a quick peruse of her website yields nothing in regards to what SHE would do with our immigration problem. I haven’t heard the other candidates say much more specifically on the topic either. Let’s face it- our federal government’s attitude towards immigration has been epically lackadaisical, and as a result we’re left with a whopper of a problem to solve.
A few days ago I heard a radio commentator make an excellent point. It’s been percolating in my mind since then, and I’d really like to expand upon it. The commentator’s point was simple: (paraphrased) “basically, so having broken the law for 25 consecutive years suddenly absolves the illegal immigrant of any wrongdoing? By being here illegally, they are guilty of one or more of the following: illegal crossing, tax evasion, and identity theft.”
His point is well taken, and I wholeheartedly agree. For the aforementioned things, there must be consequences. Period. Simply granting amnesty or something like it only attracts more of the same. “After all,” they may think, “if I can evade the authorities for long enough, they will eventually let me stay.”
Here’s where I’m torn, however. Quite simply, deportation of all 12+ million illegal aliens is a whole lot easier said than done. You cannot wave a wand and deport that quantity of people. The courts are backed up with deportation cases as it is. It would never happen to its full extent, and in the end they’d (the illegal aliens) end up staying here anyway, and we’d be right back at square one. Additionally, many of the illegal immigrants have had kids here, which means that only the parents would be deported while the kids (through a gross misinterpretation of the 14th amendment are American citizens) stay here.
While the guilt lies with those who have crossed the border illegally or scammed the system to stay here “legally,” we must also recognize that some fault lies with our nation, as we have a completely broken immigration system that is compacted by the fact that our border has gone undefended and left quite porous. When an immigration system makes it virtually impossible to come here legally; when the system is so backed up that it’s virtually impossible to truly track who has a legitimate case and who doesn’t; when there’s a crack-filled border readily available for one to cross and skip past all the red tape and fees. . . it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we have the illegal population that we do.
Having lived in Mexico, and having the unique vantage point of being married to a legal Mexican immigrant (who came to the snows of the Great White North just for me, bless his crazy heart!), I want to speak from that perspective for a moment. Let me preface this with the fact that I realize not all illegal immigration comes from our Southern border. It does constitute a majority, however, and as such I’ll focus on it. The nations south of our border do not always present an easy place to live. There are areas of poverty unlike most of us have ever seen, and the opportunities both for a good education and stable employment simply do not exist as they do here. As such, families migrate in search of a way to provide for their families because their home country simply does not foster this sort of environment.
Along those lines, I had the most interesting conversation a few weeks back with my husband and a friend of his (also from Mexico) who spent a few days with us recently. Not surprisingly, the conversation naturally migrated (no pun intended) towards immigration. While many people do in fact want to come here because they love what America stands for and want to become an American in the fullest sense, most people do not want to leave their home country. They are often left with little in the way of a choice. They leave to find what will put food in their mouths and a roof over their heads. By the way, that helps to explain why people are not assimilating. That is why people are not integrating into the American culture as immigrants of times past have done. They are coming to reap the benefits of this nation without much desire to leave their nation behind. I understand this. It still doesn’t make it “right,” but I get it.
This also helps me understand Newt’s supplementary point; that is, that we aren’t always dealing with typical “criminals” when we’re talking about illegal aliens. Don’t get me wrong- they are breaking the law. At the same time, most illegal immigrants do not come with malicious intent to scam the United States by breaking immigration laws. They’re coming because their own countries are so entrenched in socialistic, big government (gee, sound familiar?) policies that people simply have a hard time getting ahead. As I said while discussing this with our friend, if Mexico and other Latin American countries would simply let the private sector do the driving; more specifically, let the MARKET do the driving, people wouldn’t be making a beeline for our border. Frankly, I feel that we are well within our rights to advise countries like Mexico to review their economic policies because after all, our system is having to bear the results of their failed economic and social policies. . .but I suppose that’s wading into dangerous “is this our business” territory”. . .and I’ve digressed. I suppose the absence of a literal civil war (a la drug cartels) would probably help keep people in Mexico as well.
With ALL of that said, we cannot play the benevolent mother hen under whose wing the whole world can run. Do not misunderstand me. I have absolutely nothing against immigration. After all, my Scottish-Irish-English-Welsh-Dutch-Jewish-French-German heritage seems to make it clear that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for immigration. However, we must understand that there are over 300 million American citizens to whom this nation owes its first-fruits. That said, along with that fact must come the understanding that the our current immigration system makes it virtually impossible to come here legally. I must have said it a million times as my husband and I traversed through the paperwork jungle that is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): “I certainly can see why so many people just hop the border!” It is a mess. Unless you have some VERY specific connection (i.e. school, a job offer, a fiancé, or a family member already here) it is virtually impossible to apply for a green card. Sometimes, as was the case for my husband’s coworker’s nephew-in-law, having such a connection did not prevent a denial in the process, even when the person (and in this case their marriage to an American citizen) is completely legitimate.
Even WITH one of the aforementioned connections (i.e. job, family, marriage) it is virtually impossible to go through the process without the costly advice of a lawyer. Our budget did not dictate such services; thus, I visited with a lawyer exactly one time, took pages of notes, and plowed forward on my own. Almost one year, buckets of sweat and tears and several thousand dollars later, I was reunited with my fiancé. We were married. Unfortunately, we failed to file one portion of the seemingly endless paperwork correctly and my husband was unable to work for months, while we awaited the treasured permit. Another several months of financial hardship went by, and we finally received a temporary permanent residence card. Another two years and quite a bit of green (again, no pun intended!) later, we finally received his “permanent” permanent residence card. That is, until 10 years are up and he must renew. He is eligible for citizenship after having the card for 5 years. All the while keep in mind we were kept virtually in the dark throughout the process. It’s almost impossible to call USCIS and speak to a person. When USCIS occasionally surfaces to contact you, you’re treated like a disease. You’re poked, prodded, and generally looked down upon. Are you catching my drift here? My husband was a college-educated, middle class Mexican citizen with some savings when he started this process. Imagine an uneducated, lower class, poor family trying to traverse through the process. No wonder why so many people give their life savings, however much that might be, to a “coyote” to sneak them across the border.
Ok, so now that we understand the reasons why people immigrate, and the next-to-impossible process of doing it legally, I want to get back to what we are going to do about it. Here’s the problem, plain and simple: we have over 12 million illegal aliens currently residing here. We have a porous, unsecured border. I suppose it doesn’t help that we have an administration that sets firearms smack-dab in the hands of cartel leaders (i.e. Operation Fast & Furious). . . but that’s for another blog post.
So, what do we do about it? There seem to be two choices. Deportation, or amnesty. As we’ve previously discussed, deportation of that many people is a logistical nightmare, and probably isn’t realistic. Amnesty is also wrong, as it seemingly overlooks any wrongdoing on the part of the illegal. Furthermore, amnesty’s ill is two-fold. First, it is unfair to the law-abiding tax-paying American citizen. Second, it is unfair to people such as my husband who wait in a seemingly endless line of paperwork, fees, and red tape, while those who have done none of that receive a pass to stay. What a conundrum.
So, what would I do if I was queen for a day?
Why, funny you should ask.
First: immediately deport all involved in and convicted of violent crimes. IMMEDIATELY. Do not pass go- do not collect 200 dollars. If the person is convicted of a crime, get them out of our prison system and off our tax dollars. Hand them over to their governments.
For those left, I would add caveats to the plan Gingrich put forward. Incidentally, he wasn’t talking about citizenship (which is “true” amnesty), he was talking about residency. Citizenship would still require an additional process. Anyway, they must agree to the following:
Learn English, learn the culture, learn the country’s history, pay taxes, and contribute to one’s community in some fashion within a 5 year period. I’d also like to see a payment plan set up to pay back any taxes they avoided while flying under the radar.
Be deported. I feel that it’s pretty safe to say that most will take the challenge mentioned prior. Those who don’t make that choice, or don’t comply with that choice, would be deported, and this would “stagger” the deportations that must take place.
Interestingly, as I write this I was studying Newt Gingrich’s site, and it seems that after he made those brief comments in the debate, he outlined virtually identical stipulations. GOOD. I was a little worried.
Before ALL of this, however, the border MUST be secured. Gingrich makes this crystal clear as well. Anything done on this end of immigration is null without a closed border. Last but not least, the misinterpretation and misuses of the 14th amendment supposedly allowing “anchor baby” citizenship MUST be addressed. One might be interested in what the author of that amendment, the late Senator Jacob Howard, of the amendment had to say: “…will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors, or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States.” Today, of course, that definition is ignored, and anyone who has a child on U.S. soil rests assured that that child is a U.S. citizen. When a country has a system that allows for the wife of an infamous Mexican cartel leader to cross the border into Los Angeles, enter an American hospital, and have twins that are automatically granted citizenship, there is a serious problem. This is an ENORMOUS source of system abuse. Think of what this allows- if the children are considered American citizens, they can later sponsor their parents to become legal citizens, and so on.
Either way this is done, it’s going to cost the taxpayer money. To send them back or to monitor them in a legalization process here…it all costs money. This is a result of our government’s chronic laziness and apathy towards the whole issue, both in regards to immigration processes and the border. While I don’t like the idea of allowing people to stay here who came here illegally, what are our options? We’re left with our government’s mess, and cleaning it up is going to be a nightmare. While it may not be ideal, at least Newt Gingrich had the guts to come out with a plan at all; a plan that is neither full amnesty nor blanket deportation, and with the situation that currently faces us, such a blended approach not only seems prudent, but in my opinion, it is the only realistic way to go about it.
LET ME BE VERY CLEAR, for any who should misunderstand. I am still against amnesty in the traditional sense. If Gingrich’s plan didn’t contain the stipulations that it did, I would whole heartedly oppose it. Period.