A reader of the Reading (Ca.) Record Searchlight does not like my take on the immigration debate. He writes:
You start by saying Obama did a "righteous thing." By whose definition? Is circumventing congress righteous in your opinion? Are constsnt rewards for illegal immigrants a good thing, knowing their presence puts millions of Americans out of work (including minorities, the poor, the young, and blue collar workers) and costing us well over $100 billion per years a righteous thing? I am assuming you are on the liberal side of things. Liberals seem to operate on emotion. I think that they believe that heart-felt emotion trumps reason, logic, and adhearance to the law. You admit that we, as a nation, have the right to defend its borders and enforce our laws, but you just don't want us to do that for "moral" reasons. Huh? is it moral that the people of our country constantly suffer at the hands of of millions of illegals and a federal government that has an agenda of its own that doesn't include keeping our country sovereign?
Question-If we let the younger illegals stay, will that be enough for you, or do you want amnesty ("comprehensive immigration reform") for the other millions of illegals? I'd like a response to this one, please. Why does my country keep on backing down, backing up, and bending over on this issue? When to we get a president that actually puts Americans first and says, "Illegal immigration is wrong. It is bad for this country. It should never have been allowed to get to this point in the first place and is no longer acceptable. From now on, it will no longer be tolerated, so all those in the country illegally, regardless of race, ethnicity, nation of origin, or income/educational level, will have to leave by a set deadline. Failue to do so will incur severe penalties. The illegal immigration "party is over?" Why are we always pandering to people who have no right to be here? Why is that righteous and moral? ALL illegal immigrants should face the threat of deportation.
Betraying this country in favor of millions of trespassers is in no way righteous.My reader and I disagree on just how much America has "suffered" from illegal immigration; I think it's obvious there have also been benefits, to a great many people, or there wouldn't be such market for illegal immigrants to fill. It's also indisputably true that illegal immigrants often pay taxes—particularly Social Security taxes—that they'll never get to benefit from. And a lot of the pain and suffering created by illegal immigration is probably because it's illegal—like Prohibition, we're creating more problems than we solve by criminalizing behavior. So is it a net good or a net negative that there are so many illegal immigrants here? Since I'm a namby-pamby liberal, I suspect it's a net good; and if it is a net bad, it's probably not nearly as bad as what the most ardent opponents (like my reader) believe and would have you believe.
Now, the question: Amnesty?
I don't think that's necessary, but I probably have a narrower idea of what constitutes "amnesty." If it means that we shouldn't deport every last person here illegally...then maybe I believe in amnesty--mostly because I think we can't and won't. The resources simply don't exist. "ALL illegal immigrants should face the threat of deportation?" Good luck with that.
But. I think there's a middle ground between "deport them all" and a full-blown path to citizenship. I think most reasonable solutions to solving the immigration issue involve greatly expanding work permits that allow foreign workers to legally enter the country and work here. And by greatly, I mean numbering in the millions. Essentially, we'd tell people who are currently residing here illegally: "You came here the wrong way. That means you forfeited the possibility of becoming a citizen and gaining those benefits. But by registering legally, you'll have permission to work and to go home on occasion without have to make a risky re-entry into the United States."Only workers who'd originally entered the United States through approved means would ever be eligible for citizenship.
What does this accomplish? A few things:
• It relieves the federal government of the strain of trying to chase quite so many illegal immigrants if fewer of them are illegal. That's a money saver.
• It's been documented that many illegal immigrants aren't so much interested in citizenship as they are in work; if they could go home without risking their lives on re-entry, many of them would. Many such folks settle here for no better reason than it's hard to go back home. Giving folks legal status might change that dynamic.
• If immigrants had legal status, it might be more difficult for employers to exploit them, wage-wise, and indirectly suppress wages available for American citizens.
There would be other benefits, I think, as well.
But yes, I stand by the "righteousness" of Obama's act: Yes, many young people are here illegally, but A) it's not their fault and B) they're not culturally "of" their home countries. Shipping them back to homes they never knew ends up destroying a lot of those lives--without, I think, creating a enough of a deterrent to future offenders to make those destroyed opportunities worth it. They lose more than we as a society lose by letting them stay. Better to use them as a resource for creating a better America. It's not a perfect solution, because it means we have to accept the fruits of illegal immigration. But we're going to do that anyway, so let's at least do it in a productive, positive fashion.
Final thought: I've been at anti-immigration rallies—and yes, they were often more "anti-immigration" than "anti-illegal immigration." It may well be that liberals emote on this issue, but I guarantee we don't have the market cornered.