SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

The War on Immigrants

Posted by shadmia on September 21, 2006

Previously published on Newsvine

President Bush has decided to send in the National Guard to help defend the southern border of the US against illegal immigration. As many as 6,000 guardsmen will be sent to help the Border Patrol. They will have a two week stint before being rotated. They will not be active in apprehending illegals but provide logistic, training and material support for the Border Patrol. They will start deployment in June.

In addition to the troops, Bush urged Congress to enact some form of a guest worker program whereby immigrants will be allowed to work in the US for a specified period of time and then have to return home. With regards to the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the US, Bush would like to see some sort of program that will eventually lead to legalization with appropriate penalties for crossing illegally into the US.

All this was outlined in his speech to the nation on Monday, May 15, 2006.

REACTIONS

The Mexican president Vicente Fox, whose country shares a 2,000 mile border with the US voiced his opposition to this plan in a telephone call to president Bush the day before this speech was given, but conceded that there was nothing he could do but respect the wishes of the US president.

Republican congress leaders generally supported the president on sending the National Guard to help the Border Patrol but criticized other elements of his speech.

“Utilizing the National Guard is an effective, short-term stopgap to immediately strengthen border security as long-range reforms begin to take effect.” — Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

“While I appreciate the president’s willingness to tackle big problems, I have real concerns about moving forward with a guest worker program or a plan to address those currently in the United States illegally until we have adequately addressed our serious border security problems.” — House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

The Democratic response was more critical.

“It is not enough for President Bush to tell us he wants to increase security at our borders. After all, he’s had five years to do it. If he wants to be credible on border security, he must acknowledge his mistakes and commit to fixing them.” — Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

“We must protect our borders, but militarizing our borders is a desperate response by the president to his and Republican Congress’ policy failures.” — House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

THE PROBLEM

President Bush’s attempt to highlight the immigration problem and push congress to come up with a solution has had the effect of polarizing the American public on an issue that has been on the back burner of national politics for many years. There is no easy solution to this problem.

On one hand immigrants come to the US to find jobs that will better their lives and provide for their families back home. They come into the US illegally and tend to depress wages in the unskilled labor market because they are willing to work for less than their American counterparts.

On the other hand both the government and employers are guilty of aiding and abetting these illegal immigrants. The US government has failed to secure the borders and when people are caught trying to cross the border, they are only sent home to try again. If they manage to enter the US, there is no shortage of work for them because employers are willing to overlook their illegal status and offer them employment (usually at reduced wages, but much more than they would be able to earn in their home lands).

Over the years this has led to an underground labor force that has no legal status but has built a life in the US. They work, buy homes or rent apartments, have children (who, by the way, ARE US citizens) and settle down. They are consumers and aid the US economy. There have been attempts in the past to normalize their existence by offering amnesty but the problem with this is that new immigrants keep coming in illegally. The borders are not secure. There are currently about 12 million illegal immigrants in the US, comprising approximately 5% of the entire work force.

THE SOLUTION

First we must stop treating illegal immigrants like they are the enemy. Unlike the many “Wars” we are fighting:

The War on Terrorism, The War on Drugs, The War on Crime, The War on Poverty etc.

We don’t need a War on Immigrants.

They have the same hopes and aspirations as all of us……to live a better life and to provide for their families.

We must realize that the primary reason people come to this country illegally is economics. They come here in search of a better life. They come looking for work. They come here to support their families. They come looking for the “American Dream”. They are not lazy. They are not free loaders. They are not criminals. They are not terrorists. Legal emigration to the US can take years of waiting without any guarantees. This is not a viable option when your family is hungry and desperate.

The long term solution to illegal immigration is to work with neighboring countries in Latin America, especially Mexico, to find ways to enhance the economic situation of their citizens. If people can make a decent living in their own country there would be no need to migrate.

Job creation through either direct financial assistance or trade arrangements is one option. What can the US do to stimulate the economies of Latin America? This is what we should be asking of our neighbors: How can we help? This should be the number one priority. We need to help our neighbors to help themselves.

Next, making the borders more secure has to be on the agenda. The more difficult it is to cross the less likely people will be willing to try.

Employers must be made to understand that there will be adverse and serious consequences for hiring illegal workers. If illegal immigrants can not find employment here, then they won’t come.

Since there is no practical, economical or humane way to deport millions of people, provide the mechanism that will allow them to stay. They are already contributing to the economy. They already have homes and children here. They are part of this society. Bring them out into the open.

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