First, let’s be clear that the issue is about non-citizens who are in America without the legal right to be here. Many of them are people who arrived with a valid visa and stayed beyond the expiration of their documentation. Some arrived without the legal right to do so. Likely, there are other descriptors for these folks, but all share an important characteristic: They broke the law.
It doesn’t matter if they did it with that intention before entering America or things changed once they were here and they did not want to or could not leave. All of those are simply stories of explanation and they do not change the fact that they broke the law.
There is a substantial imperative from our sense of right and wrong that wrongdoing deserves consequences. Our sense of right and wrong is offended when a wrongdoer gets away with it. Doubt that? Consider your feelings about the Goldman Sachs creeps who promoted worthless mortgage backed securities to their clients while at the same time dumping their own holdings of those securities. That’s called fraud, but not one of those guys has been prosecuted. One more time: How do you feel when wrongdoers get away with it?
Of course, our immigration issue isn’t that simple. If the estimates are correct we have somewhere in the vicinity of 12 million people here without permission. Catching, prosecuting and deporting that many people is simply not do-able – that’s a limit of logistics. Sure, we can make a show of it, but that would be substantively meaningless.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution says that people who are born in America are American citizens, regardless of the nationality of their parents. What will we do with the Made-In-America children of our non-citizens? We tried to take a step forward on that with The Dream Act, but the knuckle-draging, fanged droolers in Congress shot it down. Do we prosecute and deport the parents, leaving their minor children to be wards of the state? Do we deport the kids, too, even though they are American citizens?
The people who are here illegally are paying Social Security tax, Medicare fees, sales taxes, real estate taxes and they help to support our communities in many ways. They contribute to society as friends and neighbors and many of them do jobs that you won’t do, but which need to be done. That complicates things.
But what about the people who have been standing in line for a long time, following the rules to become naturalized Americans? How could it be fair to them to allow those who broke the law to have the same opportunity and to be in line with them? It seems that there are a lot of balls to juggle to arrive at a solution that is fair and reasonable to everyone.
And there is one more aspect to consider – it’s found in the mirror.
We have all been complicit in allowing people to be here illegally because we have liked and benefited from the low skill jobs that get done because there have been people here we could exploit. We haven’t prosecuted employers for knowingly employing those folks and paying them poorly. We’ve made stabs at requiring employers to verify the right to work of employee candidates but at the same time we have prevented employers from being able to access the information necessary to know whether they are complying with the law. We have consistently refused to dedicate the necessary resources to stop people from entering this country illegally. To put all the blame and consequences onto those here illegally is hypocrisy.
There is a good chance that Congress will either find a compromise that satisfies nobody and frustrates everybody or it will do its now-familiar polarization dance, with the knuckle-dragging, fanged droolers once again trying to sound like tough, patriotic Americans, but succeeding only in preventing us from solving our problem. Whatever we decide to do and whatever your point of view on this issue, just get that immigration is a lot like many other issues, in that it is more complex than we’d like it to be and a simple black-and-white analysis is willfully blind and of no value.
Okay, this is switching topics – slightly – but it may help to understand the black-and-white types in our midst.
That “no value” part of a simple black-and-white analysis is true, unless you’re up for re-election. Then doing whack-a-brain stupid stuff like casting a polarized vote that goes against the will of the American people may get you lots of special interest campaign cash. Think about that the next time some American flag pin wearing legislator googles their eyes and proudly froths out dingbat stuff. How proud their mothers must be.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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