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President Obama only has four years from this time to get some pretty important things done. First and foremost, he has to either steer us away from, or successfully guide our dissent over the fiscal cliff. We have our longest running war ever to deal with. We have a war on drugs that’s silly, a massive waste of taxpayer money, and doesn’t actually accomplish much more than to fund the salaries of government and law enforcement agencies. We have marriage equality. And we have immigration reform. Maybe President Obama won’t be able to fully resolve or tackle all of these issues, but outside of the fiscal cliff, nothing is more important than immigration reform.
The only immigration problem we have in this country is one that is self-inflicted. Rather than tackle the rather sizable task of immigration reform, we’ve had leaders in Washington, D.C. continually kick the can down the street. The bottom line, as I see it anyway, is that the massive effort it would take to round up, suss out, and then deport all those immigrants who are here without proper documentation is ludicrously superfluous. Nobody wants to just come out and say it, except for those who are maybe deemed as radicals on the issue of immigration, but clearly we need to do one thing, and one thing only: Give amnesty to those who are already here.
Think about it. We have probably hundreds of thousands of people who came here looking for a better life, and who probably would much prefer to be naturalized citizens, giving them the same rights we all enjoy. Those people are the kinds of people we want adding to our GDP. We want them as taxpayers and members of our community, because they probably care much more about this country and the principles we were founded on much more than some of us whose families have been here for generations.
Yes, they broke the law to come here. Let’s all just deal with that one okay? They broke international laws of immigration to come into this country “illegally.” Fine. But I ask you this, if when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth back in the seventeenth century there had been natives here asking for identification and proof that the Puritans “belonged” in North America, what do you think the results would have been? The point I’m making of course is that the very first people to come here landed on a continent that was already inhabited by thousands, if not millions of natives. Then we spent the next several decades eradicating and penning them, sequestering people who had lived here for hundreds of years on reservations.
Indeed, I am arguing that maybe the best reason for granting amnesty for those who are already here is quite simply that we owe a debt to karma. We owe a debt to humanity itself for the atrocities we, as immigrants to a new land, treated those who were already here. We owe a debt to humanity for enslaving an entire race of people while hypocritically claiming to be of the opinion that all of us are born equally important to the other.
I suppose maybe I just feel like maybe since we didn’t always get it right with the Chinese, Irish, Italian, Japanese or African immigrants to this country, maybe we could try to get it right with the immigrants from Latin countries.
Oh, I can hear conservatives, and possibly even some on the left, going ballistic over my suggestion that we owe it to society in general to legalize perhaps millions of people who broke the law to come here, simply out of some doe-eyed allegiance ideology. I suppose you can classify my response to those who would attack me for believing in the true American doctrine of being a melting pot for all those who wish to come here and make life better for everyone around them, as well as for their families would be, “Pfffffffffftttttttttttt.” At some point this nation needs to take a long, hard look at the immigration issue and come to realize that we can’t do anything about the situation until we deal efficiently and humanely with those who are already here.
I’d even be willing to entertain the idea of shutting our borders completely for even a few years if it meant that we’d be able to effectively document those here and get them into the system. It’s sort of simple math for me. The more people we get documented, the more people will be paying into the social safety net, and the better our economy will be positioned when we have millions of Americans to add to the labor force. Many of those here “illegally” are staying on expired student visas after their college work ends. These are fully trained and educated people who could be valuable engineers, doctors, scientists, or any other number of highly skilled and necessary laborers needed for the new era in American society.
It’s simply shortsighted and cruel to attempt to just round them up and boot them out, regardless of how much potential they have to offer.
The truth, when you take away all the hysterics, is that the Latino/Hispanic population in this country is on the rise, one way or another. No country can sustain unending streams of undocumented workers, that much is true. However, there comes a point when you have to separate ideology from reality. And the reality is that a mass deportation is just not in the cards, no matter how you slice it. Sure, we can make conditions for the amnesty, such as basic civics courses so that all our immigrants can at least grasp the way our system works as well as the white, 22-year-old kid from Kentucky. Oh wait. That kid probably knows less about our system than any undocumented worker does already.
Regardless of whether we put reasonable hurdles in place for those we are offering amnesty to, or whether we give them a reasonable amount of time to simply find their way into a Department of Homeland Security office, or whomever we task with the job of getting these folks documented, we have to do the right thing here. Dragging our feet on assimilating everyone who’s already here in the country isn’t going to accomplish anything.
Except maybe to frustrate a segment of our populace who desperately wants to contribute to society, but are not being given the chance to do so.