Monday, November 19, 2007

The Soapbox

Containing the Flood
By Joe Shehan

Growing up as a kid, I was often told the story of the lil Dutch boy trying to save his town from the ensuing flood by plugging holes in the dyke with his fingers. That image has a lot of weight in today’s world, especially in regards to immigration. We should not consider it a curse that millions of people from all over the world try to come to this country. If anything, we should see it as the compliment that it is, however, we should seek to remedy the problem faced by people disregarding those laws either for life or profit. This is the real root of the debate.

Much of the immigration debate, like many of the debates in this country, is divided down the ideological line. If you believe that the government has infinite resources, and should take care of anyone who asks, then you would not see the difference in a legal immigrant and an illegal immigrant, and you would use the term “undocumented” to describe the later. That being said, if you recognize that the “infinite” resources of the federal government already come from an overtaxed populace, then you tend to have a more “black and white” viewpoint towards this issue. Yet, no matter your ideological viewpoint, this country still faces a very real situation of porous borders and illegal immigrants. So, what is the best course of action?

Much of the problem lies in three areas: 1. Porous Borders, 2. Unscrupulous Employers and 3. Impossible Visa Application Program. Each one of these three issues creates problems both logistically and politically for Members of Congress. Yet, doing nothing creates even more problems.

In the 1980s, President Reagan granted a sweeping amnesty to illegal immigrants that were in the country at the time, with the belief that the federal government would do its job of curbing the tide. That as we have come to learn did not happen, and almost 20 years later we are facing the same crisis. We must do something, and to begin the process we should look at the three main problems.

Closing the Borders

History shows that countries without well secure borders are doomed to fall to the outside world’s dangers and influence. Past presidents have even acknowledged this fact. Yet, today our borders are porous, and it is becoming increasingly easer to cross into this country. Even with improvements in technology and executive orders enforced through the Department of Homeland Security, the borders are still being violated.

We need to reestablish the border by forcefully enforcing it. Placing the National Guard on the borders, and putting virtually impassible walls and fences in places too remote to patrol could help facilitate eliminating access points to this country.

Though closing the borders would create a logistical nightmare for many of the Border States, it could provide some temporary relief while we try to get a hold of the problem.

Take Away the Incentive

Many of the people to who come to this country illegally are in search of a better life for themselves and their families. If there were no jobs for them to have here in this country, there would be no reason to break our laws. Now, I am not advocating killing our economy, but what I am advocating is enforcing the existing employment laws and going after the business who hire illegal or undocumented workers.

Local cities, like Irving and Farmers Branch have enacted such laws, and they have seen much of their illegal population dissipate. Now, there are those in the community who are worried that will hurt the local economy, but as of right now things seem to be looking fine. Only time will tell.

Irving and Farmers Branch are not the only cities who have seen such phenomena. Other towns in Nevada and Arizona have seen such results.

Fix the Immigration Service

One reason many illegals find it necessary to break our laws, is because the process to become a documented worker and even a citizen takes an astronomically long time. To simply get a green card to work here can take up to 10 years. During that time anything can happen, and if the family is truly destitute they could be ruined by that time. For some illegal immigrants, they believe it is better to ask forgiveness later then wait.

We live in a time of unparalleled technology, and the ability to share information is far better than anytime in history. Because of these advancements in technology, one has to ask, “Why does it take so long?”

National Security is important and doing background checks on people who seek to live in this country is necessary, but to take 10 years to do so is ridiculous. If this country is ever going to be able to fix the immigration problem, we need to be able to process applications for work visas and citizenship much faster.

As the grandson of an immigrant I am sensitive to the plight of immigrants. My family still feels the pains of signs that read, “No Irish Need Apply.” That being said, I do believe in the necessity of laws, and that if we do not honor our own laws all for the sake of scoring some cheap political points, then we do a dishonor to the millions of immigrants who come here legally every year. Immigrants are the life blood of our society, and our acceptance of all peoples is what makes America great. But, we need to make sure that it is those who wish to come here to be American that comes into our country and not those who wish to destroy everything that is American.

“There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t and American at all…we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is a loyalty to the American people.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1919

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