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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Tricky Issue of Illegal Immigration

I have to admit, in the interest of full disclosure, that three of my children would not exist if there was no problem with illegal immigration. While their birth mother was a Native American, their fathers were illegal immigrants. Yes, "fathers" plural; they were adopted as a sibling group, and such situations are standard in homes in which children are removed by court order. Still, the parentage of my children may have some influence on the complexity of my feelings and thoughts on the issue of illegal immigration. For me, it is not an easy issue, though I do have a definite stance on it.

As a father, if my family were facing starvation or murder by drug cartels, the impulse to flee would be incredibly strong, especially if the nation to which I was fleeing was the United States of America. Sociologists call this a "push factor," the things pushing people out of their native lands. I understand this. I have family in Mexico, and have visited quite a bit as a youth. I've seen what people are fleeing from.

The United States also offers many "pull factors." We have a generous welfare state for citizens as well as immigrants. The use of health care in hospital emergency rooms is free in the United States; there are bright, large-type notices in several languages to that effect. Granted, you are asked for a name and address, as well as insurance information. However, it is widely known that it is impossible (and illegal) for hospitals to ensure the accuracy of this information as a prerequisite for giving care. All children born on U.S. soil are granted citizenship, regardless of the immigration status of their parents, and are thus entitled by law to social services. In most states, this results in the parents of said children gaining access to those same services. Jobs are much more plentiful here than in Mexico. The work Americans "just won't do" is just the sort of work to which most immigrants are accustomed. All of these act as enticements making relocation, legal or illegal, that much more attractive.

The issue at stake is not whether illegal immigrants are evil or immoral. I'm quite sure most of us would do whatever we had to in order to feed our children and care for our families. Neither is the issue one of race or ethnicity. In my not-so-humble opinion, raising the spectre of racism every time immigration is discussed is simply a way of avoiding debate. Moreover, immigration is not a question of race but of nationality. (Technically there are only three, possibly four races: Negroid, Mongoloid, Caucasoid, and depending on the current academic climate, Native American.) Thus, those who oppose open immigration policies are not generally motivated by hatred, but by self-interest, which is essentially the same motivator as those who embrace open immigration.

My criterion for immigration policy is quite simple, much simpler than the volumes and volumes that have been written on the subject by so many distinguished experts. The only factor that should have any weight in deciding immigration policy is what is in the interest of the citizens of the United States of America. Yes, by citizens I mean actual legal-to-vote citizens, either native born or legally naturalized. While it is "nice" to think of immigration as a way to help the world's needy, such an attitude is detrimental to the national interest. I would favor a policy in which the following steps were mandatory:

1. All employers must run potential employees' identification through E-Verify. While there have been a few isolated cases in which mistakes have been reported, such mistakes can be remedied through the proper channels. (For more information, click here.)

2. Local and state police authorities will not only be authorized to enforce federal immigration law, but will be required to do so on penalty of treason against the laws and government of the United States. While it has been widely criticized in the media, the Arizona law to this effect takes stringent measures to ensure that unjust discrimination is avoided. (To see the specific details, click here.)

3. A defensible border wall will be constructed within one year. Approximate measurements would be twenty feet high by three feet wide, with a rounded top to make it difficult to scale. Considering that we have fabricated thousands of miles of "sound walls" along our freeways and busy streets at the taxpayers' expense, there is no excuse for not securing our borders. (Click here for more.)

4. A Constitutional amendment should be passed specifying that only those children born of at least one citizen or permanent legal resident on American soil have the right of natural-born citizenship. The United States and Canada are the only developed countries in the world still practicing jus soli citizenship, or the policy that any child born on national soil is an automatic citizen. The rest of the world has moved away from the practice out of necessity. (This is one of the few times you will find me using foreign nations' policies on any issue as an example we should emulate.)

5. Immigration for any other reason than the unification of the spouse and/or legally recognized children of a current citizen will halt any time the national unemployment rate climbs above five percent. When demand for labor is down, it is foolhardy to increase the supply. Anyone who has studied basic economics (or has an ounce of common sense) will understand why this is necessary.

I would like to re-emphasize here that I am pro-immigrant. I have several relatives who have immigrated to this country. I enjoy the diversity of culture and especially cuisine that immigration brings. However, let us never forget that the government of the United States exists to serve the interests of the citizens of the United States. Immigration policy is no exception.

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