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June 9, 2007

Some Thoughts on Immigration

The issue of legal vs. illegal immigration has become such a hot potato issue that I’m afraid nothing constructive can be done without alienating a lot of people along the way. With that in mind, I’ll attempt to lay out three simple guiding principles that I feel are needed to properly address this issue.

It is often the simple things with the fewest moving parts that work best and are the most reliable. It is my hope that by breaking this complex emotional issue down into a few simple parts we can together chart an agreeable path that actually makes sense and doesn’t create a bunch of hard feelings and distrust.

So, without further ado, here is what I feel must be addressed if we are to find an equitable and long-term solution to the legal vs. illegal immigration problem:

  • Secure Our Borders. And by that I mean all our borders — our southern AND northern borders AND coastlines. That means whatever it takes to control passage back and forth. It can be any combination of the following: fences, border patrol and/or National Guard patrols, technology, the Coast Guard, and other yet to be developed surveillance methods.
  • Enforce the Law. If it’s the law, it should be enforced. If it’s not being enforced then we should dedicate sufficient resources to enforce it or perhaps that law should be repealed or amended to something more workable. Whatever we decide as a nation, we must be serious and consistent or the system breaks down at the weakest link.
  • Continue to Welcome Legal Immigrants. As a nation of immigrants — a melting pot — I don’t think we need to slam the door shut to newcomers. Our welcome mat should remain in place for immigrants who share our core values of honesty, hard work and good morals, who are committed to learning English and assimilating into our culture, and who love our country and want to become an American.

So with that in mind, what must we do to address the problems of illegal immigration? My suggestion is to take the above 3 steps in order. If we know we have a problem with insecure borders, then we must as a matter of national security address that issue first and foremost. We’ve caught bad guys and terrorists on both our northern and southern borders so we must secure both sides. I think it is wrong and short-sighted to focus on just the southern border while ignoring other vulnerabilities.

Yes, I wish we could return to the days of open borders and no barriers, but in a post 9/11 world, that is extremely foolish and even suicidal. With sworn enemies Iran and North Korea producing nuclear materials and looking for ways to hurt us, it’s only a matter of time before they would find a way to bribe their way through Mexico or Canada and into our country through these porous borders. We must control both our borders and our coastlines too.

We also must not open ourselves up by default to absorb the unemployed and underemployed from the rest of the world. Yes, I want to welcome hard-working immigrants but we must be able to do this in an orderly and legal process. To do otherwise creates an underclass that lives in the shadows, is tempted by the dark side, remains vulnerable to exploitation and is unable to advance economically and live the American dream. The status quo is doing nobody — us or the illegal immigrants — a favor.

Thus we must enforce the law so everybody lives by the same law. If the laws on the books are unworkable, then provide more resources or amend them so that our laws are not a joke and are actually being enforced. To ignore them is to create a class of people that are conditioned from day one to break our laws. That’s a horrible way to start a new life and encourages more bad behavior down the road.

Finally, after we have addressed my first two points, we can once again put the welcome mat out for immigrants. Assuming proper safety screening are in place to filter out criminal and health risks, we can begin accepting an orderly flow of new people to enrich our nation and expand the American dream.

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