Currently the word immigration raises the tenor of any dialog, because it is such a highly emotional, inflammatory subject. Our great country was founded on the basis of immigration and throughout our history we have grown significantly by the number of people lawfully entering. The hot-button portion of this subject is the failure to abide to a realistic, legal immigration policy.
On June 19, 1885 the unassembled parts of the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City as a gift from France to celebrate our centennial, which occurred some nine years earlier. On that wondrous statue are engraved the following words from Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus:”
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
(Editor’s note: Part of the program for my 8th grade graduation in 1962 consisted of the class reciting Emma Lazarus’s moving and famous words along with singing Woody Guthrie’s much loved song, “This Land Is Your Land.” I have never forgotten the words and meaning of her sonnet and his lyrics.)
I firmly believe that every American believes in those beautiful words and supports immigration as an integral part of the American fabric. Aside from the Native American Indians we are all products of immigration with proud roots from all over the planet. Absent from the debate is the fact that our population is now substantially larger than it was back in 1885, and some fair and orderly restraints are appropriate to be placed on immigration to our country in the 21st Century.
It is obvious that many countries around the world cannot or do not want to provide for all their inhabitants, so they urge immigration, legal or illegal, to alleviate their internal population problems. While I believe we should welcome people to our shores, it is equally realistic to recognize that we cannot and should not have an unrestrained open door to everyone and everybody. Citizenship in the USA should be desired and then earned under our terms, not some foreign government’s policy of dumping their dregs or criminal elements like Cuba has.
Many of the United States most egregious problems can be traced directly to illegal immigration, but we have repeatedly failed to get our hands around an acceptable solution due to numerous, powerful special interest influences. A major factor in our huge national debt obligation is a direct result of massive welfare costs accrued from millions of illegal immigrants residing across our country. Every state government is being negatively influenced by massive costs for food stamps, crime, prison costs, gangs, bilingual education, spiraling welfare costs, non-reimbursed health care, drugs, and unemployment statistics. Were we to eliminate or reduce substantially the direct costs of illegal immigration, we could realistically begin to reduce our long-term national debt.
It is foolish to think we can just ship all the illegal immigrants back to their country of origin, because it would negatively impact our national economy in the short-term. It is also foolish to believe that our political leadership will dare negatively impact the illegal immigrant community, because politicians actually thrive on their very existence.
I suggest that an acceptable place to start is multi-faceted. First, close the borders to only legal entry thus immediately improving our national security. Enforce visa termination dates, thus reducing the number of illegal residents. Also, require a reporting system for those here on student visas. Require state governments to establish stronger standards for the issuance of driver licenses. Eliminate the policy of safe havens, such as San Francisco, and New York City have. Our government must stop providing foreign aid to governments, such as Mexico, whose economy virtually forces their citizens to flee, because of internal corruption.
Immediately form a Blue Ribbon Committee to present a realistic Immigration Bill for Congressional consideration. Reduce bi-lingual teaching in our federally supported schools (perhaps only K-2nd grade). English should NOT be taught as a second language! English should be strictly enforced as our official language, but this should not suppress educational options to learn other languages. It is crazy to be teaching elementary school children in Los Angeles in more than twenty different languages.
Illegal immigration is totally destroying our Social Security system, and illegal immigrants must not be permitted to benefit until they are accepted as legal residents. Just look at what illegal immigration has done to border states, especially California. We need a fair immigration policy free of political and judicial injustice.
I recognize that my proposals may be harsh, but we must get a handle on this grievous problem ASAP, and we must start somewhere. While many of our politicians are thriving on the backs of illegal immigrants, we cannot continue to financially support individuals who break our laws. Objectively it is now simply an issue of THEM or US, and we cannot permit our American way of life to be destroyed or jeopardized by interlopers, criminals or welfare slackers. Continuing our current permissive immigration policy is a slap in the face to every citizen who waited in line to enter the USA legally.
The expense of illegal immigration is unsustainable. The gravy train must stop soon, but it is up to you and me to act forcibly with questions to our elected Representative and Senators. Think about writing a letter to your elected federal officials on the subject, I have. If we do not tell them what we think, they will continue in their errant, self-serving ways. At least when you let them know what you are thinking, the voice of your vote becomes louder.