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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Thoughts on Illegal Immigration

The process of getting into graduate school is a lengthy and onerous one. An ideal candidate has the perfect combination of stratospheric test scores, an exceptional G.P.A, phenomenal research abilities, and outstanding letters of recommendation. The process is far from ideal because universities turn down otherwise great applicants on the basis of test scores or failing to meet some arbitrary criteria. So what if someone applies and isn’t accepted into a graduate program? Or even better, what if a person concludes that because the application process is so demanding they are going to forgo it entirely? What should such a person do? I say pack their bags, head down to the university and attend the school anyway, even if the school never granted him admittance, even if he never applied. Everyone has a right to education, right? To not grant someone education appears discriminatory and we certainly can’t have that! And after the person enters the classroom without having applied or without admittance and they work really hard we should just automatically forgive their transgression and award them their degree. Sounds logical, right?

The above argument is absurd, but that’s exactly the line of thinking that some people employ to defend illegal immigration. The process of legally immigrating to the US is unfair, in that the United States gives preferential citizenship to persons of certain groups. The process is also lengthy and full of red-tape. Yes I have major criticisms of the process, just as I have valid criticisms of the graduate school application procedures, BUT I do understand that in a civilized society we have laws with the explicit expectation that those laws need to be obeyed; so when people break those laws there have to be consequences in order to maintain order. On the same token, I understand that many people who come to the US illegally do so because of oppressive situations and economic ruin in their own countries. Should not all people have access to freedom? Yes, but legally of course. Should not I have access to higher education that would solidify my future and provide greater job security? Yes, but only after I’ve followed the rules, gone through the application process and the university formally accepts me. Just as I should be kicked out and forced to drive back to Baltimore if I went down to Duke University and started taking classes as if I were student there, a person who comes here illegally and masquerades as a citizen should have to face consequences as well. In both examples a person is expecting to be treated like a student/citizen without having become one.

So let’s say that I succeed in driving down to Duke, and entering classes, and completing assignments, and lets say I do well in those classes (this is assuming I’m not thrown out of course) should the university award me the PhD even though I entered the university against their regulations? Most people would say no. But when some folk consider illegal immigration, they want to grant amnesty to those who have committed a wrong. How can we justifiably grant amnesty to over 11 MILLION people who live here and work here illegally? Sure illegal aliens want freedom (right thing), but they are going about it the wrong way. In my book doing the wrong thing for the right reason, is still wrong.

No, I’m not one of those hardnosed republicans. I can only describe my political views of late as “moderately liberal”, however my views on illegal immigration probably mesh better with those of the right wing than those of the left. Yet, while I adamantly disagree with Barack Obama’s stance that we pull out the welcome mat and give illegal aliens all drivers’ licenses, I don’t think that immigrations laws should be so punitive that they punish church workers and clergy who try to provide relief to illegal immigrants in need. Thus I realize that some bills like the harsh H.R. 4437 seem downright inhumane, while bills like Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act seem to encourage the thing it’s trying to deal with (and hopefully eliminate): illegal immigration. To use a little hyperbole, on the one hand the Senates comprehensive immigration plan is so soft it practically screams "come into this country illegally and we will reward your efforts. Thanks for breaking in!" On the other hand the HR4437 says come into this country illegally and we’ll hunt you down and shoot you and anyone associate with you, scumbag!" I think we need a happy medium between the two extremes.

Let’s first consider the preventive approach to the problem. First we want to deter people from coming into the country illegally. The best way to do that is to have tougher boarder patrol. Ports with the highest number of illegal boarder crossings need better security. In an age where terrorism continues to threaten this country, we desperately need to patrol our entry points if only to discourage those who wish to do harm to our people. In a post-911 society why is it so easy to come into the United States in the first place? This presents a significant security issue. Secondly, we need to make it easier for those who enter into this country in order to seek refuge to obtain a legal status. This means that we need to revamp our current (very discriminatory) immigration policy. After all, if we look back into this country’s history wasn’t America established by immigrants who sought basic liberties and religious freedoms? Thirdly, we need to set up consequences for those who come here illegally (but not until we address points one and two) and yes one of those consequences might include deportation, especially if the person has a criminal background or comes here and involves himself in criminal activity. We have more than enough American citizens engaged in crime, we really don’t need any additional help on that front.

So what should we do to deal with the 11 million people we already have here illegally? Should we grant automatic citizenship to those who have been here for over a certain period of time and send the rest packing? These are the controversial questions that the next president must address. I think we should deal with these issues on a case by case basis, but unfortunately it’s hard to do that with millions of people. Perhaps those who have come here, kept all of our laws, established families, and contributed positively to society should have the opportunity to obtain legal citizenship AFTER they have gone through a vigorous process, which would include gaining proficiency in the English language. Unfortunately, if we implement my ideas, some people will inevitably face deportation, and at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing.


Grata said...


Ah! The quagmire that is illeggal immigration. Your proposal is realistic I think. But we should not forget that it is in the interest of the capitalist system for things to remain the way they are. Those that get hurt in America by illegal immigration are the lower classes that see their wasges reduced or diminished. Do the people people at the top care? I doubt it.

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