miércoles, julio 18, 2007

More on Immigration

We need immigrants, not new immigration law
Guest Column

Nick FicklingJuly 18, 2007
Changes to any immigration law are irrelevant because existing laws have never been truly enforced. Any new law would receive similar treatment and immigration problems would continue.Still, the debate rages: What to do about the continuing flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.? The political shenanigans are concerning, amusing and mind-boggling. Democrats and Republicans are equally messed up over this issue. They all agree that there is a problem, but few agree on the exact nature of the problem and even fewer agree on the best way to solve it.So what is the problem? By all accounts the U.S. economy is thriving, and there is little by way of unemployment. If anything we need more immigrants to keep the economy going. Some are concerned that illegal immigrants are illiterate and unskilled. An alternative take is that those with the guts and drive to sneak into the U.S. are probably the people who are needed.The U.S. is a large country and still has plenty of room to absorb a few million more immigrants before it begins to reach the population densities of much of the rest of the world. Space is not an issue.The birth rate among the settled “legal” population has been dropping. That appears likely to continue, given the apparent lemming-like shift to poorer health and lower fecundity that comes from late marriage, delayed childbearing, increased obesity and health issues that appear to be such a major consequence of the American Dream. With the demographic trough that will arise in the post-baby boomer years, we will need more workers to ensure that pensions and benefits can meet expectations.
It’s not the numbersThe increase in numbers does not appear to be the issue. But if it is not numbers, what is it?The problem, of course, is security. We must know precisely who is in the U.S. and what is being brought in and taken out. Although current laws are designed to give us that security information, they are being flouted and not enforced. When laws are not enforced, then the rule of law breaks down. Why fear a law that isn’t enforced? If people are seen to get away with crimes then the crime rate will go up. It is human nature.Why aren’t the laws being enforced? It cannot be because we do not care who enters the U.S. Clearly, Sept. 11 should have made learning who is coming and going our government’s top priority. Why has so little been done in the past six years?No doubt you can find reasons, such as:• Value to big business of low-cost illegal workers.• Influence of organized crime.• Fear of upsetting the Hispanic vote.• Fear of what 12 million new voters would do to the political landscape.• Corruption.So where to go from here? Strong leadership is needed. Leadership that:• Slams those who use fear-mongering to push their personal agendas.• Accepts the status quo and moves forward with the premise that those who are hardworking and honest are wanted here, and criminals are not.• Puts special interests and political expediency below national interest.The priority must be to establish a system that ensures we know who is already here, where they live and who is entering. That is easier said than done and can only happen with the cooperation of those who are here illegally, their employers and the 50 states. It will almost certainly require some sort of national ID card, the implementation of which will require compromise by those concerned about our civil liberties.Other suggestions include:• Opposing any guest-worker program. (Comment: Is rejecting from the outset something that might be essential for success a good idea?)• Increased funding for the U.S. Border Patrol and adding more federal agents. (Comment: Adding foot soldiers is a waste of time and money unless they are following clear laws and have the authority to enforce them.)• Enabling local law enforcement to protect citizens from illegal immigration. (Comment: The cost of this law enforcement will be more in some states than others. It will involve providing funding, as well as authority.)• Requiring foreign countries to quickly accept their citizens back. (Comment: The U.S. had better start developing better relations with the rest of the world.)• Denying “birthright citizenship” to newborn children of illegals. (Comment: This idea is typical emotive stuff that is completely impractical. I would ask which country such children are to be citizens of? Guantanamo Bay?)• Ending welfare benefits for illegal immigrants. (Comment: Maybe benefits should only be available to those registered with the government.)• Building a fence along the U.S. border. (Comment: Expensive and there will always be a way around, under or over.)• Prohibiting in-state education to the children of illegals. (Comment: Better to make it available to those registered.)• Requiring businesses to verify, via a computerized system, an employee’s Social Security number. (Comment: Makes sense.)• Enforcing laws that forbid localities from preventing police from reporting immigration information. (Comment: We must work together to enforce the law. Law enforcement must be allowed to work with the INS or nothing will change.)• Implementing a national exit/entry tracking system for all aliens (Comment: As mandated by the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.)• Enacting stiffer penalties for alien smugglers. (Comment: No brainer.) Nick Fickling is retired from the British military and lives in the Vail Valley. Send comments to editor@vailtrail.com.

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