One of the top issues on voter’s minds going into the 2016 Presidential election is illegal immigration. Our fluid borders have resulted in a current population of approximately 11 million unauthorized immigrants, half of whom are from Mexico, and 60 percent of whom are located in Texas, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois.
The Republican candidates differ in their approach to the resolution of the situation, with Donald Trump being the most outspoken on the subject. His plan is to build a wall to protect our southern borders, (which he says Mexico will pay for) and to deport these 11 million illegals, with the disclaimer that they can reenter the country again, legally. The media has vilified him for his harsh approach, and for the hateful rhetoric he has used to describe the Mexican illegals.
The other GOP candidates vary in their solution to the problem, but all of them concur that we need to secure our borders for the safety of our country. They are correct. We live in an age where there are too many people of various nationalities that wish to do us harm. Our current immigration problem is not just an economic issue; it is a threat to the security and future of the United States, as we know it. Just as we cannot enter Mexico, or any other sovereign country for that matter, illegally, and expect to be welcomed with open arms, we cannot throw open the floodgates to anyone and everyone who crosses the threshold of our country; it simply is not in the best interest of our national security, or the safety of our citizens.
On the other hand, we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that we can gather up 11 million men, women and children, and throw them on a bus and run them across the border. It would be an organizational nightmare, and would most likely result in heavy casualties. We also have to remember that these illegal immigrants make up about 5 percent of the labor force in this country, and that 7 percent of students in grades K-12, have at least one parent that is an unauthorized immigrant, so we are talking about economic repercussions and about destroying families. I know they are breaking the law, and that must be addressed, but we are complicit in them being here in the first place. If we had practiced due diligence in protecting our borders, we would not be dealing with this issue to the extent that we are.
I cannot begin to fathom the solution to this problem, or the most humane way of dealing with those who are currently residing in the United States illegally, many of whom are good people who just want a better life for themselves and their families. What I do know is we have a moral responsibility to put ourselves in the position of these people and ask ourselves what we might do if like them, we were unfortunate enough to be born in a country permeated with violence like Mexico, or other areas of Central and South America. How many of us would not seek every avenue to escape the constant threat of danger to our children that these people have lived under for years? We have to approach the solution with both prudence and compassion.
Frankly, there is no simple solution, and lest we forget, we are a country of immigrants. We are all descendants of people who were fleeing oppression. Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” I do feel strongly that people who seek refuge in the United States must be prepared to learn English, and to pay taxes. If their desire is to become a citizen of this country, and thus entitled to all the freedoms and benefits that we enjoy, then they should also be willing to adhere to the laws that we have determined ensure a just society. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.” I agree.
I am not personally convinced that building a wall is the answer, but then I am not familiar with the topography of our southern border, or with the logistics of constructing a 2000-mile barrier. I guess I am in favor of starting with a more simple approach like Ted Nugent’s idea of letting the Border Patrol “patrol the border” and the National Guard, “guard the nation”, but then maybe these are too simplistic. I just think that with all the technological advances in surveillance equipment, the intelligence information we have access to, and with over 20,000 border patrol agents we should be able to tighten the reins a bit.
The most important and most urgent action we have to take right now is to secure our border, in whatever manner is determined to be the most effective. We give a tremendous amount of foreign aid to Mexico every year; in 2013, we gave them over 51 million dollars. I think we should begin to deduct a minimum of $20,000 from that amount for every one of their citizens who enters the United States illegally; that should give them some incentive to help stem the flow.
We also have to develop a more efficient path to citizenship, one that does not take 15 or 20 years. We need to revamp the work visa program and green cards, or we need to issue some other type of temporary visa, and monitor the recipients with an entry and exit program. There are always going to be people who want to come to the United States, so this will be an ongoing issue, just as it always has been. We have to devise a way of running background checks, and documenting everyone who enters the country. Fifty years ago, we were sending men to the moon; surely, we have the ingenuity to repair our broken immigration system.