Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Immigration Debate

One of the main issues in the current presidential election is “immigration.” We need to understand this issue because there have been some misleading statements made on the subject. I’ve written on immigration before but it deserves another post since it is so prominent in this election.

Defining “Immigration”

As with most issues, there is a significant difference between conservatives and liberals. Liberals define the issue in terms of all immigration, not making the important distinction between legal and illegal entry into the country. In their rhetoric they imply that conservatives want to stop all immigration into the US. Conservatives say they have no problem with legal immigration (those who go through the process) but believe illegal (undocumented) immigration must be stopped. They are not anti-immigrant, just against people sneaking across our borders.

A Place of Refuge

Most immigrants, both legal and undocumented, come to the US for a better life. Some come to the US so their children will have a better life, even if theirs isn’t so good. Others come to the US to escape violence, persecution, and crime. We’ve seen that happening in Europe, where thousands of refugees are streaming into Europe from war-torn Syria.

Certainly you feel sorry for those escaping tyranny, yet you have to ask, “How many more people can this country accommodate?” We can’t take in everybody who is at risk, much as we’d like to help them. We already have underemployment. With jobs being sent overseas, where are these immigrants going to work?

Security Concerns

Having such porous borders is a security issue as well. With terrorists wanting to do us harm, shouldn’t we cut off any paths through which the bad guys can enter the country? We think primarily of Mexicans and Central Americans entering the country illegally, but other nationalities enter as well. Another aspect of the security concern is the cross-border drug trade. Drug cartels are flooding the US with drugs. Unfortunately there’s a big demand for these drugs, but if they weren’t so readily available, demand might diminish considerably.

Medical, Schooling, Other Services

Waves of illegal immigrants can put a strain on social services, such as health care and schooling. Since some of these illegals are paid “under the table” they pay no taxes while still using social services. As a civilized society we can’t deny these services to anybody living within our borders, but we can reduce the number of people entering the country.

Path to Citizenship

Since there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living within the US, we should do something for them so they are no longer living as fugitives. For the most part they are hard- working, responsible people who often do jobs nobody else wants to do: farm workers, day laborers, etc. We aren’t rewarding bad behavior if we provide a path to citizenship, just dealing with the reality of the situation and trying to do the humane thing.

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