Immigration: America First
"Immigration" is not a dinner table word. That is, it doesn't dominate casual conversation. Yet, it is on the edge of almost everyone's consciousness, particularly the estimated 11 million people who are here illegally. Interestingly, I haven't seen any statistics about where those illegal aliens actually live. For instance, how many in Gulfport? How many in St. Pete? How many in Florida? If we can't identify them then how do we know how many there are? Anyway, 11 million is the figure generally used. It will do. It's large enough to be of concern.
That concern has led to pending legislation, to be debated (hopefully) in the U.S. Senate, led by Florida's senator, Marco Rubio who has worked with a bi-partisan group of eight to craft a workable solution to the problem. Solutions run in some minds from total amnesty, opening the borders to all, to keeping them all out. The legislation doesn't come close to either extremes.
What it does do is focus on a path of citizenship for the 11 million, control of the borders, control of visas, and modernization of existing laws. That's a lot of room for maneuvering and politicking. So, let's be clear that not all the illegals (now referred to as undocumenteds) are hispanic - they reflect the entire world. Also an estimated 40 per cent didn't creep over the border. They simply overstayed their visas and have never been caught. And, don't even consider deporting 11 million people. It would be an impossible task and it isn't going to happen. So, here we are; and what to do?
For starters know that whatever legislation is passed and no matter how "feel good" it comes out, the real issue is enforcement. If, in the future as in the past, the borders aren't controlled and visas aren't monitored, the legislation is meaningless. There has to be a method and a will to achieve that. I'm pessimistic about the latter and not so optimistic about the former.
Where are the political rewards and the management skills to accomplish to accomplish the goals? Politicians rarely buck the special interests however relatively proportionally small the interests might be. That means enforcement will depend upon harsh and unforgiving majority public reaction to the politicians who don't do their duty. That kind of pressure is hard to sustain.
Nonetheless, the status quo isn't acceptable either. Trying is better than drifting. So, where should the emphasis be? Enforcement is a no-brainer, and politically the emphasis is on the "pathway to citizenship" for illegals (potential voters). The first I demand; the second, I suggest a lateral move. Make the emphasis on making it easier to attain a legal status in the United States and to attain citizenship for those we need and want. The process now is cumbersome, burdensome, and hopelessy bureaucratic, and without purpose.
Act in our own self interest. If we need laborers, provide a sufficient pathway for them, and keep track of them while they are here; if we need scientists and doctors, recruit for that. Most definitely discriminate on the basis of our need, their talent, and their character. Providing an easier path legally will make the illegal path less attractive providing there is adequate intelligent enforcement. Encourage assimilation. Speaking the language is critical. That defines a nation. Adopting the culture is equally important. We are a nation of immigrants, but the glue is Americanism. One nation not a polyglot of independent tribes.
I was born and spent the last 50 or so years in western Pennsylvania which, between the end of the Civil War and before WWII absorbed millions of immigrants primarily from Europe. They brought with them their language and their customs. Some of the languages are kept alive, and nearly all the cultures are preserved and celebrated. However, celebrated more is their Americanism. Ethnic divisions are still recognized, but as a political force have died out. Yes, we should speak of ourselves as a nation of immigrants, but always as Americans.
In the short and the long run it is America that comes first.