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May 3, 2006

A Lifetime Without Illegals
The illegal immigrant movement must be credited for successfully setting the tone in the debate over our southern border and the influx it permits. It has brilliantly merged the concept of the rights of so-called “undocumented workers” with that of the value of immigrants to America. Somehow, Arizona’s border with Mexico has become comparable to Ellis Island, and Jose the lawnmower’s skills equivalent to that of Albert Einstein’s and Madeleine Albright’s.
The activists recently held a nationwide “Day Without Immigrants.” Interpreted objectively, this term, for all intents and purposes, is synonymous with a “Day Without Americans.” The United States has always been a country of immigrants, and rare is the American who cannot trace his roots back to a foreign country or a mixture of distant lands.
As such, the majority of Americans, conservatives and liberals, clearly support the concept of immigration for this and a variety of other reasons – a vibrant economy, national security, population growth, multiculturalism, affection, and so on. The “America is full” crowd is limited, but nevertheless presents the border jumping activists with the opportunity to frame the debate as they wish.
There are over 10 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and countless more pour in every day. This blatant violation of the integrity of the United States and of its soil is what pro-border security Americans are protesting, not, as the activists would have us believe, immigration itself. I would at any time join a demonstration akin to the “Day Without Immigrants” public relations stunt against those who oppose both closed borders and closed gates. By the same token, I would just as eagerly participate in a rally protesting illegal immigration. Unfortunately, this is not what the self-described “immigrant rights” activists are aiming for.
Somehow, however, those taking a stand for illegal behavior have managed to label the rest of the populace as anti-immigrant. Ironically, no one is hurt more by illegal immigration than legal immigrants, those standing in long lines at U.S. embassies around the world and those whose files are buried under colossal piles of documents in the offices of the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
My family and I waited for years before lucking out and getting accepted as legal immigrants to the United States. After years of worries and doubt, the process continued even as we lived as hard-working, tax-paying residents. Obstacles included further uncertainty, long lines, and an incompetent bureaucracy – it took longer than a decade to acquire full citizenship status. That said, we were the lucky ones.
A virtually limitless number of people around the world would do anything to be able to go through the unpleasant process we endured in order to live in America. According to a Pew Hispanic Center poll, 46% of Mexicans would immigrate to the United States if they could, and almost half of those would do so illegally. It is no secret that illegal immigrants have little difficulty sneaking through the border and continuing to live in the United States. What about the other half? Is the influx of illegals not hurting the number of lawful Mexican immigrants this country is willing to absorb?
It would have been fairer, smarter, safer, and more beneficial if instead of allowing millions of law-breaking individuals to enter the country, we welcomed additional millions of law-abiding Mexicans through the gates. The benefits are obvious: we can certainly be more selective in deciding who we want to come into our country, we can make sure that drugs, weapons, and criminals are stopped from crossing the border and we would have records for the people living in our neighborhoods, just like for the rest of the residents of the country. The best part is, we would still be allowing the same number of immigrants to come in, except we would be rewarding patience and merit, not criminality.
Unfortunately, it will be impossible to achieve this switch from illegal to legal immigration with the debate being framed by activist spinsters and empty rhetoric. Building a wall across the southern border has nothing to do with opposing immigration – in fact, it would be the best endorsement for deserving immigrants who are willing to play by the rules and abide by our laws. What these activists do not understand is that although America would not be able to survive a day without true immigrants, it would be blessed if granted a lifetime without illegals.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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