Different shades of gray
Each month the Sun Advocate presents two views of the same subject as columnists Terry Willis and Tom McCourt see it.
The levy that is our southern border has been breached and a flood of illegal aliens is pouring through. They are trespassers on the soil and sovereignty of our nation, and they come by the millions.
We don't know who these people are or what they bring with them. They bypass customs and legal checkpoints along the border. Do they carry weapons, drugs, diseases, or the seeds of anarchy and revolution? We have no idea. Most may be good, honest, and hard working people. But others are criminals, drug runners, and possible terrorists. It is important that we check these people out before we allow them into our neighborhoods.
For over 200 years we have welcomed people here from all over the world. But they have always been required to register with authorities and enter the country by a comprehensive legal process. Not every Irishman who wanted to immigrate to the U.S. was allowed to do so. Some were disqualified because of criminal backgrounds, communicable diseases, or ties to radical, subversive groups like the Irish Republican Army. We have every right to expect that same standard to be met by everyone who comes here.
There is not enough room in this column to address each of the illegal immigration issues one by one. I wish there were. Illegals may take jobs Americans don't want, and many of them pay taxes, but they also put a terrible strain on our schools, hospitals, law enforcement, and social service infrastructure. An estimated 40 percent of them are on welfare. Governors of some border states are actually suing the federal government in an attempt to recover tax money spent to deal with the flood of illegals. A full 30 percent of our prison population are not American citizens.
It is estimated that 12 million illegals have entered this county from Mexico since Ronald Reagan granted the first amnesty in 1986. If that is true, it equals a full 10 percent of the population of Mexico. To allow this to continue is insanity.
The solution to the problem is simple. We must enforce our laws. It is illegal for employers to hire undocumented aliens. It is illegal for anyone to cross our borders without due process of the law. It is illegal to harbor and give aid and comfort to anyone who knowingly violates our laws. Illegals are supposed to be deported.
But sadly, our politicians are gutless worms. For 30 years both political parties have turned a blind eye to the problem and pandered to the wealthy businessmen who hire the illegals. They are afraid of being branded as bigots if they seal the border. They are afraid of losing political contributions if they offend the wealthy business owners. They are afraid of losing the Latino vote if they do anything at all.
And so they posture and point fingers. They thump their chests and make eloquent speeches. They play to both sides of the issue and do nothing but offer amnesty a second time. Will there be a third and fourth amnesty in the years to come? Our leaders betray us by not fixing this problem. The rascals don't deserve our votes.
I sympathize with the people of Mexico in their economic troubles. I understand why they want to come here. I know that most of them are good, hard working, and God-fearing people. But having said that, I also know that we must seal our borders and stop this madness. The flood of illegals is damaging the economic and social fiber of our country, and the world we live in is too dangerous to allow it to continue.
It has been eye opening to watch the marches and debates about the illegal immigration problems that have come to a head in the past several weeks. Houston (and Phoenix and Salt Lake City etc.) we have a problem. The protests gave us a very visual idea of how large of a problem it is.
Early in the establishment of our country, we flooded the shores, unchecked, and took over land that had been occupied by others. It is what our country is founded on. Later on we established rules to make sure that certain people had an easier time entering than others. Rules were eased and tightened depending on our relationship with different countries and the need for people to do jobs that the rest of us didn't want to do.
Carbon County was populated by groups that the mine owners brought in to go underground and do the dangerous and hard work. When one group of immigrants had enough and tried to strike to facilitate change another group from a country that disliked the prior group was brought in. The miners were kept segregated and not allowed to assimilate into the population.
Let's not forget about the Chinese and the railroad. We only allowed Chinese into the country in small controlled groups to work on the construction of our rail system. We spat on them and treated those workers as less than second class anything.
So, we have a history of wanting others to come in and work as cheap unregulated labor in this country. The history of people coming across our borders has just scared us more since the war on terrorism. It is easy to try and put the blame on the immigration problem on the backs of employers and congress. But you and I need to step up and decide what we really want from our economy and our human rights agenda.
When Kathy Lee Gifford was exposed as buying from a manufacture that used exploited labor to make her clothes, we boycotted her line for a while. We bought other peoples cheap clothes. We have not organized boycotts of businesses that exploit the illegal workers in this country. We snap up the deals on fresh produce and other products and pat ourselves on the back that we live in a country where food is plentiful and cheap.
We have opposed treaties like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) because we don't want companies shipping "our" jobs across the border. I agree that Mexico needs to step up to the plate as well, but we can't turn our backs and lock our doors at this stage of the game without creating a bigger, more global crisis.
Some form of border control needs to be put in place. The ease of entering the northern U.S. border is scarier. Some of our worst terrorist threats have entered across the Canadian border. Making someone who is in our country illegally a felon will not make us any safer. Over crowding of jails and lack of resources will continue to assure that unless someone commits a bad crime authorities will continue to turn their heads. Criminal should be dealt with. Criminals should be deported.
We also need to be prepared for shortages of certain products and goods as well as rising cost as we crack down on employers who hire illegal workers. We also need to really think through the cost to our country if we decide to try and send everyone who is here and working, back to Mexico. Our social fiber has already changed. We are still a great melting pot.
We are not on the verge of destruction because of this problem, we are just at a crossroads. Let us find the solution that says to the world that we are the beacon of hope. This is a human rights issue and we need to put our money where our mouth is and deal with it as an example to the world.