Amnesty vs. Reality: Left of Center View
The current immigration debate going on in our Nationís capital is just another exercise in futility. It doesnít matter how many laws are passed, or what regulations are put into place, the fact is that people will always try and find a better life for themselves and their families. As long as the focus is solely on the individual the solution will elude us. The only way we will ever break the cycle of offering up amnesty every decade is to finally address the real issues surrounding immigration and not just the political poster bullet points.
Life in most of the third world sucks. People live in desperate poverty, enduring conditions daily that Sally Struthers couldnít bear to televise. No matter what restrictions or obstacles you put in place, these people will endure and face them simply because it is better than where they came from. This is not a uniquely American phenomenon either, even countries like Mexico are experiencing floods of immigrants, hoping to escape into a better life.
This is not to imply that all of these people are our responsibility. Trying to be the worldís police force has gotten the U.S. into enough trouble already, we donít need to make things worse. Of course we should have compassion for those less fortunate, but that is a global responsibility, not a national one. So why point this out? Why show starving children and classrooms made out of cardboard? To illustrate the point that no amount of legislation will deter the tide of immigrants.
Illegal immigration will continue as long as there are people willing to hire illegal immigrants. The people who really profit from this system are the employers. They grossly underpay their workers, offer no benefits and almost all labor disputes can be resolved with a threat of deportation, and still they come and line up for the chance to be exploited, and all because for many it is still better than where they came from.
This practice is killing our economy. Citizens and legal residents are forced to take lower wages and the always under-funded social services are being required to do even more with even less. So, the only one who really benefits from this scenario is the employer, who gets away with below market wages and since it is all illegal and off the books, doesnít have to contribute to any of the government services.
The only way to end illegal immigration is to go after the party with the most to loose. Not just corporations either, but the individuals who hire undocumented workers should be subject to significant fines, fifty or a hundred times what they are now, with jail time or deportation for repeat offenders. Make hiring undocumented workers, even as part-time domestic help a $10,000 minimum fine and saving $20 a week isnít worth the risk. Offer, 10% to the person who reports the infraction and put the rest into social services in the community from which it was collected. If this issue is to be taken seriously and resolved then the laws must be enforced on both sides of the fence.
Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column.
Last Week's View from the Left: Defining Immigration
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Amnesty: Right of Center View
What is amnesty? By one definition, amnesty is being given immunity from prosecution for committing a crime. Amnesty could also be defined as being allowed to break a law without facing the full penalty for the crime. In the case of illegal immigration, the second definition is more relevant to the debate currently underway in Congress.
Some within Congress feel that it would be equivalent to amnesty to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants under any circumstances. While I donít go quite that far, I do think that they are not far off the mark. The problem with granting citizenship to people that came here illegally is that it says to would-be illegal immigrants; ďIf you break our laws and get away with it long enough, you will get citizenship without more than a slap on the wrist for putting yourself above our laws.Ē
Make no mistake, when anyone comes into our nation illegally or overstays their visa; they have put their interests ahead of our laws. They have said that one section of our laws doesnít apply to them and that they know better than the people of America do what our immigration policy should be. Iím sure that some will argue extenuating circumstances but regardless of the reasoning for it, they have put themselves ahead of our laws and of every legal immigrant who goes through the proper process to become a citizen. Just because a fact is inconvenient to your point of view does not make it any less of a fact. By all objective standards, they have broken the law and they have done so by their own decision and therefore there can be no reasonable argument that negates that fact.
So, what should the standard be for granting citizenship to illegal immigrants? My argument would be that there should be no complete amnesty. Any of these immigrants should be held to the highest of standards if they are to be granted legal status. We should not be lowering our standards but rather raising them for anyone that would be a part of our society. We have plenty of negative elements in the country and have no need of any more. Anyone who seeks citizenship should:
1: Be subject to a full criminal background check here and abroad. (If they donít pass, they donít stay.)
2: Be required to learn English and demonstrate proficiency prior to any consideration of citizenship.
3: Be required to sign an agreement stating that they will not send funds out of the United States in excess of $5,000 per year per household or face deportation.
4: Be required to serve their nation prior to being granted citizenship.
5: Be subject to paying fines and back taxes.
6: Be ineligible for General Assistance programs of any kind including AFDC for at least ten years after being granted residency status. (We do not need to import more people draining the economy of needed funds. If the lately very vocal Catholic Church wants to advocate for their presence perhaps they will foot the bill if they canít pay their bills.)
7: Be required to be employed full time with proof of ability to maintain a residence.
8: Be required to limit the number of children they can have based on income or face deportation. (Bringing more children into the nation than they can reasonably support causes further drains on social services and is not a healthy environment for the children to be raised in.)
9: Be limited to resident alien status for no less than five years prior to being granted citizenship regardless of how long they have previously been in the U.S.
10: Face deportation even after the granting of citizenship if convicted of a felony.
11: Not be allowed to marry someone outside of the U.S. as a consideration for that personís citizenship.
12: Not be allowed to sponsor additional citizen applications for at least fifteen years after being granted U.S. citizenship.
13: Be required to undergo citizenship process for any children born in the U.S. prior to their legal status being established. (If they have teenage children that have been in gangs or convicted of crimes, those children may nullify their eligibility for legal status.)
14: Be required to pass basic educational proficiency exams if they have children of school age and demonstrate that the children are being taught to speak English.
15: Face immediate incarceration, seizure of assets and deportation if found to be aiding or housing other illegal immigrants at any time after being granted legal residency status unless sharing a home with other immigrants with cases pending for residency status.
Iím sure that people will look at some of these as being overly harsh but the thing I return to is that they broke our laws to come here and there has to be a penalty for that. There also has to be some question of their ethics and closer scrutiny of their actions. If they are willing to break one law, they may be willing to break others and simply disregarding the fact that they broke a law because we donít think that law is ďfairĒ is irresponsible. Many laws are not fair yet they exist and have to be followed to avoid prosecution. Vagrancy laws are not ďfairĒ to homeless people but they exist and are enforced. Federal marijuana laws are not ďfairĒ to medical marijuana users but they are nonetheless enforced. The point being, we donít get to pick and choose which laws we follow and which we donít without circumstance. Illegal immigrants made a choice to break our laws and there should be some consequence for it. We donít retroactively give tax breaks to Americans when the tax laws change. People that owed the tax prior to the law change still have to pay any of that tax that they owe or they will be prosecuted for tax evasion. Even if we change the laws today, those who broke them previously need to face a consequence because they broke the law.
As for the argument that these things I propose are harsher than laws governing legal immigrants, youíre right they are and I believe they should be. When you break the law you give up some of your rights. They shouldnít get all the same privileges as other immigrants because they did not do it the right way. Accountability needs to be in any legislation to reform immigration. If people are not willing to pay some consequence after breaking our laws because they feel entitled to some ďrightĒ to be here, they should be looking over their shoulders and fearing the knock at the door. Nothing is free and U.S. citizenship is a privilege for people to be granted not a right granted by virtue of oneís ability to get over the fence and hide out for a while.
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column.
Last Week's View from the Right: Defining Immigration