I don’t understand the immigration debate/issue. It seems to me in a world of issues that come in so many shades of gray, this one is clearly black and white (no, not a racist remark). The way I see it, immigration is actually two issues:
1) National security. The first and most important thing in national security is securing the borders. That means patrolling it with such forces as the coast guard, border patrols, etc. For the most part, this should be sufficient. In parts of the border where patrolling isn’t enough of a deterrent to illegal border crossing, building walls, fences, etc. should be employed. That way, we can track the comings of anyone across the border.
This doesn’t mean of course that we don’t want people crossing the border. We just want to know who, when, where, etc. plus have control so if there is someone crossing we don’t want to (ie. drug lords, murderers, terrorists, etc.) we can actually stop them.
2) Immigration itself. From everything I can glean from the debate as it stands today, nobody is saying we don’t want people coming here. Sure, Republicans stress they don’t want them coming illegally, and Democrats call them racists for it (something I really, really don’t understand), but no one is saying they shouldn’t be here, just that they shouldn’t be here illegally.
Immigration reform then presents really only two problems. First, those that are already here illegally. What do we do with them? Do we simply give them amnesty, thereby supposedly rewarding bad (and illegal) behavior? Do we throw them out but let them come back legally somehow? Do we “send them to the back of the line” but put them on a path to legal status?
Second, what to do about actual immigration laws. I’m no legal expert, but I’d say here is where we need to do the most work (aside from securing the borders). We obviously need a sane and reasonable set of immigration laws. These may include such things as quotas (though I doubt we care that much), or at least provisions for quotas in the future should we need them. They should include reasonable requirements that people can actually satisfy without having to marry a citizen, prove the marriage is anything but a legal maneuver, and manage not to have that spouse die for 5-10 years. The process should probably include provisions of legal, productive activity (or at least good faith efforts toward such), and swearing loyalty to the country. This really shouldn’t take more than a couple years to prove the person is law abiding, desiring to work, as loyal as the next guy, etc. Again, I don’t know how that law would work but we need it.
Back to the first issue. Given that our laws are insane right now (and broadly unenforced when it comes to Latinos coming from Mexico), I don’t think it’s right to punish those that have come here illegally, just for the sake of pretending to uphold the law. As Democrats are fond of pointing out, most of these are hard working, law abiding (except for the immigration thing) people who just want a better life. I don’t think granting some variety of an amnesty-like thing to these people is rewarding bad behavior. I’m in favor of it. Of course, “reform” can’t include only this, otherwise we’re left with the same problem, using the amnesty “solution” every 15-20 years.
If we secure our borders, discouraging illegal immigration, give those already here a path to citizenship (not just meaningless hurtles), and provide reasonable immigration laws that will encourage legal immigration, then we might just solve our problem once and for all. And as a benefit, we would stem the flow of drugs and drug related violence that’s swamping our southern border.
It doesn’t seem like such a complicated issue. I’m sure the exact wording of the law will need to be delicate, but I’m sure we can all agree on the principles, assuming of course we actually WANT to solve it (More on that later).
In short, we have a great house and people want in. Let’s just close the windows and open the doors!