When people in other countries dream of a better life for them and their families, it is America to which their dreams turn.
There are no hordes of protesters marching in the streets of Moscow, Beijing, Paris, Tokyo or Mexico City hoping to ease their process of becoming citizens in Russia, China, France, Japan or Mexico.
As Neil Diamond famously sang: “They’re comin’ to America!”
For all the negative blather you hear about America from our own liberal press, the foreign press, and the many citizens of foreign nations interviewed on those broadcasts and in their articles, it is America to which they come to escape oppression and infuse hope into their lives.
In our past, we have been an immigration nation. We were born and nurtured through our earliest years as a nation as immigrants from England to a new set of colonies and then a new free country, on what is now the American east coast.
We grew and thrived, spreading across the land from east to west, thanks in large part to massive immigration from other European nations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
We are an immigration nation at our very core. That is our heart and soul, the accumulated values and experiences of our individual forefathers and our families’ ethnic and racial heritage, combined with the melding into American customs, laws and values that have formed over the centuries.
As America has a heart and soul formed from its people, those many home-born and immigrant citizens, it also has a body. A very real and distinguishable body.
Setting aside Alaska and Hawaii, which pose their own individual circumstances, the recognized body of America is the contiguous forty-eight states, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and sharing a common border to the north with Canada and the south with Mexico.
For the better part of America’s life as a nation, we have done little of substance to control our intake of immigrants in number, little to ensure the continued quality of immigrants in maintaining basic assimilation qualifications, and little to control and secure those two massive borders.
The America of today has become fat and bloated due to laziness and a general lack of will power.
America has become the fat, balding, middle-aged man who wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, doesn’t like what he sees and says “Houston, we have a problem.”
Truth is, we have had this problem, or at least the root causes of the current problems, for the entirety of our existence. We have never properly organized American immigration policy, and we have never properly secured our borders. Not under Republican administration, or Democratic administrations. Not even under Whig administrations.
In times of war and in times of peace, in times of prosperity or times of despair. In all our combined national life, we have not addressed these issues, putting them off for another day.
That “another day” is upon us. The time to make real change is here, now. We are at a critical turning point in American history, and the decisions that we make in the next few months and years on the issues of border security and immigration reform will affect America’s very continued existence as a nation, certainly as an identifiable society.
There are many sides to the immigration issue. First, there are literally hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants living and working in the United States today. Right now, as I type out this article, right now as you read it. It is reality, and it is a massive number that has become uncontrollable. And the problem gets larger and worse for every day that we do nothing to change.
There are many sides to the border issue. Thousands stream across the border with Mexico every single day. Some are Mexican citizens, and citizens of other South American countries, coming to seek a better life for their family. Some are simply seeking to milk our system for handouts.
Some, frankly, are terrorists seeking an easy way into our country, and then plotting to attack us from the inside when the time is right. That is reality as well, and the problem gets larger and worse for every day that we do nothing to change.
My proposals are many, large-scale, and expensive. They require construction, security, manpower, enforcement, follow-up and most of all willpower. They would require full documentation of every single illegal currently in the country, full control and security of our borders, and the ability to easily track and follow-up on every non-citizen that enters those borders.
First, I propose that we undertake two programs simultaneously, addressing each particular issue. Quick planning and construction of a full 2,000 mile barrier along our southern border with Mexico, and the immediate amnesty to all illegals currently in the country combined with their documentation and adherence to new procedures.
Let’s start with the border, because the failure of any nation to properly secure its borders is simply bordering on the insane.
Plans are already available that are feasible. Educated folks who have lived with the border issues in California, Arizona and Texas have already been down this road. Perhaps the best is a proposal for a full wall in many places, enhanced with fencing, ditches, security cameras, increased numbers of border patrol agents, and unmanned surveillance vehicles.
This plan, or one like it, should be approved in the next few months, adopted as necessary by serious leaders of both parties, and then fully constructed within the next few years. This is a goal that can easily be met with a full government commitment. It already has the support of a large majority of American citizens.
While the American Southern Border Project is underway, every resource possible should be in place to support the security of the border and of the construction project itself. Large increases in border patrol agents, modernization of the equipment they use, public and spirited support for entities such as the volunteer Minuteman Project. We can do a great deal more as the Southern Border is being constructed than we are today.
With the border better secured, we are at the same time getting our illegal immigration situation under control. Let’s not kid ourselves, or allow the liberal press to deflect our sensibilities away from the reality that there are two words involved here. Not just the word immigration, but also the word “illegal”.
It is a fact, the United States of America has laws regarding immigration, and these people have purposely and willfully broken those laws.
It is also a fact that the massive arrest, or deportation, or some combination involving hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants is an impossible situation to enforce effectively. What is needed is a system of amnesty, combined with penalties and enforcement measures.
In my proposal, amnesty does not mean outright forgiveness, citizenship, and a hearty “welcome to America”. I propose that we set a time limit, possibly by the end of calendar year 2006 for example. By the end of this time, every single individual in this country who is not a citizen and is not here by some other legal immigration measure must register with an agency to establish their legalization status.
This proposal would mean either creation of an agency to handle this registration, or the expansion of existing immigration personnel and systems. Individuals who register, supply valid proof of their identities, and agree to fully conform with American law into the future would be granted temporary guest worker status, and could get into line for full American citizenship, if that is what they ultimately wish to accomplish.
Any individual who can not properly document their identity to the satisfaction of immigration authorities would be deported, as would, of course, any individual who did not wish to conform to American laws.
Any individual after the cutoff date who is found to be illegal would be deported. Any repeat violators into the future would be charged and imprisoned here in America.
In family situations, the law needs to be changed to reflect that individuals born here to at least one American citizen parent are considered citizens, but that individuals born into a situation where neither parent is a legal American citizen are not granted citizenship.
In family situations, if the parents cannot or will not fulfill the requirements of the new amnesty program, then the entire family will be deported.
The United States of America did not create the problems of the world, and did not create the problems of every individual family, whether citizen or illegal immigrant. The United States government, and thus its tax-paying citizens, cannot be expected to support the bad, improper, illegal or irresponsible decisions of individuals and families within its borders and around the world.
What America does need to do is establish to the best extent possible an example of responsibility, and to setup a framework under which the exercise of that responsible citizenship can be affected.
Into the future, America also needs to educate the business community that the hiring of illegal workers will not be tolerated, and will result in massive fines and penalties against offending employers. This can be accomplished through spot checks and audits by government agencies already in existence.
In 1986, during the conservative Reagan administration, the country passed immigration reform laws that included amnesty programs, as well as sanctions against businesses that continued to employ and support illegals.
These measures proved to be of no value, as business owners then accepted flimsy, incomplete or outright fraudulent paperwork from their employers as proof of citizenship status and identification. There must be simple guidelines this time around that are easy to follow for any business owner, accompanied by strict penalties for non-compliance.
The bottom line is that we must identify every individual currently in the country illegally, give them an opportunity to come clean and get with the program, give business an opportunity to come clean and get on the right track, and effect harsh measures against any individual or business who then disregards these controls into the future.
As we move forward, America needs to make some real changes in our educational system. We need to finally establish, once and for all, that English is the official language of the United States of America, and must see to it that it is effectively taught to every school child across the country. The learning of practical, effective English should be one of the requirements for every single applicant for American citizenship.
Also, we need to more effectively and aggressively teach American history, civics, and law in our public school classrooms. The cultural rainbow that has been taught over the past few decades is fine, on an elective basis, and as a general minor part of any curriculum. But the support through the educational system of a solid American culture, formed over the century’s right here on our shores, needs to be first and foremost.
The failure over our nation’s history to properly secure our borders and the failure to come up with a workable, sustainable immigration policy go hand-in-hand in undermining long-term American values and society. They also contribute to violations of our national security in a time of war, when any number of enemies of our way of life has directly threatened us with annihilation.
America needs to move immediately to fully secure our borders, to fully document every non-citizen, and to require those who wish to join our American family to do so in an orderly and legal fashion. Only in this way can we secure the very benefits that these illegals come to America to obtain: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.