Sunday, 17th February 2013
DRAWING A LINE AT THE BORDER – U.S Immigration reform is once again in the spotlight as President Obama tries to provide an answer to the ever growing alien population in the United States. Conservatives and Liberals are split on solutions to the issue, with neither holding to their party’s official standing, but each seeking a plan that will be carried out and enforced.
Take the case of Festus Cohill, pictured above. He emigrated from Ireland 47 years ago and has earned many titles during his time in the United States: Vietnam War veteran, cancer survivor, bartender, and twice a fiancé, though never a husband. Now at the age of 64, he has become a United States citizen. Other countries are still sending their young people here, I know of a brother and sister from China who were sent here by their parents to attend college, in hopes they would be able to have a better life. I cannot imagine the agonizing hours it took to be able to make that decision.
Our country was founded and built on the backs of immigrants, with their love of family, desire for freedom and strong work ethics. No other country in the world can make such a statement. We are unique in that we are a blend of many cultures and ideas that together create a land that any foreigner can visit and feel at home. Immigrants coming to America continue to make vital contributions towards our country. Many foreigners enter on work or student visas and decide to stay here, working off their loans and using the skills and education they acquired. Some join our military, fight alongside our native born sons and daughters and during their time of service, are encouraged and helped to become American citizens. Others simply live and work here, not calling attention to the fact that they still hold citizenship to the country where they were born. They are good neighbors and friends who contribute to the working of society in a positive way.
With a great deal of agricultural work available, we see many Mexican workers on temporary visas here in the North. They work hard, get paid minimum wage with no benefits, and often send those wages back home to their families. It is not uncommon to see 6-10 workers sharing one small efficiency apartment in order to save resources. These men and women are not taking jobs away from any U.S. citizen because most of the untrained labor force here would rather be on welfare than do a day’s work, especially for minimum wage. The benefit of living off the government makes life much easier than sweating in the sun and taking orders from a boss
Immigrants enter the United States after applying for a work or student visa. There are guidelines, requirements and accountability for them once they are accepted and allowed to enter the country. They have a temporary residence.
Illegal immigrants sneak into the country and are here because they are both running away from and running to something. They did not file paperwork, did not have permission to enter our country and are here illegally. They often take jobs that do not require scrutiny, such as housekeeping and field work.
Do you see there is a difference between immigrants and illegal immigrants? The President is addressing the issue of illegal immigrants.
In many southern states, the numbers of illegal immigrants are so great they are over running the schools, hospitals and housing, stretching resources beyond capacity and creating a drain on government programs they are not be entitled to receive, but do simply because we have not set laws in place restricting access.
Illegal means not legal. Not entitled. Not allowed to pursue a job, medical care or an education. Go through the correct channels, meet the requirements and when you are accepted you will be welcomed and helped along the way to a future you can be proud of. When you come in the back door, you are in constant fear of being sent back, and are open to being intimidated and abused by those seeking to exploit you because of your circumstances.
In his reform proposal President Obama called for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who pass background checks, pay taxes, learn English and stand at “the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.” I’d also like to see those illegal aliens who are already being productive and hard-working citizens acknowledged as such and given the opportunity to become U.S. citizens. All others and any who refuse the offer should be deported.
No matter what action is taken, one critical issue that needs to be addressed is stemming the flow of further illegal immigrants from crossing over the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Illegal border crossings have been a constant cause of concern for residents living in the cities that butt against the border. Those illegally crossing the border are not always headed here for a better life. There are those who are coming to escape from the law of Mexico; they are criminals and are dangerous.
Securing our borders has been an issue for over 40 years and with the construction of the border wall, there was a glimmer of hope that there could be an answer. Of course, because of the sheer amount of miles this encompasses, the wall has never been completed and what is constructed needs repaired. There is a lack of border patrol available to monitor the wall and citizen volunteers in both Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure weak areas known to be used by those looking to enter illegally. This helps, but is not an answer.
The U.S. cannot continue to ignore this problem and changes must be made. I cannot imagine wanting to leave my country so desperately that I would risk being shot at or arrested for crossing into another country. As I reflect on this thought, it is easy to see that for all of our country’s problems, for many we are still a light at the end of the tunnel.