Neither mass deportations, nor mass citizenship
Thursday, November 07, 2013 4:00 PM
LAS VEGAS - When it comes to fixing our nation's illegal immigration problem,
we face two serious problems: One is plugging the gaping holes on the
enforcement side; the other is figuring out what to do with those who
are already here in the U.S. illegally, many of whom have been our
neighbors, friends and co-workers for many, many, years.
As to the second problem, anyone wanting a seat at the table to
resolve this issue has to acknowledge that this nation will never
support the inhumanity of a mass deportation of an estimated 12
million people, many of whom were brought here as children with no
say in the matter.
That said, in any immigration reform bill that Congress might
consider, the first priority must be to "stop the bleeding" -
meaning tough enforcement at our porous borders.
The Gang of Eight Senate bill wasn't strong enough on the
enforcement side making it a non-starter in the House. However,
establishing some new form of legalization or documented status - not
citizenship with voting rights - for many of those currently in the
U.S. illegally but who are otherwise productive members of our
communities, is doable and worth pursuing.
As Reynaldo Robledo, co-owner of Roberto's Taco Shops, noted over
the summer: "I don't think we need to rush to make people here
illegally citizens. They want to be able to live here and work, but
not everybody wants to be a citizen."
So let's take full-blown citizenship off the table for now and just
focus on establishing tough but fair criteria for allowing certain
families and individuals to continue living and working here under
some kind of legal status.
Then let's see if the federal government is really and truly
serious about sealing our borders and enforcing existing immigration
laws. Because at this point, Americans who have watched the federal
government look the other way as the illegal immigration problem
continued to get worse and worse have no reason to trust that "this
time" will be any better.
And part of any such stepped-up enforcement must include full
implementation of a comprehensive e-verify system that will make it
more difficult to hire individuals who enter the country illegally
without imposing an undue compliance headache on employers.
Once the federal government has demonstrated that the enforcement
side is real and not just lip service, sometime down the road we can
have a new discussion on the possibility of extending earned
citizenship - including tough penalties and rigid requirements -
that doesn't set back those who are already waiting in line.
Immigration reform in the U.S. is a triage situation. We need to do
first things first - not everything all at once - if we want to do it
right and save the patient.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grassroots
advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.MuthsTruths.com