We’re at a crossroads in the United States of America when it comes to our immigration system.
Many Americans’ feel like the system isn’t working to benefit them, but to benefit foreigners at the expense of people who are already American citizens. Many people who have spent their life working hard-labored jobs feel that the importation of immigrants from poor parts of the world have cost them their job or forced their wages to go down. The decline in wages and accessibility to these types of blue-collar jobs likely have more to do with the technological revolution and automation than with immigration, but that doesn’t mean people who feel this way don’t have a point.
The reality is that America does bring in low-skilled immigrants and needs to transition to a more modern, merit-based immigration system. At the same time, immigrants from poor parts of the world are more likely to appreciate the American dream and have respect for values such as freedom of speech and free enterprise, which brings me to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
By all account the majority of the 800,000 recipients in the DACA program, are good people, and I don’t think anybody faults them for the law-breaking actions of their parents. These kids were brought here as minors and those who have been law-abiding, and sought out a job and an education deserve the opportunity to continue to be a part of the American dream.
However, a pathway to citizenship cannot be provided for anybody who happens to be here illegally if we don’t secure our borders first.
While the immigration debate can bring out the worst in some people, the need to secure our borders should be something that transcends ideology. The constitution demands that the United States government secure our border, which is something they have clearly failed to do over the past few decades. If a path to citizenship is provided for any group of undocumented immigrants, without the guarantee of first securing the border — that is simply poor public policy and an invite for people to bring their families across our border, with the guarantee that their kids get to stay.
I believe that there is a dark side to today’s immigration debate. Folks on the far-right, whom will slur anybody prepared to go to the negotiating table as shills for “amnesty,” or “open borders,” even when those same people are demanding border security. Those on the far-left will ridicule Democrats who agree to border security as racist. Both Democrats and Republicans should understand that the loudest voices in the immigration debate don’t speak for the American people or the majority of either party’s voters.
I urge all lawmakers on both sides: block out the noise and stick to your principles. Don’t be afraid to tick off some folks. Only then will real, comprehensive immigration reform be possible.