No doubt, this has been heavy on the minds of our representatives for the past few years. Unfortunately for all of us, citizens and illegals, the issue is now a mere electoral cattle prod with which to wield and coral public opinion. It’s another hot button issue along with abortion and gay marriage.
Every point and counter point has merit in what has rapidly become an obtuse anti-intellectual news byte on the network stations. What’s worse, is that people probably feel a lot like me – they feel strongly both ways, for and against, with and without sympathy and empathy for illegals in the country.
Rather than regurgitate what you’ve already read, I take some liberty here to assume that you are familiar with arguments on both sides. And betwixt these arguments are the realities which overshadow the moralizations of the pundits.
So, let’s deal with the realities first: There are by some estimate, over 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. No matter what side of the argument you are on, the crux of the issue is how to deal with those already here. Unless these illegal aliens stand-out amongst us, by committing a crime for example, they will continue to function in our communities and economy. They will exist there in some moribund state without insurance, driving licenses, checking accounts or labor protection. They may be taken advantage of, or, they may take advantage of us cluttering up our emergency rooms and high schools utilizing our tax dollars. You can pick any side of the issue and develop a multitude of pros and cons, gives and takes for each. No matter what, these people are here and practically impossible to deport to their country of origin; and I’m obviously not talking about all the children of illegals that were brought to the United States at an age too young to understand their situation.
So, what to do about them? There is no doubt, that it would benefit everyone that they become “documented.” For example, a driver’s license to ensure proper vehicle training, liability insurance and safer cars. Note: Since I wrote this several states have started issuing licenses for just these reasons: Let me restate something, “issuing a drivers license isn’t about granting citizenship, it’s about making our roads safe.”
Regarding a tax id or social security number: Although a tax identification number is available for illegals, many don’t apply for one or indeed may use one from another individual; with or without their consent. Documenting an illegal would allow the government to collect taxes which would pay for, among other things, securing our borders and dealing with a large immigrant population.
Documenting an illegal allows the various governmental agencies to manage and implement programs to assist both the illegals and the citizenry. For example, labor laws would be uniformly applied across all workers regardless of their legal status thus benefitting everyone. Children would able to complete their education through college or trade school thus improving their ability to contribute to society and their own families – notice how each item has a benefit to the person and the society? These benefits aren’t part of the equation if a more punitive approach is taken in dealing with the 11 million among us, and anyway, how feasible is a punitive approach in a country that contains 5% of the worlds population but houses 25% of its prisoners?
Of course, any thought of “self-deportation” or, shipping a percentage of the 11 million back to their country of origin, is simply specious, unfeasible and completely logistically improbable or impossible. Not to mention the fact that a good portion of those people are working: Imagine the hit to the economy if over a two year period half of them were unwillingly returned “home.”
I am not advocating mass pardons, simply acknowledging the fact that these people are here and impacting our society, and that having full documentation on them, as we do on any other citizen, will benefit all aspects of our social, legal and labor systems. Eventually, through time and a generation, the situation will resolve itself if the government manages the borders.