There was no substantive action on immigration reform on the part of the US Senate and Congress last year and this year was a bust. The politics of the November 2020 elections will turn on fear rather than accountability, and both parties will avoid a fight that may alienate their perceived base.
You and I could never avoid such an overwhelming responsibility.
When a person is obligated to live up to a high standard, he or she often does so as if carrying a heavy burden. The weight is measured by whether the duty is the product of actions she is responsible for, has tacitly supported, or has forced upon her.
Americans have many obligations. Paying taxes, stopping at red lights, tolerating purportedly harmless behavior, never using the n-word, and living by the golden rule, are all examples of responsibilities and obligations, by degree.
Then there are moral obligations. These beg a higher standard. Moral obligations can hurt, but they cannot be denied. They connote sacrifice. Americans see a moral obligation to defend the weak, feed the hungry, accept fatherhood, and offer monetary assistance to those sincere but desperate for a chance at self-dignity in our land of plenty.
Americans have a moral obligation to resolve our immigration issue. It is thorny. It is not cut and dried. But resolve it we must. Give Trump his due, but the corona virus has cut illegal immigration more than anything that could be built.
Our moral obligation to the immigrant has become a heavy burden because we have fostered illegitimacy through political positioning and abrogated it by benign neglect, year after year. It has more value as a political flashpoint than as a problem solved.
Our nation fought a civil war 150 years ago on an idea: that all men are created equal, and that slavery had to end. Then it took our nation another 50 years to give half the adult population the right to vote. We must call ourselves not to fighting amongst ourselves, but to that greater standard, by eschewing the trite excuses of economic forces and embracing the immigrant with dignity, living wages, and the responsibility that comes with our way of life.
Every time we save a few dollars using inexpensive, illegal labor there is a tear shed, somewhere, for a higher ideal that condemns slavish conditions. Illegal immigration is a disproportionate burden on the middle and lower income people in our communities. It prevents them from working and striving for the American dream. That cannot stand.
We know the causes of the illegal immigration mess, but two are pillars of cultural apathy: ineffective Central American government, and a U.S. neglect of adherence to its own laws.
Short of the annexation of Central America as additional US states, the people south of our borders need to hold their own government accountable or watch them migrate to make a better life. Many of these nations are not governed by the rule of law, like the U.S. used to be, and most developed nations are today. Many of these nations are a malignancy of poverty.
Our nation is guilty of a listless shrug by allowing our laws to be broken, without true consequence. Our immigration policies are a sham because we have allowed them to be used as political trading cards.
Where there is no consequence for illegal acts, there is no integrity.
Americans have an obligation to resolve the immigration puzzle, through compassionate laws, and utilizing stern consequences for failure to comply. Whether the alien, the employer, the border guard, the local cop, or someone who needs a little yard work done, everyone has a responsibility to obey the law.
Americans are morally obligated to embrace those who come here legally in search of citizenship and a better life. A solution to segregate the sincere from the charlatan may be administratively onerous, and may appear, anecdotally, to be unfair. But we cannot encourage or reward illegal behavior.
The generation of domiciled illegals with children and grandchildren born as citizens should be respected and partially accommodated, but that emotional claim should not control our actions. Coyotes and the drug traffickers they escort should all be incarcerated, here, and not released. The cost of the penal system will shrink over time if we deal with abhorrent behavior sternly.
It is not bigotry to ask immigrants and aspiring citizens to know and obey our laws, to acquiesce to local customs and courtesies, to support our educational system, to pay taxes, and optionally, to learn English. Know that the government has no obligation to use more than one language. If you want success as an immigrant to the USA, learn English.
America should consider ‘fast-tracking’ aspirants to citizenship, through several obvious methods, like satisfactory completion of military service, or a long dedicated taxpaying employment to an established legal enterprise. We should not confiscate property from those who have earned it legally. Guest worker programs are obvious, but we might also consider allowing local municipalities, counties, and states to establish swift constitutional criteria for citizenship. And we may need a national ID card and, unfortunately, the bureaucracy that goes with it.
It is crucial to never reward illegal behavior. Blanket amnesty is the same as an open border. To the millions who are here illegally and cannot be deported: we should let them stay, providing no criminal actions, and they should be given legal status, but they are not conferred citizenship, ever. Stay, work, pay taxes, obtain benefits… but the one element of citizenship will be denied to that person because he or she is here illegally: the privilege to vote.
Future illegal entry should be dealt with swiftly and without appeal. The sanction must be humane, but onerous. Abettors of these “caravans” (remember the good old days before the virus? ) these abettors will be held to account, also. Imagine if 10,000 Canadians moved through the USA to enter Mexico under the ruse of asylum. Should the Mexican government expect the US to act? Of course, as we have had the benefit of Mexico’s efforts to stem this tide of organized activity. Only the most naïve among us see these caravans as spontaneous events. There is much evidence that bad actors for a variety of reasons have been financing the exodus for months gone by, before the coronavirus.
And the aberration of sanctuary cities erodes our credibility, and moral integrity, as a nation. The law is the law. If cities can flaunt the law, why obey any of it? That is playing out today, in, ironically, sanctuary cities. Yes, the feds should pull the lug on cities that do not conform to the law. It’s about votes and money, people, so cut off the cash flow. That should get their attention.
Ironic also that the loudest who bray about sanctuary for illegals live in gated communities.
We should never forget that some illegal immigrants risked their lives to come here. But the facts are in conflict with the emotions. Most of those people here illegally have overstayed a visa. That is a breach of an agreement, and ultimately a selfish illegal act.
In the face of complication, emotion, and conflicting interests, America should not shirk its moral obligation to immigrants just because the ability to police their behavior appears insurmountable. It is not impossible. Our future depends on an earnest solution that is founded on the rule of law and consequences for illegal actions.
Not every political concern will be fulfilled. Our children’s generation will judge our efficacy. Inane sound-bites aside, we must address the legality of the problem dispassionately.
Nothing short of carrying this burden, with a mighty heart, will satisfy our moral obligation to our fellow man. The national sacrifice to do it right will be worth it.