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Comprehensive immigration reform

Mark Easley | Thursday, December 2, 2010

When it comes to the issue of illegal immigration, there are many different voices with valid points trying to talk over each other at the same time. Everyone is concerned about aspects that really matter. How can you tell the family that has been affected by drug war violence that the border is not an issue? How can you tell millions of people to just up and leave? How can you stop people from trying to get their own piece of the American Dream? There are real issues at stake and many good people stuck in the crossfire, but we need to have a solution soon if we want to move forward.

Many are calling for strong border security, and those concerns are very valid. Countless tons of drugs, countless illegal immigrants, and countless weapons cross the border every single day. This is causing stress on the nation, financial and social stress on border towns and states and creates danger for Mexicans and Americans. Day after day we hear of the unspeakable drug violence in Mexico and fear that it might spill over to our side. Living in fear is not tolerable, and having essentially a war take place next door is not sustainable. Border States have seen rising murder and kidnapping rates as criminals from the south permeate the rich drug markets of the north. The federal government has a duty to enforce our borders and protect our citizens from foreign violence, but they have failed to do so, which is why states are desperately trying to correct the problem themselves with legislation like Arizona’s SB1070. Border security needs to be solved before any other type of solution can be implemented. Otherwise, our children are going to have the same issues we are having now, but worse.

Many are calling for amnesty, because America needs the workers and there is sympathy for hard working immigrants who come to this country to prosper, and those concerns are valid. There are many Mexican and South American people who cross the border illegally that have honest intentions. They come to escape poverty and oppression, just as many of our ancestors did. Their illegal status opens them up to exploitation as well as a constant anxiety over being discovered and deported. These people need to be addressed and not forgotten or ignored. In the old days, immigrants simply signed their name in a book at Ellis Island and immediately were left to fend for themselves. How is this much different from modern illegal immigrants? Often these hardworking immigrants contribute to society and take the harder, unskilled jobs that are not desirable. This keeps wage inflation low and improves the nation’s overall quality of life. America is built with the labor of hardworking immigrants, and as their children grow up in our systems and schools they will achieve higher levels in our society than their parents. What we need is a way to legalize and keep these good people in the country, and kick out the bad ones.

Comprehensive immigration reform requires that these two sides be addressed simultaneously. We need to be hard line on border security. Military presence on the border, a great wall of America, or other ways to stop the influx must be implemented immediately. Continuing the status quo of easily crossed borders will bring violence and financial and societal stress to even more unsustainable levels. We need to also address the people already here and show our compassionate side and fiscal reasoning. We should issue amnesty to those with a good track record, but with caveats since they still have broken our laws. Citizenship can be earned quickly with military service or by the slower traditional method. Just because you live next door does not mean you should have an easier time to immigrate to this country than the millions of others who wish every day they could move here. Illegals should not be able to continue to cut in line in front of those who follow our laws and have to wait months and years for approval.

Immigration and border security will continue to be an issue until we address these two subjects head on.


Mark Easley is a junior majoring in computer science. He can be reached at measley@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.