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A path to citizenship

Ashley Currey | Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mr. Ellis, I found your “Argument Against Amnesty” to be unfounded and unreasonable.
First, to call undocumented workers “criminals” ignores the complexity of their situation. They are not “enemies,” but people seeking the American Dream. Current laws make it exceedingly difficult to enter our country; in fact, I’d call our laws unjust because they force many to live in abject poverty. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, when a law is unjust, one has a moral obligation to break it. Our immigration laws are, at present, unfair and unyielding. The immigrants who break these laws are not hardened criminals but human beings who are weary of seeing their children go hungry. If we can grant asylum to political refugees, there should be no reason for us to exclude economic refugees.
Next, you say immigrants are “entitled to nothing,” not even the right to work. I say they were made in the image of the same God who made you and me. By virtue of their humanity, undocumented workers have the right to all those things you would deny them.
You claim we have “earned” our freedoms. I, for one, have never served in the military and have never done anything to merit the freedom I have been gifted by the accident of my birth. I pitch in with taxes, but the same can be said of undocumented workers, who contribute $80,000 more to public coffers than they use in social services. The President’s Council of Economic Advisors reports, “immigrants not only help fuel the Nation’s economic growth, but also have an overall positive effect on the American economy as a whole.” The idea we are “footing the bill” for immigrants is a myth.
So, what do you propose we do about immigration? “Imprison” these “lawbreakers?” You realize imprisoning them would mean paying for their shelter, food and prison guards, correct? If you are really worried about “footing the bill” for undocumented workers, your suggestion does nothing to fix what you perceive as the problem. And what about children who cross the border illegally? Should we imprison those hardened criminals as well?
You also suggest securing the border. Such measures have failed to curb the inflow of immigrants while succeeding in driving them into more dangerous territory, tripling the death rate on the border.
It is very easy to sit comfortably in the Notre Dame bubble and condemn those stuck in poverty going through hell to make it to our country just to have the chance at a better life. Undocumented workers don’t come here because they are lazy or because it is easy. They come here because they want to live.
You say granting amnesty would be an injustice. That is absurd. The real injustice is sitting idly by while your fellow men either struggle in poverty or die trying to cross our border.
 Ashley Currey
Ryan Hall