Guest post by David Arredondo
First, Do No Harm
This past week Speaker John Boehner declared that it is very unlikely that any immigration legislation will pass the House this year. While that is a wise decision, it would be equally wise to begin crafting necessary immigration legislation to be taken up in 2015.
Is our immigration system broken? Do we need more or less immigration? If so, what, who, why? Do we need more or fewer workers? In what industries? How much will this cost the taxpayer over the next 20-40 years? Many of our current governmental bureaucracies are actually remnants of the 19th and 20th Centuries, including our immigration system. But before any so-called “comprehensive changes” are made, like the Senate immigration bill that passed last year, let us take our time. There is absolutely no reason for any reform to be done all at once.
The first priority of reform must be security; the lack thereof is what caused 9/11. It is also the reason why 11 million are currently here unlawfully. The Federal government must know who enters the country, where they are, and when they leave. The Border fence is nonsense. Though it does have a practical purpose, it should not be the ultimate solution to the current and future problem of illegal immigration. The Border Fence is more practically needed as a way to stop drug and weapons trafficking than illegal entry. Many, almost half, of those currently here illegally entered legally at one time. Currently we have electronic systems to identify and locate individuals. All visitors and immigrants must be part of such a system that will monitor their arrival and departure. Homeland Security is already developing and implementing biometric data for everyone entering and exiting the country.
Cost is an important consideration. How much is immigration reform going to cost? The Congressional Budget Office projects costs in the TRILLIONS over the next 10-20 years with Federal, state and local taxpayers footing the bill. Is it truly fair that those who did not create this problem in the first place should have to pay to enable those that did so to stay? Therefore, those that caused the problem and who now wish to remain here legally should pay for such a new immigration system to cover the security, the processing, and the enforcement. Every step of this new initiative must have a significant fee attached to it.
Though security and enforcement are essential priorities, assimilation of all new immigrants is just as important. Let’s be honest, when and if legislation is passed it will legalize most of those here now illegally. Today, America is more divided than ever and 11 million new residents, immigrants, will only add to the divide unless they are encouraged to assimilate into Greater American life. This means learning and communicating in English and becoming contributing members of society. Though not official, English is the language of the United States and for that matter, it is the bridge for peoples of all nations to communicate with one another as a common language. Many throughout the world know this and thus study and learn some degree of English. Our residents should do no less. Bilingual/multilingual ballots and public sector publications contribute to this divide and must be ended.
Rather than re-invent our current immigration processes, let the 11 million seeking amnesty conform to it. Our system, as do most nations’ immigration systems, requires a non-immigrant to apply for a visa in their home country in order to enter and visit the destination country. Our international students, visitors, etc., all must apply for and be granted a visa which is then stamped into their passports. For those who broke the law due to unlawful presence, the first step on the path to legal residency and citizenship must be to return to their country of origin and do the same as our visa and immigration process currently requires. They need to conform and comply to our existing laws and regulations and not vice versa.
It took years to create this problem and therefore it should take years to be certain that proposed reform is done correctly. While, “Give me Your Tired and Your Poor” was a reasonable slogan for the 19th Century, it is totally unsuitable for 21st Century America. Rather, let us enact reform with this slogan in mind: “Give Me Your Best and Your Brightest.”
David G. Arredondo is Vice Chairman of the Lorain County Republican Executive Committee. He is actively involved with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and familiar with the immigration system as it pertains to college students. Mr. Arredondo is the son of Mexican immigrants who settled in Lorain in the 1920’s.