Immigration Response

A few people have posted comments on my article on immigration amnesties. So I felt that i should make a response, the key thing that we need to remember is that these people may be illegal but they are still people created in Gods image.

They may also be illegal but they still should have all their human rights observed and upheld.  We also see a lot of inflammatory language used when addressing the immigration issue, such as invaders, stealing or the one that really cracks me up that immigrants will erode American values and culture. But there would be no illegal immigrants here if there was not Americans wanting and willing to employ them, also what is this American culture that would be eroded if the doors were opened wider? Is this the same culture that was built on the backs of immigrants and slaves? Modern America, i.e. post Native American America, has been built, dreamt, created by people fleeing poverty, injustice, hunger, disease and persecution.

These are the very same driving forces that bring people illegally, and to some extent legally, so it seems rich to complain about people coming to America when most of America is of immigrant descent. Yes they are illegal, and yes that is a crime and I do think that they should be sent home but at the same time lets remember that a lot of Americans came here and  got lucky because when they came there was no Customs and Border Control. I wonder how many of the Irish, Italians, Germans, Spanish, English, Scottish or Jewish who came here on ships would have been allowed in today? Many would have failed many of the very basic criteria such as not having a criminal record or passing a basic medical test or having a job offer or a passport…

The world is different today, the world is much flatter and people have so much more access to everything and the danger for America is higher now than it was but this of all countries needs to remember what it says on the statue of Liberty –

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Speaking from immigration experience, the doors are open (and I Love this country and love the life I have here) but there are opened with what can seem like scowling reluctance. What has made this country great is an openness to immigrants, and the cultural diversity that they bring. When America becomes afraid of immigrants, the American dream dies with that fear.

One last thing to remember is that the Israelite people and Jesus in the Bible were refugees at one stage in their lives and story…

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Immigration

Yesterday and in the past I have been hearing about the possibility of an illegal immigrant amnesty in the USA.  There is an estimated 12 million such people in this country.  The idea of an amnesty would be that for a limited period and through a limited process such illegals could become legal immigrants and maybe even legal permanent residents.

I recently met a person who was a recipient of such a programme during the Clinton administration, this man had been illegal for some 7 years prior to this, going as far as creating his own social security number and paying taxes to a government who knew his number was a self made creation but didnt care as long as he paid his taxes on time. It was a differnt time as now this would not be possible, as applicants for a SSN must hold a Visa that permits work and be cross checked by Department of Homeland Security.

But what I really want to talk about is the idea of an amnesty, I say this from a position of a non US citizen but a Visa holder working in the US who has gone through the due process including several thousand in lawyer fees, some undesired days spent in Canada waiting on a new Visa application deliberation and several lengthy inquisitions from Customs and Border Protection…being and going legal is not easy.

The idea of a process for a Visa application, which includes finger print scans, photos, interviews, paper work ,background checks, and even medical exams (for the Green Card) is to deter unsavory and sketchy people from entering the US (granted the rules need re-working as it can pretty arbitrary as to who gets in and who does not).  The idea of an amnesty is to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants and the poor treatment that these people get from US employers who do not need to grant these people the same rights or payment that an American would demand, because these people are not even here, they are not on any record as even existing. There is another factor here as well, if we kicked all the illegals out, could the American economy survive without all the muscle and hard work provided by illegals?

So if we make them legal then employers will have to deal with granting them better labour conditions and we will keep the cheap labour in the American economy.  But, will this really happen, will employers not just fire them and hire an illegal in their place? Also we need to ask why are people coming to the US, from say Latin America in the first place? Also what message does it provide to in fact reward people for their crimes with Visas and Green Cards? Being illegal is a crime, is it ok to ignore these federal offences, while at the same time making it pretty hard and expensive for people to come legally?

Also how much would such a amnesty cost, my friend that I met paid around $10,000 in fees…how many illegal immigrants have that money? Would such a costly system deal with the poorest people in this group? What happens to them?  You may have realised that by now I am against an amnesty, I think!  I think that there is  a problem with the system that we have in place,  a system that i think is driven by fear…a fear that  if we makes the doors more open then terrorists will flood in or more skilled more educated or cheaper people will steal American jobs.  But if you want to deal with an illegal immigration problem, the solution is not building a wall or a fence or creating an amnesty its dealing with foreign policy and the economies in poorer countries…

Most illegal immigrants are from poorer countries, who have less freedom, rights and money. Most of these people are here to make money and have a better life. Granted some of my fellow Irish are here illegally but the vast majority of the illegals are not from Western, affluent countries. If we deal with poverty there we will go a long way to dealing with this problem here.  Illegal immigration is fueled by poverty and injustice…in dealing with these we will also lower our need to fear terrorism…

It is easy for me to say this as am legal, and white and reactively well off, but being illegal is largely a choice (unless we are talking about people trafficking…which is not a choice…) and when we make a choice we have consequences and when we break a law we should be willing to do the time as it were…i have a hard time with amnesties as I understand them as they reward people for being illegal with becoming legal.

Tell me your thoughts please.