Third Party & Independents Archives

Immigration: More of the Same This Election Season?

The question of what to do with immigration in the United States is certainly a complex one, and with a number of important elections on the horizon, in which immigration will almost certainly play a significant role, now is as good an opportunity as any to explore the issue in detail.

To begin with, it's worth remembering that America was created to be a melting pot, giving hope and opportunity to all who seek those things. To realize this, one must look no further than the inscription 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.

America was founded on the premises of freedom: that those who wish to make a better life for themselves - while practicing whichever religion they choose, or choosing to turn their back on religion altogether - could do so by applying themselves.

The country did not turn its back on anyone who wanted to enter - provided, of course, that they abide by the laws required under the American immigration code.

While immigrants - the people who literally every American has descended from - have helped build America into what it's become, it's certainly worth noting that history has proven civilizations that become too diverse and take in too many people have failed. We look to ancient Rome for the most obvious example.

In 2014, America is facing what is potentially a similar crisis. While people have entered the country illegally every year the country has been in existence, immigration from America's southern border is accelerating at an alarming rate this year. In fact, illegal immigration is likely to be a very important issue in the midterm elections of 2014, as well as the presidential election of 2016.

So What Can We Do?

On the one hand, we have to ask ourselves if we have the moral obligation to accept and accommodate immigrants - particularly children - who are truly risking their lives to come to America for a better life.

But on the other side of the equation, today's economy is uncertain at best. Many Americans can't find work and countless others have given up on finding a job altogether. With government spending at unprecedented levels, can the United States really afford to increase the stress on its security blankets by paying support services to these undocumented individuals?

There must be some kind of compromise. Suppose we offered some kind of scholarship program to immigrants in return for performing some kind of light duty in the armed forces? It would offer them employment in the short-term while providing them with the experience and tools they need to improve their lives in the long-term.

That's just one idea, and frankly, I have no idea if it's even feasible. But it's the sort of thinking I expect from our leaders that seems to be increasingly absent.

What are Our Options, Anyway?

Here are the answers America must choose between: amnesty, deportation, or some combination thereof.

No matter which way you spin it, the American economy has come to rely on undocumented workers in a variety of industries. These workers sometimes serve as the backbone of staff in restaurants, manual labor organizations, and domestic service companies, among many others. In other words, illegal aliens undoubtedly contribute very significantly to our society - all 11.7 million of them.

And despite not paying income taxes, these contributors to society pay taxes when they fill up their cars, pay their cable bills and go shopping - and so on and so forth.
Can we really afford to deport these people?

Well, law-abiding Americans pay their taxes, too - on everything. Anyone who's in the middle class will tell you that they're squeezed by the tax man everywhere they turn.
As a result, the fact that undocumented workers don't pay taxes on their income - albeit, in a way that many Americans working the same jobs don't, either - is something the country would probably do well not to embrace.

What Do Our Representatives Actually Do?

Any way you look at it, the immigration situation is a mess. But in times like these, we turn to our leaders to help us. After all, that's why we send them to Washington: to guide us collectively through the challenges the nation will invariably face.

But do our representatives actually do that?

As a country, we don't think so. Congressional approval ratings have been abysmal for the past few years.

How does this apply to the immigration situation? The Tea Party-led Republican caucus is pushing for an immigration bill that the Democratic Senate simply will not pass.

How's that for leadership?

This kind of blatantly inept inaction, unfortunately, has resulted in a kneejerk reaction from the White House. You can't really blame the president, who as a leader has to address a serious problem that is becoming more and more integral to the American political narrative.

Backed into a corner, President Obama has no choice but to do something. Unfortunately, it's likely that what he's going to do, depending who you ask, will probably be unconstitutional: what with delaying the deportation of millions of illegals, acting without congressional approval.

But you can't necessarily blame the guy for doing what he wants to do when the rest of the government can't do anything whatsoever, thanks to political drama to which we, the public, are not privy.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Ask yourself: What's fair? In a world where many hard-working Americans feel like Uncle Sam's got his claws into every cent that passes from the paycheck to the wallet, should the nation crack down on undocumented workers who aren't paying taxes on their income?

Then again, the popularity of the FairTax program indicates that income taxes aren't popular with any American worker - undocumented or otherwise.

On the other hand, should we grant illegal aliens amnesty and let them become citizens? And would this devalue what the many law-abiding immigrants have had to do to become naturalized in recent years?

Yes, this is a complex issue. But something has to be done. Regrettably, all we can really do right now is wait and see which of our candidates in the coming months and years actually comes up with a suitable compromise.

More than anything, we have to understand that as a privileged country, offering refuge for those in need is important, and possible even a moral obligation. But at the same time, the security blanket we so graciously extend to many cannot cover everyone who willfully choose to disobey the law.

We can only hope that our elected leaders, now or in the near future, work tirelessly toward solving a problem that has significant implications for every one of us.

Posted by DFaris at September 4, 2014 8:23 AM
Comment #382775

I fear “more of the same” is what some of our elected leaders will give us but there is a growing number that understand the demographic changes that are occurring and will respond in their own best interests to try to address the problem. Whether they can come up with solutions or not remains to be seen. President Obama will do what he can and absorb the blame that will be directed to him by people who cannot come up with anything better but just love to criticize anything he does as not good enough.

Posted by: Speak4all at September 4, 2014 2:17 PM
Comment #382935

Visa overstayers are 40-50% of the problem. These people came into the system once, at an airport or a border, and you would think a system could be devised to better track them since we know they are here. Both Republican and Democrat could support reform of that system without ailienating their respective bases, so how about just cutting out that one issue and working on it instead of trying to do something comprehensive?

Posted by: George in SC at September 9, 2014 9:00 AM
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