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Sunday
January 20th, 2019

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt

 

There is a fiery debate going on in Washington, D.C., right now relating to whether or not a barrier along the southern border is necessary to help curtail illegal or undocumented immigration.

Let’s be clear on what everyone can agree — legal immigration is supported. No one opposes legal immigration. Let’s say it again — no one opposes legal immigration. Anyone who enters the country legally is welcome.

The debate is about illegal immigration only and how best to deal with it.

Just to be clear, because someone will try to make this racial, no one is challenging legal immigration or opposing legal immigrants.

Nancy Pelosi stated that placing a barrier at the southern border so that immigrants have to enter the country legally  is “immoral” and “doesn’t reflect our values.”

Just what are our values?

One American value is the belief in the American Dream, that anyone willing to work hard can improve the quality of life for their family.

Does an open border support that value?

Actually, it doesn’t.

Illegal immigrants are the most abused people in the country. They usually work for less than fair wages, and in many cases are paid in cash so the employer can avoid tax liabilities.

Without legal status, they can’t seek traditional loans or even legally obtain driver’s licenses in most of the country, leaving them with a second- or even third-class life.

This may be a step up from the poverty in their home country, but it does not reach the promise of the American Dream.

And it actually hurts others chasing the dream.

Because many of these illegal immigrants use false documents in order to gain employment, they compete against other legal immigrants, and they drive wages down. So, they not only limit the reach of their own American Dream, but they also make it more difficult for those who played by the rules to achieve the dream as well.

Does that sound like an American value?

Another value we all share is equal justice under the law.

No matter who commits a crime, we believe in the rule of law, and that none of us are above it.

Pelosi likes to point out how the privileged are able to skirt accountability, but are we not doing the same thing for those who enter the country and stay in America illegally? 

If we don’t enforce the law in this case, how do we hold others to be accountable to the law?

In an equal society, the law has to apply the same to everyone.

There are countries where that is not the case, but they are usually led by dictators or communist leaders who enjoy privilege while the masses suffer with no path out of despair.

But in America, we are all protected equally by the laws, something that we believe to be an American value, and we also believe in following those rules.

When others blatantly violate immigration law, they are not espousing the American values we claim to uphold.

Again, because they entered the country illegally, they are victimized with no redress in court.

If an immigrant woman in the country illegally is a victim of domestic violence, will she call law enforcement knowing that she will be deported?

What if someone refuses to pay an illegal immigrant for labor, will they file suit, knowing they risk deportation?

Illegal immigrants fall out of legal protection, and that is not an American value.

Barriers aren’t built for those who follow the law and share our values. They are built for those who don’t.

For those who do share our values, we have ports of entry and registration locations.

As far as those who have already entered illegally, we will have to find a way that both reflects our values and shows compassion, but there should be no dispute that we have to stop access to those who have chosen to not follow the law.

This isn’t new.

As early as 1819 manifests of all people entering the country were required to keep track of all new arrivals, and citizenship requirements that started at two years went to as high as 12 years. In those days, newcomers also had to renounce their previous country before becoming a citizen.

The influx of immigrants has also shifted from coming from other continents to coming from the same continent.

By the 1920s, America started placing quotas on how many immigrants could come to America, and that policy has been adjusted by percentages from various parts of the world over the past century.

Every now and then immigration policy became a political issue, but for the most part, the country was on the same page. In today’s highly politicized environment, it is virtually impossible to have a consensus on any issue, not based on the policy itself as much as opposing the people proposing it.

When we separate policy from personality, it is clear that the southern barrier will protect Americans from those seeking to do harm, and even those that aren’t seeking to do harm but bring with them unintended consequences of suppressed wages and higher burdens on social safety nets, we see that a barrier is not only logical but necessary.

The only way to maintain American values is to require those who come to the country to do so through a legal process.

We live in a much different world than our ancestors. The biggest reason has been a shift in values, and the misperception that we are helping the less fortunate by allowing them to illegally enter the country and to live in the shadows.

We have some who want to legislate morality when it suits their case while turning a blind eye to other moral issues such as abortion.

If we truly want to help those seeking the American Dream, we need a barrier so that those who come here do so legally.

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