After what happened last Friday morning, I’m not really in the mood to rant. I’d rather explore some Big Idea. Something to move us all forward, or at least to begin a discussion in a positive vein, hopeful for the future, rather than complaining about what is wrong right now. With that thought in mind, I bring you:
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION—THE BIG IDEA
I understand that the term “illegal immigration” is morphing into “immigration status”, as though there are people situate in the United States who suddenly find their legal status to be here in question. I refuse to accept this latest attack on good sense. I will continue to recognize the fact that these people broke the law crossing the border. In fact, if they have crossed the border illegally more than once, they have committed a felony. These people have chosen to begin their lives in this country as criminals, and no euphemism can change that fact. No matter how justified their motives or pure their hearts, or how many children they have.
It is specifically the status of those children whom they squirrel across the border that I want to address. First off, in this invective charged society, I feel it incumbent upon me to explain that I am not a monster. I do not hate children. I have a child of my own, and I am very fond of him (he would probably prefer the word obsessed, but as we all know, I do not adopt others’ descriptions). So I have nothing but sympathy for those poor children who were dragged here by their parents, accepted into our elementary and secondary schools, raised in this culture, and who are only now, having attained adulthood, facing the consequences of their parents’ actions. (I am saving the rant against the hypocrisy of a culture that chooses not to enforce its own laws against short people with big limpid eyes, because we are so concerned about the children, but slams the door on those same people because they made the terrible mistake of getting taller, for another time.)
So, here they are, those bright, shiny, newly minted high school graduates who suddenly have nowhere to go. How many are people are we talking about? Apparently, it’s approximately 65,000. 65,000 souls out of a nation of 300 million people. 65,000 out of 3,000,000 new graduates. That’s two percent. We’re talking small numbers here. Employment from May to June 2012 increased by 176,000 workers. If every illegal minor got a job, they would be absorbed in this one month’s growth without a ripple. Putting these people to work after educating them in our schools is not going to break the bank. So it isn’t taking American jobs that is the problem.
Maybe the problem is that providing any means to citizenship to these people rewards their criminal parents, and encourages more illegal immigration. You know what really rewards those criminal parents? Money. You know what encourages illegal immigration? Jobs. Those people sneak across our border so that they can provide a living for their families. During the recent recession, many of them sneaked back home because they couldn’t find work, regardless of the first-class education their children were receiving in our schools.
Don’t believe me? Try enforcing the immigration laws against their children. Require all students to have proper paperwork and ID before allowing them to enroll in school and see what happens. The parents will still sneak across the border. They will still bring their children. Only now, they won’t enroll their kids in school. The powers-that-be know this; that is why they allow illegal alien minors to go to school. They don’t want the poor children to be stuck in some shack while their parents go to work. Or to be forced to work alongside their parents, instead of receiving an education. So let’s disentangle ourselves from the rhetoric. Dealing with this small percentage of a small percentage of the people residing in our country should not be a big deal. Let’s figure out a fix and move on.
Retribution under the law tends to be a balancing act between the guilty and the innocent. Between two actors in a situation, the law favors the innocent. In our scenario, the guilty here are the illegal’s parents, who came here illegally, and the American government, whose members did not enforce the law. The illegal minor is an innocent. But the American people are also innocent. So, between two innocents, what can we do? It’s a shame that the burden must fall upon the illegal minor, but I see no way around it. Someone must atone for the sins of the fathers, and it usually turns out to be the child
The DREAM ACT provides one solution to the mess, part of which I agree with. The DREAM ACT would allow a path to citizenship if the illegal minor either joins the military or goes to college. I think that the military is a perfect response, but college is not. Military service on behalf of the country to which the child wants to belong is a reasonable requirement. So is some other form of service: Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross. Working with any number of service agencies for a specified amount of time should be sufficient to commence eligibility for an alternative avenue to legal assimilation. Even service in other countries should be counted. What better way to stem the tide of illegal immigration to this country than to enhance working and living conditions in the countries of origin?
Only the college path should not be an option, for a number of reasons. First, the whole higher education love-fest we’re currently enduring is ridiculous. Not everyone is college material. Not every job on the planet should require a college degree. (Sorry. I forgot. No ranting). Suggesting that illegals should be competing for scholarships with actual citizens goes beyond the pale. And encouraging even more people to go into debt to support our massive rising student loan-college tuition debacle is anathema to good sense.
Once the illegal minors have finished their tours of duty and fulfilled the other requirements for citizens, they may apply for college, if they so desire. But they will be attending as fully-fledged citizens, who have proved their worth. Let’s stop rewarding infantile behavior, and start applauding those who act like adults. Let the sins of the fathers provide a spur to their children to make this world a better place.