Immigration is one of the most complex and challenging issues facing the United States today. It is an issue with financial ramifications for every sector of our society, from minimum-wage unskilled workers to the professionals who help clients with these issues to the policymakers in Washington, DC, whose decisions on immigration help shape the nature of our society.
Many politicians over-simplify this issue into positions “for” or “against” immigration. That is a disservice for everyone. After all, there are nearly 200 different countries and approximately 7,000 different languages in the world — and many of them are well represented in the United States. In addition to national and language differences, our immigrants bring in their own religions, values and traditions.
Certainly, it is incorrect to say all immigrants are the same, and that is a blessing for our country. It enriches by giving us first-hand exposure to people with different customs and adds to the rich diversity of our people. Let us always embrace immigration, as it is the core of what has made the U.S. a great nation since its founding.
But we must also remember the painful lessons from our nation’s past. Some of America’s first immigrants came from England, Scotland, France and Scandinavia searching for a new life, new opportunities, freedom from tyranny and freedom of religion. But they also trampled on the rights of the Native Americans who were already here, and supported the cruel and immoral practice of slavery, bringing millions of black Africans here against their will.
Today, many immigrants from around the world see the United States as a land of opportunity. That is a great thing for families, college students, entrepreneurs and professionals who believe in the value of honesty, integrity and hard work. Unfortunately, there are other immigrants who have a criminal background or seek to exploit others for their own purposes. That is why it is so important to uphold and enforce U.S. laws, regardless of an individual’s political position.
It is baffling to see people come into this country illegally or overstay their visa and then march in the streets and demand they be made citizens. In this case, the ends definitely do not justify the means. If the first act of a would-be immigrant it to break the law, can we really expect them to uphold our laws in the future?
Many say that all immigrants should be welcomed, regardless of legal status, because they do tasks that no American citizen wants to do. I beg to differ. Today, we have millions of people out of work, including a large percentage of the unemployed who receive government assistance like food stamps and subsidized housing. While that support may be necessary in cases of personal hardship, it also provides an incentive for a large portion of the U.S. population to avoid work.
I believe that if an undocumented immigrant can bring in enough income to survive (although with hardship) so could millions of Americans doing the same job. Therefore, the government should enforce current laws such as having employers e-verify their workers and penalize those who do not. This alone would put more people into the workforce and generate more growth in the economy.
To those who advocate leniency for people entering this country illegally, let me ask where you live. Would you like uninvited guest to enter your home, eat your food, and sit in your sofa while enjoying a TV sitcom? I don’t think you’d like that, even if your “guest” took out the trash when leaving the next morning.
In short, I believe in a fair and balanced immigration policy that welcomes newcomers to our country. I also believe in the fundamental rule of law. If we can adhere to those two pillars, we will be well on our way to strengthening our society in facing the challenges of the 21st century.