This is a difficult post to write, the subject matter is grisly to say the least. But after listening to the recent firestorm of protest over the new Arizona immigration law, it is obvious that a lot of people are not really looking at all sides of the story squarely. It’s always easy to get caught up in emotion, but it’s difficult to think through all of the ramifications of our ideas and decisions to come to a more reasoned solution.
The Arizona border situation is a complete mess. Simply take a look at this poor person in the picture. They tried to walk across the Arizona desert and this is what can happen when you are ill prepared for what can only be described as a desert marathon. And what happened to the ‘coyotes’ to whom this person paid hard earned cash for their help and guidance across this difficult landscape? Nowhere to be found.
The victims of the federal government’s lack of interest in securing our borders include many like this person. They die trying to cross. This is a human tragedy. Obviously, the United States cannot simply open our borders completely and let everyone who wants to come enter. We are no longer the pre-industrial revolution country in need of millions of new immigrants to build the country from the ground up. We are now a post industrial society where education is critically important to success.
Yes, there are still jobs for new immigrants from the under developed world, but not nearly as many as there once were. Illegal immigration makes climbing the income ladder extremely difficult for those who are here and trying to work their way up the ladder. We still need immigrants, but they should come legally, in a measured stream, with some controls in place. What’s a shame is that illegal immigration has now given legal immigration itself a bad rap, a rap that’s not necessary. America can still prosper and grow with the help of new immigrants, as it always has, but we cannot continue to serve them, and ourselves, so poorly as this person was served.
Americans are a compassionate people, which is one reason why they support the new Arizona Law so broadly. So why does the political class have such a problem trying to understand this issue. The simple and I believe correct answer is that they are not trying to resolve the illegal immigration issue at all. They are manuevering for votes. This is why there is such a huge gulf between the citizens and our elected officials. We see the issue as the issue, they see the issue as political strategy.
My grandparents, all 4 of them, were immigrants to this country. They came legally, some through the famous Ellis Island. On a visit to New York a few years ago, I had a chance to see what they saw when they first set foot in America. It was an emotional experience. And like the poor person in the photo above, they came from an impoverished land, where they had little hope of a better life and less hope for freedom. They also came here legally. But the country needed lots of immigrants back then, and they helped to build the country we are today. Today, we need a new solution to the immigration issue, one that respects the human tragedy that can result when we do not make our border secure, and one that understands the economic realities of life in modern America. C’mon, politicos, take a close look and tell me that we can’t do better than this!
If you want more information about the illegal immigration and the suffering it causes, you can start with some facts at good old wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigrant_deaths_along_the_U.S.-Mexico_border. In 2000, the number of people who died soared to over 500, and these are only the ones we know about.