Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Immigration Sanity

The challenge of illegal or "undocumented" aliens/immigrants will not go away. Global agribusiness and other service industries enjoy cheap labor and radical political forces are thrilled to watch a borderless environment emerge that will undermine the American Empire.

No one is seriously talking about the deeper issues affecting the future of our nation.

What does citizenship mean? When is a law no longer a law because no one will enforce it?

If we "normalize" the current 11-15 million undocumented workers, what systemic changes will be in place to prevent another crisis with millions more in a few years?

The cohesion of a culture - even a very diverse one - rests on shared values, vision and virtues. Our Founders knew this and generations since have been falling short and striving to achieve the equity and justice rooted in moral and spiritual values.

How do we move forward with compassion and conviction, with opportunity for all and upholding the rule of law, and with a clear pathway to citizenship?

Here are some first thoughts:
  • We must distinguish three levels of participation in American socirty and the rights and responsibilities of each.
  • "Guest Workers" need to be registered, seasonal and treated well; however, they are not year-round, permanent residents and must exit and re-enter in an orderly fashion.
  • "Resident Alien" status can be expanded, but it must include proper documentation, taxes and learning English. Failure to participate in the larger educational and social fabric of our culture undermines the harmony-in-diversity we long to achieve.
  • "Citizenship" should be an achievable aspiriation for many, provided they have learned the language, history and values associated with America.
  • Employers must be accountable to register all workers and be in compliance with immigration and labor laws. All the protections for American workers must apply to guest workers and green card holders. Without this, nothing will change.
  • We must be very clear that borders matter and enforcement must be consistent and fair. We do not need to establish policy based upon historical guilt for 1848!

The presence of millions who will work for substandard wages and live in poor housing may help some of the poverty across the border, but the only real winner is global capitalism. The losers are American workers and ultimately our entire culture.

There is much to be done. Blanket amnesties and huge fences are not the answer. Moral courage and a quest for cultural cohesion must win the day or the American Experiment will be another casualty of world history.

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