Amnesty to Illegal Immigrants - Just Making The Problem Worse?
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The United States has often been called a melting pot because of its history of accepting immigrants from around the world. However the country no longer has the open door that inspired the French artist to sculpt the Statute of Liberty and one of the hottest topics of the land is the issue of amnesty for illegal immigrants and what to do about it. As the U.S. developed as a nation we welcomed all the cheap labor we could get to populate vast tracts of unoccupied land and to provide workers to our emerging industrial base. Those days of unlimited opportunities are pretty much over but the lure of life in America remains strong in many poorer countries. It remains so strong that today there is an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants scattered across the nation. In the past our immigration controls were basically designed to prevent persons with communicable diseases from entering the country. The famous Ellis Island buttonhook eye exam is an example of how far the nation would go to keep out sick immigrants. Later political issues decided who got in and who didn't and the nation set quotas for each immigrant country to insure that one nation did not "swarm" America and have an undue influence. As the nation grew so did the restrictions on immigration. Today our immigration policies are complex and highly influenced by politics.
The Difference between Immigrants of Yesterday and Today
What is different between the immigration of the past and the illegal immigrants of today is the way they enter the country. In the days when ships were the primary source of transportation immigrants from Europe and Asia landed at ports where they could be relatively easily processed. Today the bulk of illegal immigration involves crossing our southern and northern borders, both of which are almost impossible to secure due to the terrain. Without a way to physically control entry it has been virtually impossible to stem the flow of immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America. The end result is there are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Amnesty to Illegals is not a new Idea
The question of how to handle this problem has been a subject of controversy for years. Amnesty has been extended to illegal immigrants 7 times since the passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Each extension of the amnesty to illegals accomplished nothing more than inviting new illegals to the country. This is the argument of those today that are steadfastly against granting amnesty to illegal's. Until the borders are secured to the point that we can physically control entry the immigrants will continue to cross. Until there are laws that have teeth to punish employers who hire undocumented workers, the motivation of a better job will still exist for immigrants. Amnesty for immigrants alone simply doesn't work. On the other hand, the idea that the country could somehow track down and deport 12 million people, a large number of whom are working, is ludicrous. Forgetting for a moment the huge expense processing and transporting these people would represent, deportation would significantly impact on our national productivity especially in lower paying jobs that would be difficult to fill with legal residents or citizens. At some point the problem has to be addressed because it becomes a bigger issue as every day passes. Committing resources to secure the borders will take an enormous amount of money at a time when we don't have any money to spare. However this has to happen in order to create some form of amnesty to illegal immigrants that will eventually lead to a legal status or even citizenship.