We are a nation of immigrants. My father's mother was born in London, her father was born in London, her mother in Wales. My family roots have been traced to the Mayflower, we were early immigrants. We believe, but lack documentation, that my great grandmother on my mother's side was native American. But pretty much all the rest of the ancestry is European. British, Irish, German. The arrivals in the last century arrived with paperwork in order, my grandmother was able to bypass Ellis Island and go directly to her father on the piers in New York, he had been here for sometime working and had filed all of the paperwork so his wife and kids were legal before they left Southampton.
Immigration is a hot topic in the United States at the moment. It is estimated that there are between 12 and 20 - million illegal aliens in the country. I know I just crossed the politically correct line, by referring to persons who violated the laws and entered the country without legal permission as illegal aliens. It is what they are in the word of the law. I can recall attending a workshop 10-12 years ago on this issue and being admonished that "no person is illegal, you must never refer to anyone as an illegal alien, it makes them sound like they are from another planet." First they control the words, then they seek to control the thoughts. A non-citizen is an alien in the words of our immigration laws. If they lack the legal authority to enter or remain in the country they are breaking the law and hence are illegal. If people don't like the law, they should get Congress to change it.
As a moderate, working in a world of liberals, I am troubled by the issue of 12-20-million illegals living in the United States. We have two very long and very uncontrolled boarders. We don't get a lot of unauthorized crossings from the north, though that boarder has tightened because of fears that people who wish to harm the country will take advantage of the thousands of miles of boarder in largely rural areas. The southern boarder has more fences and security- but still leaks like a sieve. No political power has ever had the guts to spend what is necessary to properly defend our southern boarder and the vast majority of our illegal aliens have entered there. Our neighbors to the north live in a prosperous, stable, lawful country and have fewer reasons to want to break into the US; our neighbors to the south experience relative poverty, brutality and instability. During the W years, we spent a fortune trying to create an electronic monitoring system on critical boarder zones, an effort that only succeeding at generating profits for the contractors that designed and built a system that didn't work.
I am troubled by allowing 12-20-million people who entered the country illegally remain, while millions of others world-wide wait for years, sometimes decades for permission to enter legally. I have asked people who immigrated legally how they feel about others jumping the line, and the answer if complicated. They frequently have friends or family who are in the country illegally that they don't want to have shipped home. This leads to a couple of issues. Families that are a mixture of legal and illegal - how do we ship out the illegals without breaking apart families. Few of those with legal status, are going to accompany their illegal family back to poverty. And how do we justify deporting people who are vital and productive parts of our communities and economy? Underlying this is the hard truth that without the 12-million plus illegals we would have critical labor shortages in agriculture, and some building trades.
We are a nation of laws. Among those laws are laws controlling entry to the country by non-citizens. Underlying all of this for me, is a personal value, that if you want to be a part of this civil society, you agree to comply with at least the majority of the laws - and especially the big ones. Legal status to be here is a big law. I am troubled by somehow overlooking the fact that 12-20-million people broke a significant law. They are by and large good people, but forgiving them, while holding others to the same law, seems wrong to me. Would I load 12,000,000 people on 747's and fly them home? I don't know. But how can we overlook breaking the law, by people who want to be here and be a part of a nation of laws? There is no easy answer on this issue.