our culpability in the illegal immigration debate
This editorial is an opinion publication for the Daily Camera published on 19 April 2013
America has a problem with them, but they are not the problem. They are invisible, yet they surround us. They put our fruit and vegetables on our tables, but we seldom say “thank you.” They pay taxes, yet they will never collect Social Security. They clean our homes and dig our ditches, yet we would never lower ourselves to do the same. They are never “unemployed,” yet we consider them to be financial burdens. They keep the nation of America young, as America ages. We call them illegal, yet we accept the contributions they make to our lifestyle as our legal right.
Our lives would be worse without their labors. They didn’t cross over to illegal status until we employed them and then couldn’t do without them because we needed their labor. So, they stayed to help us. If they are illegal, does that make us accomplices to their crime?
Our refusal to look them squarely in the eye has brought our country to a stalemate. If we don’t acknowledge our role in this problem, there’s no way we can solve it. This dilemma is decades old, but it wasn’t until 2007 that Congress tackled it. Then, President Bush pushed for reform, but many Democrats and Republicans pushed back harder. The Democrats, including President Obama, voted against reform: they didn’t want it because the unions didn’t want it. The Republicans didn’t want it because it might lead to amnesty. Political dysfunction won the day; nothing got passed. Recently, I spoke to an “illegal” friend to get an immigrant’s point of view. Most came to the U.S. legally. Once here, they easily found employment and because of their work ethic and frugal lifestyle, they saved most of their earnings. Often, they work seven days a week at two or more jobs.
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