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Immigration is Good, What is the Problem?

October 8, 2015
Plain English Version

OCTOBER 28, 2011. ATHENS, GEORGIA. Miriam Hernandez, 16 works in an Athens, Georgia restaurant to support her handicapped mother and 2 younger siblings. Her biological dad was killed in a work accident and her mother’s second husband deported himself to El Salvador. Besides waiting tables, the high school junior cleans houses to pay the bills. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

One view of the undocumented goes like this. The people crossing the border chose to come to the U.S. They were not chosen by the United States. That means this country does not know who they are. Are they bringing diseases? Are they criminals? Could some be terrorists?

When they arrive here, they will work at jobs for wages that are lower than the wages Americans will accept. That means they are filling jobs Americans could have filled.

Since they are here on their own, they may not “assimilate” into the American culture. They may, or they may not, share this country’s values.

In short, an uncontrolled border is regarded as a threat to the well-being of the nation. The argument goes on. Most nations do not have birthright citizenship. Most nations make securing their borders a high priority.

The U.S., for its part, does not enforce its laws very well. Travelers who come to America on visas often overstay their visits. Employers find ways to get around laws that make them learn the legal status of their workers.

In general, people in the U.S. support legal immigration. They know the value immigrants bring to all walks of life. It is truly said that America is a land of immigrants.

The big question is how to reform the system of immigration. Our representatives in Washington do not seem up to the task. The president tried to give legal status to some groups. The federal courts stopped him.

Is there any way to go forward? This is a period of change. Migrants are testing the limits of European nations to absorb newcomers. In the U.S. many have said we know we have problems, but we also know we have solutions. There is no choice but to fix it. We do not hear the best ideas about how to do that in a calm atmosphere.

Until we do, everything about the status of the undocumented will stay uncertain and unresolved. Advocacy helps. Voting power helps. But it will take political leadership to make the changes that are needed.

Source: The New York Times October 6, 2015

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