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Voter-izing illegal immigrants

March 19, 2013

Let’s address and then get past the obvious conclusion that if we had secured our borders twenty years ago, we wouldn’t have 11.1 million illegal immigrants. We didn’t and they are here. Move on.

Let’s also get past the idea that we should only allow the “best and brightest” people to immigrate or remain here. I could support the notion of the hardest working and most reliable, but some elitist idea that we only need scientists or chemists or doctors ignores the reality that we still need mechanics, carpenters, plumbers and other blue-collar workers. I’m just fine with immigrants being the best darn groundskeepers or welders in town, if that is where they want to excel. If we are that desperate for well-educated white-collar professionals, then we certainly don’t need to be spending all the billions that we do on public education and propping up over-priced Ivy League colleges.

If we made securing gainful employment and becoming self-supporting after a certain length of time part of the path to citizenship, I think most people could support the idea. Oops, wait a minute. We can’t even enforce that requirement for the people who are native-born. Conversely, we seem to be doing everything we can to make it harder to be an employer in America. That brings up a new question as to why this sudden push to fix a problem that has been around seemingly forever.

The problem with legalizing illegal immigrants is that we don’t have a way for them to become and remain productive members of society. For some reason, there seems to be a total lack of discussion about where these folks are going to find good jobs, given that our economy is going nowhere. Legalizing them will not solve that problem. It will only exacerbate it and make more people legally eligible for higher levels of government assistance.

The most evident reason has nothing to do with benefitting either illegal immigrants or America. Call it what it is, voter-izing, not legalizing. Politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to be hell-bent on legalizing prospective voters, not prospective productive taxpayers and citizens. That’s the wrong motivation for dealing with the problem of illegal resident immigrants.

America used to be able to assimilate other cultures on the strength of their contribution to the overall economy and to the good of the nation. They prospered because the country prospered. That much-maligned idea that America is the land of opportunity, not the land of the government handout seemed to work well for about 180 years.

We need to make that our guiding principle again. We don’t need a vibrant black economy, or a Hispanic/Latino economy, or any other economy defined by ethnicity. We need a vibrant and healthy American economy that provides a place for all people to succeed and prosper.

When there are more jobs than there are people to fill them, then perhaps legalizing the current population of illegal immigrants might make sense. Until then, we are simply buying voters, instead of creating sensible methods and real motivation for people to want to become citizens. The current proposals seem to be the immigration version of “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it”. Surely, we can do better than that. 

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