Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Re: Law Enforcement and Illegal Aliens (Part II)

I agree with Joe's contention that turning cops into INS agents will discourage the "invisible" illegal immigrants from seeking police protection, and that is a bad thing. But I place greater emphasis on the point that Joe only glosses over--how we should address illegal immigration in the first place. Enforcing immigration laws would not be so hard if we were serious about doing it. If the Government imposed strict penalties on anyone employing an illegal alien, then those seeking a better life in America simply would not find the better life they were looking for, and go home. But several industries are dependent on the low-wage labor that illegal immigrants provide, so the Government looks the other way.

Joe approaches the question from the perspective that illegal immigrants are here, and argues that we must find a way to deal with them until better immigration enforcement is put in place. From that standpoint, I agree that all individuals within our borders deserve certain rights and police protection is certainly a basic right. But what about education? And health care? I see those as tougher issues because people might cross into our country just to receive the basic entitlements afforded to everyone within our borders, even if they could not secure employment. So long as the grass is greener, people will come. So we would need to monitor our borders in conjunction with imposing strict penalties on employers of illegal immigrants if we are really serious about keeping those people out that we don't want here.

What I find missing in most discussions of illegal immigration is the point that our nation is made up of immigrants (mostly). We have wrongly turned our back on those seeking a better life, instead of trying to find ways to give them that better life. How do we accomplish that goal while maintaining a high quality of life for those of us already here? That to me is the real challenge.

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