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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

12 Million Human Beings

All men are children, and of one family. The same tale sends them all to bed, and wakes them in the morning. (Thoreau)

Newton Gingrich, during the National Security Debate, took a valiant stance when asked about the undocumented immigrants in this country. He advocated AGAINST deportation, the official Republican position, citing humane considerations. It may cost him some points in the race for the White House, but one has to admire his gumption and audacity. To begin with, he will certainly gain the favor of Hispanic groups who are tired of waiting for the Democrats to show some backbone and present a comprehensive immigration bill. The former Speaker (I'm tired of people calling him Mr. Speaker after more than 10 years of leaving the post) surprised everybody and once again took the limelight in the debate.

I remember talking to old, very old Mexicans many years ago and asking them about the border with the U.S. They were adults when Porfirio Diaz, the Mexican dictator, was still in control. They spoke with nostalgia of walking into American border towns to buy a few trinkets with nary a custom agent in sight. In those days, the border was more a line on the map than a reality on the ground. Today, of course, it has become an object of contention due to the threat of terrorism and drug cartels. Some Mexican friends who came over for a visit on November 20 (a holiday in Mexico) complained that a checkpoint manned by the Mexican army delayed them for 2 hours before reaching the bridge. That's how bad it is on the other side.

This lengthy historical introduction has one purpose: Mexicans were here long before the White Man took over. Latino last names such as Martinez and Hernandez are just as American as Sandford and Smith. Yes, the Alamo still rankles in our minds as a mindless massacre and a heroic stance by a few Texans, but the days of hostility and resentment are over; at least, they should be when we consider how much the Hispanic community has contributed to this country which is also THEIRS. The two countries, the U.S. and Mexico are joined at the hip by a 3,000 miles border and by a common history of trade and cultural exchange. Thousands of American families live in the Aztec country where life is cheaper and simpler. Thousands of retired winter Texans still go to Mexican border towns to get cheaper medical treatment and drugs. We cannot undo centuries of blood ties with the stroke of the pen.

Deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants would be, first of all, totally impossible; the logistics are simply too complex. When we stuck Japanese-Americans in concentration camps at the beginning of WWII, a blot on our country's history of compassion and tolerance, we had to deal with far fewer human beings who were betrayed by their Asian factions. Today, identifying people by their last name or their skin color as potential illegal aliens would be unacceptable racial profiling, an action that has taken place in Arizona numerous times while harassing legitimate American citizens. I can just imagine the plethora of lawsuits against the government, all paid by our dwindling tax dollars. In addition, the world at large would condemn our lack of compassion; we can scarcely afford more damage to our reputation.

There are better ways to enforce immigration laws; we could offer a monetary incentive to return to their country of origin; we could offer citizenship to mothers with children born in this country; we could allow the brainiest young people without documents to earn their green cards (Dream Act) the American Way, by joining the Peace Corps for 2 years; we could offer citizenship to young men willing to join the military for 5 years; we could reignite the bracero program by allowing illegal aliens to work for 6 months in agriculture if they pledge to return to their countries the other 6 months; we could allow green cards for those who have been here for more than 10 years and who have been model citizens.

Let's accept the fact that undocumented aliens have always been (in our modern history) a part of our work force. Even if we could deport all of them, most would find a way back. We cannot secure the border against illegal immigration, that's a pipe dream. Let's concentrate on the real problem: drugs and terrorists.

1 comment:

Elena said...

Well defined, well said and excellent examples for resolving the problem!!!! Hello Washington, is anyone listening? Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty together again! Our nation needs a face lift and one way would be to treat others as you would like to be treated(the golden rule) Loved the article - bravo, bravisimo!