Immigration Reform 2009: Take Action Now!

© 2009 Peter J. Loughlin & Thomas W. Goldman

Coming up with a comprehensive immigration reform bill that serves our national security and economic interests and without giving away too much amnesty, remains a major issue of contention. We realize that there are strong emotions on both fronts, but ignoring a problem will, as it always does, make the problem worse.

When we stop to consider the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S, we don’t think it un-American to ask how they got here in the first place. Certainly those who crossed our borders illegally must have known they were breaking the law, right? Well perhaps, but we’re not so sure it’s as simple as all that. For example, you know you are breaking the law when you drive and exceed the speed limit, but aren’t there are times when you just go with the flow of traffic—hey, we all know it’s wrong but we are willing to take that risk from time to time. And where’s the highway patrol anyway? Why weren’t they making a greater effort to stop us if they really wanted to curb speeding, right?

Admittedly this example is an oversimplification taken to the extreme, but it is one to which most of us can relate. But don’t you think that is sort of what the illegal aliens may have been thinking when they crossed the border into the U.S. All levity aside, where was the Border Patrol Agents and why weren’t they making a greater effort to stop them if they really wanted to curb the growing problem of illegal aliens. We have the greatest admiration for or nation’s law enforcement officers, but it appears there’s been a long-term tacit policy afoot to leave the door open just a bit.

There is a popular illustrative tort case used by law professors, I think it’s called Rocker v. State. In any event, at issue was the principle of the “well worn path” which essentially made a land owner liable to trespassers on his land where he or she knew or should have know of their presence because of the well worn path they left behind from their daily trespass.

May we suggest here for a moment that our Mexican border shows ample signs of a well worn path? And don’t you agree that our government’s policy on overstays may have also cut a sizable swatch as well. May we further suggest that we all own up to that fact that we as a nation share some responsibility for the problem? Sorry, we know it’s a difficult pill to swallow, but it is the sociopolitical inconvenient truth of the day.

So, what can we do about it? The first thing to do is to admit we have a problem—and that we may be at least partially responsible for causing the problem in the first place. We’re not suggesting the illegal immigrants have no responsibility for their actions, we’re just saying we as a country played a part in it, that’s all. AND, of the two, that is, us or them, we’re in a much better position to fix things, aren’t we?

The next thing to do is to take real steps toward stopping the relentless incoming tide of new illegal immigrants entering every single day? We’d be a lot better off in this post 911 world knowing that not just anybody can enter the U.S. with little fear of being stopped—that’s just plain unacceptable. We will leave it to those better capable to implement an effective solution. Whether it be stone walls, drones, barbed wire or a combination, let’s find something that works and do it. Others have made an argument that this would be tantamount to building a Berlin Wall, but that’s just nonsense, the fact is we need more effective border control.

We then need to do something with the millions illegal that are already here. All this talk of amnesty being unacceptable is understandable, but when you realize that there is no way to deport the mass of illegal immigrants already here, you have to face the fact that we need to do something to sort out, qualify and assimilate these people in a controlled setting. Certainly you cannot just hand everyone a green card. But let’s forget for a moment the semantics of whether or not it’s amnesty, legalization or whatever label they come up with. Perhaps it is some form of amnesty, perhaps it isn’t, but one thing’s for sure, taking steps to get these folks out of the shadows is the only solution.

Pure amnesty is forgiveness for entering, remaining in, and working in the country illegally without any penalties. President Obama has stated that he doesn’t support outright amnesty and neither do we. But let’s be sensible, what we are really talking about is compromise. The whole issue of immigration reform is, in the end, one of compromise—and compromise is always borne of necessity—and we need to fix the current immigration system. Surely illegal immigrants will walk away with benefits, some of which admittedly may be a form of amnesty, but we also have an opportunity to correct an ineffective immigration system that is not working. With compromise both parties walk get to away from the table with some tangible benefit.

Finally, we need to keep the pressure on Congress to enact immigration reform that will serve our nation’s national security interests and offer a fair solution to the mass of illegal immigrants already in our economy and culture. But we need not do this in one fell swoop. Since comprehensive immigration reform failed in the past, maybe we should start enacting it piece-by-piece. ( This way we can at least move in a positive direction while giving Congress and the nation an opportunity to better explore the more contentious issues—it’s certainly better than doing nothing. No matter which side of the aisle or argument you may sit, I urge you to work toward a improving our immigration system. Immigration reform is an issue that cannot be ignored.

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