If you have not read “On the immigration fence” by Sam Perkins today in the DTH, it is worth looking at. Perkins makes some good points about immigration, which is surprising given the slant DTH is known for. In his article Perkins discusses how granting amnesty to illegal immigrants could be a good idea but ultimately decides that the right way to immigrate is by honoring the legal process already in place. Immigration has been a hot debate in recent months. Stephen Colbert’s performance in-character on Capitol Hill has focused the media spotlight back on the issue.
So why shouldn’t amnesty be granted? First off, there will be a class action lawsuit filed against the US Government, with yours truly as one of the plaintiffs. In 2006 I personally sponsored my best friend’s immigration to the United States. Three years, multiple interviews, several trips to the US Embassy in his homeland, a couple of doctor visits and medical testing and, well over $5000 later, he was granted permanent residency status, good for ten years. Oh, and did I mention that as part of sponsoring him, I would be paying back to the government any public services he uses during the ten years? Yep, as a native-born US citizen sponsoring a foreigner, the only way in is through your pocketbook. Read this as a repayment of WIC, Welfare, Medicare, really any government assistant program he may go on in the next ten years.
Second, putting aside one’s morals for a moment, what sane person is going to go through all that when all you have to do is cross the border and have a child? The policy now is that you are not granted citizenship (even for immigrants married to a native-born US citizen) until you have been a permanent resident for at least three years and you have passed the citizenship test (if you’d like to try it, here’s the link). Also, permanent residency is granted based on a number of criteria which include the immigrant’s skill set, training and the availability of a green card. Only a set number of qualified immigrants are able to receive their permanent residency so that even if you have met the requirements, you may still have to wait. Even granting permanent residency rather than citizenship will place illegal immigrants in front of those who have paid and waited.
Third, from a National Security standpoint it is important to know who you have coming into the country. Part of the process to get permanent residency is a thorough background check of you and your sponsor(s). The government wants to make sure that there are no ties between the immigrant, their friends or relatives and anyone known to be a terrorist. Another part of the background check is to verify a known criminal is not about to enter our borders. As cumbersome as that process is, I have no problem with it. Why allow someone into our country who does not obey their own country’s laws? The point has to be made that even prison in the US is sometimes better than freedom in another country.
This is not to say that all immigrants are uneducated, criminal, impoverished individuals out to take advantage of the system. My best friend does not fall into that category at all. On the other hand, he immigrated legally. There are still many more reasons blanket amnesty should not be granted and we have certainly not covered the negative impact illegal immigrants have to our economy, though Perkins does mention a few in his article. I would be interested to see what points of reform new legislation will call for. Want to make the process less expensive? I’m for that. Want to end the ridiculous financial affidavits required to sponsor someone? Personally I’d love that, but they certainly stand as a deterrent. Want to grant amnesty to the illegal immigrants? Then I want my time and money back.