Friday, December 30, 2005

Illegal Immigration

I am not quite sure where the latest round of immigrant bashing has come from. Perhaps it's the fruit of our President's actions to stoke xenophobia within our great nation despite his words of support for immigrant populations. At least when the GOP went after gays in 2004, it was a direct response to Lawrence v. Texas decriminalizing consensual sodomy and the Massachusetts decision legalizing gay marriage. The last I checked, Hispanic immigrants haven't done anything to warrant the attention being thrust upon them.

Personally, I don't understand the long term strategy of bashing immigrants. Yes, illegal immigration is a problem. You cannot live in Atlanta and not realize that illegal immigrants are everywhere. They are taking jobs that no other American will do, and they are being paid basically slave wages. Except when you are from Mexico and have nothing, slave wages in the US looks pretty good. Employers like them because they don't have to pay them taxes and they can treat them any way they like, because the illegals won't complain for fear of deportation. For years, the emphasis has been on making life miserable for the illegal immigrant. Denying them access to drivers' licenses, bank accounts, etc have been commonplace. The latest moves by the GOP focus on denying the children of illegal immigrants access to schools and health care.

I know that the children of illegal immigrants are flouting our nation's immigration laws. However, they do not have a choice in the matter. When their parents drag them across the border, they have to go. Punishing the children, making sure they don't receive basic health care or education, serves little purpose. Yes, they aren't truly entitled to these things, but what happened to basic compassion? The last thing we need in America is a group of children who are uneducated out on the streets. I would rather see illegal immigrant children in school, learning English, and becoming valuable members of society.

Yet, their parents are here illegally, and we cannot just reward them for that. I would propose leaving the laws on immigration just as they are. Let's turn our focus to the economic system that allows the illegal immigrant system to flourish. We need to turn our attention to the employers of the illegals. Even day workers should have proof of citizenship to work. There should be more inspectors to bust the operations and employers who skirt the laws and hire on the black market of illegal immigrants. The fines, and jail time, should be severe enough to discourage current practices, and the enforcement should be beefed up so that it's difficult to get away with what goes on now.

But seriously, let's leave the kids of illegal immigrants alone. They aren't here by choice, but by virtue of a decision their parents made. I don't know the answer to making the parents responsible for their illegal immigration. If we use the medical and school systems to catch illegal immigrants, it will have the same effect as an outright ban. Here in Atlanta, the fear that immigration will find out about you if you open a bank accounts leads many illegals to keep money at their home. Robbers know this, and there are countless stories of victimization in the complexes where illegals live. Yet, these stories are largely word of mouth, because the illegals won't report a robbery to the police for fear of deportation.

Building walls or enacting codes like the one in Manassas, VA ( which blatantly target Hispanics, both illegal and legal, is not the way to go. Yet, that is what the GOP seems to think will help them win in 2006. My only consolation is that while they beat up immigrants, they won't be going after gays. Still, that's a cold comfort, because I know that if the attack on illegals doesn't work, then they will come after gays again.

I just hope America wakes up to the danger that total GOP control poses to our Nation and way of life before it's too late.

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