The Real Immigration Issue

Cracking Down On Immigration Distracts From Economic Policy Failures

It is popular to suggest that the U.S. should aggressively pursue and deport illegal immigrants. It is not popular to suggest that immigration is inherently a peaceful activity, and that it is only a crime because Lyndon Johnson and his successors didn't want too many dark-skinned, non-European people coming here.

Prior to President Johnson's signature on the blatantly racist Immigration Act of 1965, the U.S./Mexico border had been essentially open. Mexican workers entered and left the country largely in response to supply and demand. The unintended result of this law (and subsequent - increasingly draconian - legislation) was to make border crossing so perilous for impoverished job-seekers that they stopped making the return trip home. Thus, by seeking to limit the "problem" of dark-skinned visitors from the south, lawmakers created the conditions that led to the long-term illegal immigrants about whom there is so much consternation.

More recently, in an attempt to prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining Medicaid, the 2006 Deficit Reduction Act created the stipulation that Medicaid applicants must provide "satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship." We don't have to look far to see the results of that ill-conceived law. On March 12 of this year, the New York Times reported that, "Georgia now has 100,000 newly uninsured U.S. citizen children of low-income families. Many of these children have missed immunizations and preventive health visits. And they have been admitted to hospitals and intensive care units for conditions that normally would have been treated in a doctor’s office." The same article went on to state that, across the nation, most of the applicants denied Medicaid due to the new regulations are children, and virtually all are U.S. citizens whose parents - for any number of reasons - simply don't have original birth certificates or passports for them. The effect on illegal immigrants (not to mention "Deficit Reduction") has been negligible.

When I eat at a locally-owned Mexican restaurant, I don't see immigrants stealing jobs and perpetrating violent crimes. I see people coming to this country, working hard, starting businesses, and pursuing the American Dream just as generations of immigrants to this country always have. I see children who are completely bilingual, and just as American in their attitudes as their classmates of Irish, Italian or English descent.

Immigration is not a problem, it is the source of our phenomenal success as a country. On the other hand, passing laws against peaceful activity doesn't solve issues, it creates them. The fastest way to stop illegal immigration would be to repeal the antiquated and largely racist quotas on immigration, and allow people who want to come to this country for a better life to do so legally.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty stands a plaque inscribed with words that summarized what our policy of immigration once was, and should be again: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door. In my humble opinion as a U.S. citizen (with documents to prove it), it's time to re-open the golden door.

Key Points

  • Immigration policies have a long history of racism.
  • Policies designed to be tough on illegal immigrants affect many innocent people.
  • Immigration has always been fundamental to America's prosperity.

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