Immigration: The Positives and the Problems Part 1
It is unfortunate that the current economic woes of the United States serves to obscure the issue of America's immigration problem. The highs and lows of Wall Street are only symptoms; they can only point to problems that are foundational. You cannot fix the economy by fixating on the fluttering of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. You can, however, begin an economic recovery by concentrating on the working and living conditions of the people who live in and contribute to the economics of the country. The people of a country are, after all, the country's most valuable resource. Therefore, immigration is a foundational issue, not a symptomatic one.
Immigration is a boon to any country. There is not a single business in the United States this is not dependent upon immigration for growth, success, and innovation. Immigrants bring with them a vitality and perspective that native citizens sometimes lack. They are an adventurous sort and visionary. They are a people willing to leave behind all that is familiar and beloved in order to build a new life for themselves and for their families. They are highly motivated, resourceful, and willing to sacrifice for success. Any country that doesn't have a healthy influx of immigrants is a country on the decline and is in danger of stagnation.
Unregulated immigration, however, can cause serious problems for a country. Even the Boar's Nest of Hazzard County charged $1.00 cover to keep out the riffraff. If a country has unregulated immigration, there is nothing to keep the unsavory sorts from entering the country at will. Such people come, not with the intent of building a life for themselves, but rather they come to exploit the native populations through criminal activity. This serves to give the rest of the immigrant population a bad name, and it makes their dream of integrating with the native population very difficult.
This is the dilemma that faces the United States. Our borders are not secure. This allows anyone access to the country. Hence, illegal immigration is a real problem. What good does it do to deport someone from the country when the back door is wide open? Deportation and the threat of deportation is like a rubber-toothed bulldog: it sounds mean but it lacks any real bite.
In fact, illegal immigration does not simply aggravate natural citizens. It aggravates legal immigrants. In fact, some of the people most passionately against illegal immigration are naturalized citizens. They recognize that illegal immigrants give them a bad name, and it is galling to the naturalized citizen that they had to learn the language, pay for the proper paper work, and work hard to earn their right to be here; only to face discrimination and suspicion because of law-breakers from their own native countries who came here illegally.
There are layers of problems to the United States' immigration woes. First, the border is insecure, making deportation a lousy deterrent. Secondly, we actually need immigrant labor, and legal immigration is currently so difficult that we cannot get people here properly to fill the jobs. Thirdly, we have to realize the temptation to jump the border is overwhelming. Why would someone wait years and go through all the red tape, monetary outlay, and rank bribery required when they can get across the border more easily by sneaking? You don't believe that the red tape is real? Why on earth would a sane person pay a "coyote", who is basically a thug, thousands of dollars to sneak them across the border if it were easier to go through legal channels?
In the next post, I'll try to go through some of the challenges that we face regarding illegal immigration. In this discussion, we must always keep one thing very much in the forefront: We are talking about real people. People with hopes, families, and dreams to make a better life for themselves. Yes, some illegal immigrants are drug running criminals, but it has to be a small minority or we would be in a much worse condition that the one we now face.
I am a pastor serving in my hometown of Albertville, Alabama. The greatest evidence of God's grace in my life are my wife, son, and daughter. One look at me and then my wife will tell you that her "yes" was a modern day miracle. Otherwise, I am almost completely mundane.