"Border security" is a bogus holdup for immigration reform. Let us prevent this worthy legislation from becoming a giant rip-off benefitting the military-intelligence industry.
Millions of people in this country have paid a deplorable price for surreptitious border passage. So-called "coyotes" have extracted up to $10,000 per person per trip; yet these victims have been subjected to mass murders, tortures, locked vans abandoned in deserts, kidnappings and rape.
Why does anyone assume that coyotes act independently of the heavily armed cartels in their nearly sovereign territories?
One proposed immigration strategy suggests we should punish the victims by imposing a bureaucratic maze that demeans low-wage earners in their quest for a path to citizenship (likely to result in denying ultimate citizenship to about half of the 11 million). Already these "America seekers" have historical reasons to doubt the decency of our immigration laws.
For about 100 years immigration law has been designed as a vehicle for discrimination by race, national origin and religion, first against Orientals; then Irish, Italians, Roman Catholics, Eastern Europeans and now Hispanics.
These millions of oppressed, often scared people came here because our kids are too few, too clueless and too lazy as a result of our entitlement culture that compels them to avoid competition or lower themselves to start work at the bottom, where labor demand still exists. We penalize immigrants because these go-getters would not wait the 20-plus years necessary to get consulate visa approval. They have observed the easier paths offered to rich aliens and highly-skilled professionals, which is antithetical to our constitutional notion of equal protection.
The Congressional Budget Office has determined that increased amounts of federal taxation gained by legalizing these immigrants dwarfs the amount of welfare, education and healthcare costs often trumpeted as being stolen by illegal immigrants.
We can also have big gains in GDP, Social Security payers and small business initiatives. Our country's aging population could benefit from younger, family-oriented, procreative, hard-working, Christian immigrants.
The answer to uncontrolled immigration is to take new immigrants out of the shadows and work with them to make repatriation an orderly legal process if our employers cannot support them. Making our government bureaucrats the enemy, like the IRS and the ICE, is the wrong model.
Why not give these seekers a dignified hand up and try to persuade them that true American citizenship can be gained for turning on their former coyote tormenters? Together, we can use American ingenuity to protect their relatives back home and reduce the profits of drug suppliers.
In 2008, I won a closely contested Republican primary over an anti-immigrant opponent. Republicans and all Americans are now waiting for common sense and decency to prevail.
Jon Larson is Fayette County judge-executive.