Over the last 20 years, immigration has been the most  discussed issue in the United States. While it seems to come and go as a front burner issue, it still percolates as a back burner issue. It is easy  to see why people want to come here, because for all its faults, the United States is the best place to live.
      The most basic duty of any government is to protect its citizens and secure its borders. Historically, the northern and southern borders of the United States have been somewhat porous. The Canadian border has been hailed as the longest undefended border in the world. Due to the history of wars, the Mexican border --  while      largely undefended -- has been more closely guarded.
      Illegal immigration has always been with us, but until now, it was a relatively minor problem. With the large influx of " illegals" -- mostly Mexicans -- the issue of illegal immigration is again on the front burner.
      About 20 years ago, President Reagan signed an immigration bill that gave amnesty to certain illegal immigrants. This was supposed to cure the problem of illegal immigration. Twenty years later, it is worse than ever. The issue is not simple and thus there is an emotional debate going on.
      Conditions in Mexico are terrible. Mexicans need work. They risk everything to come over here to serve as cheap labor. Generally,  they cause no trouble. On the other hand, because of their first lawless act in coming here illegally, they are at a great disadvantage. Many want  to stay here and bring their families, again illegally, thus compounding the problem. Other major problems noted of late are the [alleged] importing  of violent Latin American gangs, the illegal documents trade, the drug  trade, and illegal voting.
      America works best when its immigrants assimilate into its culture and contribute to its well being. It is hard to  figure out whether illegal immigrants want to assimilate. Because conditions in their original countries are so bad, it seems that these workers prefer to work in the United States almost like willing slaves!
      Now we are again debating the amnesty question. Should we be rewarding illegal behavior again? If so, why have any laws? Asian immigrants, by and large, have emigrated legally. We have waited, filled out the paper      work and jumped through the hoops until we obtained our legal immigrant status and then on to citizenship. As legal immigrants, we have to wonder why we went through the trouble of doing it correctly, while illegal immigrants are being rewarded for their lawless act. To me the solution consists of first securing our borders and then figuring out how to deal with the illegal immigrant population.  Unless we are secure in "our house," we will cease being a country.
The great immigration debate
by John S. Pinto
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July 2006 Issue Preview