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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Immigration reform should not be politicized

The most recent battle-cry of the Talk Radio Conservative Coalition (my new nickname for the right-wing nutters of Mississippi) is immigration reform.

I'll grant you that we need to look at our immigration laws. We have too many undocumented workers in this nation, and our borders can pose a serious security threat if left unregulated. But this battle should not be politicized. We're not talking about terrorists or thieves or violent criminals. We're talking about human beings who come to this country looking for a better life and are willing to work for it.

Thus comes Rep. Mike Lott and his anti-immigration bills.
Illegal-immigrant bills draw critics - The Clarion-Ledger:
Rep. Mike Lott, R-Petal, proposed several bills aimed at stopping illegal immigration into Mississippi.

"If you come to this country (illegally), Mississippi is not where you want to be," Lott said before the hearing.

One advocate, Christal Luna-Guerra of Sumrall, said some people want undocumented workers to clean houses and work in fast-food stores but don't want them to stay. "When we don't need them anymore, sweep them under the rug," Luna-Guerra said.
This hearing reportedly got ugly. One reason is the insensitivity of Lott, which was pointed out to him. He used the term "anchor baby," a term that refers to a child born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants. The child, according to the 14th Amendment (that's the U.S. Constitution, mind you), is a legal resident of the U.S. and should be granted all rights and privileges that comes with being an American citizen.
Luna-Guerra took issue with Lott's phrase "anchor babies."

Her late husband was from Mexico, and their daughter, Tina, is 28.

"I resent having my child being referred to as an anchor baby," Luna-Guerra said.
Lott uses the term disparagingly, whether on purpose or not. At the very least, it shows he does not have an understanding of the sensitive nature of the immigration debate. At the most, it shows he doesn't care.

The truth is simple: Mississippi's economy would hurt if we enacted the anti-immigration laws proposed by many Republicans and even some Democrats. Take the poultry and sweet potato industries. These two agriculture industries thrive on immigrant labor.

And people need to understand what is meant when these "illegal aliens" are discussed. These are men and women who work hard, often for long hours in sub-par conditions and for low wages. They live in small homes with four, five and six people to a room. They send money home. They form communities and often are law-abiding citizens. They pay sales taxes and pump money into local economies. They are largely people of devout faith, mostly Catholic, but with strong memberships in Presbyterian and Methodist churches as well. In most respects, they are much like everyone else.

Building a wall and shipping people home by the truckloads is inhumane and counterproductive to our economy and our heritage. We are the land of promise and of freedom. Our business climate has created this problem, and we should not be swift to punish the wrong parties.

To shroud this problem in a fiscal argument is irresponsible and purposefully misleading. We will have these people work for our businesses, but we will not ensure they are healthy and that their children can be educated? The truth is that we are using immigration as a scapegoat to the larger problem: our health care system in America is broken and our educational system is being neglected.

We need to look at commonsense immigration reform that allows undocumented workers to become U.S. citizens. If they are guilty of nothing more than seeking a better life for themselves and their families, then we should welcome them into our society. Otherwise, if we seek to punish someone, then punish the industries who created the demand for immigrant workers and often facilitate the "illegal" immigration process.

In the end, we must remember that our nation is one founded on immigration. We should protect our land from those who try to harm us, but not from those who want to help create communities, to work an honest day and to live a better life.

3 Comments:

Tired Immigrant said...

Good post. However, don't be fooled by the "unsafe borders" talk. The fact is that if immigration of the millions of Mexicans is made legal, they wouldn't be sneaking across. Anyone who then tried to do so would stick out like a sore thumb -- as would drug-smugglers and the like.

So, legalizing the illegals and increasing the immgration quota, particularly for Mexicans is actually an essential part of the solution to a safer border.

1/26/2006 06:26:52 AM  
Katie's Dad said...

Dang. No trackbacks. What a pity.

Unabashedly Unhyphenated: Fisking Mississipi

1/28/2006 02:39:11 PM  
LClardy said...

Luna-Guerra should be one of the first ones to be sent back to Mexico. The USA's Economy would be better off if all these Illegals were here Legally to work the fields. The problem is that they come here and take jobs that Americans would do. They do sent money back to what they still refer to as their homes. They do not want to assimulate into this country.One out of every crime is commited by an illegal. A large number do not pay any tax but sales tax.Our health care system and education system is broken in a large part due to the illegals. If the money given to the illegals for every thing from food to education was spent on our legal health care and education then our system would be better off. Illegals are breaking the laws; What part of that do people not understand? If a United States Citizen breaks the law the party will be punish under th U.S. Laws. If someone breaks into my house I have the right to shoot them. I believe the same should be true to our borders. Illegals will make this country of ours a third world country. They refuse to assimulate into this country Legally. Millions are allowed into this country every year. We need to cut those numbers down as well. "God Bless America"

10/29/2006 03:02:14 PM  

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