There is absolutely no question that the immigration laws of the United States need to be reformed.
Some people think they should be tougher, some easier for immigrants to enter the country, but whatever the law is, we think it should at least be enforced. Right now, way too many people, from the government to private business, are avoiding following the law, which among other things, says you have to show you are an American citizen or are in the country legally before you can get a job. But most of the illegal immigrants are working as businesses turn a blind eye to the law.
Somewhere between 10-12 million people in this country (nobody is really precisely certain) are not here legally.
We have a huge border that couldn't be secured even if we took every member of the U.S. Army and assigned them to border security (to heck with our obligations elsewhere in the world). Our army isn't big enough and activating National Guard troops has economic implications that aren't great.
We have always prided ourselves on the fact that we are a shining beacon for the "tired and huddled masses" of refugees fleeing to our shores for a better life.
That's what we say, but in fact, we've never really liked immigrants.
Historically, from Catholics to Irish to Germans to Italians to anybody from Asia and now Hispanics from south of the border, every wave of immigration has faced opposition and restrictive laws.
Every wave has changed the cultural landscape of this country and faced opposition from those who don't want their world to change.
Every wave has been accused of taking jobs from "real Americans."
Every wave has been accused of needing some kind of assistance from the government or society.
And those charges have always been true. Yet, they've also created the "melting pot" that makes our nation so diverse and so unique, and they've often provided an energy to our country, as they fight for their share of the American dream, that has helped raise this nation to the premier position it holds in the world today.
So there are pluses and minuses.
But what we can't have are a set of unrealistic, poorly drafted, often vindictive sets of immigration laws that really do nothing to control the flow of people into this country.
We have to work with other nations south of our border, especially those that have become narco-states, to bring into check the violence and corruption, and end the abject poverty, that drives these people to our borders. A dollar spent in Mexico to keep a person there goes a lot farther than a dollar spent in the U.S. to keep that person out.
We also need some version of the DREAM Act, so that children of illegals, who have grown up almost their entire life with no memory of anything other than being an American, can be recognized as such and not punished for the sins of their parents.
We need a way to expand "green card" programs so people don't feel the need to enter this nation illegally. Illegals are disproportionately preyed upon by criminal elements because they fear having any contact with police, including reporting crimes against them. That allows criminal elements to flourish, unpunished.
And while we can't patrol every foot the border, we do need more border patrol agents and improved surveillance systems along the border to help catch those trying to enter our country illegally. Plus, we need a streamlined system for returning them to their native countries, and those countries need to pay for at least some of the costs of doing so (which might give them an incentive to improve their own border security).
But what we can't do is just sit around beating our breasts and trying to make political hay out of the problem while actually doing nothing. The GOP leadership in the House is accusing the president of sitting on his thumbs (or suing him if he doesn't), but has vowed there will be no movement on immigration reform this year.
Yet, there must be. Every day we put off taking action the problem gets worse.
This shouldn't be about getting elected. It should be about fixing a problem, and both the president and both houses of Congress must make this a priority issue.
-- Kelly Everitt