Published Brownsville Herald July 18, 2011
I have been re-reading many opinions related to immigration issues and listening to many that on other issues I usually agree with. One in particular is the excellent article some years ago in The Brownsville Herald titled “Immigrants still wanted in hard times.” Mr. Ruben Navarrette hit the nail on the head when he said that “what Americans should know by now, even if some are reluctant to admit it: Immigrants were an undeniable and indispensable factor in the nation’s economic growth over the past decades.”
Many blame foreigners for many of our social ills. Such isolationism and scapegoating frightens me enormously. These perceptions frequently have preceded wars and some of the most embarrassing reactions in our history. Who wants to see a re-enactment of the incarceration of the Japanese in World War II or similar obscenities toward other national groups?
There are calls to close our borders to all “foreigners” and install martial law in the name of security. This scares me because our national survival depends on the infusion of new peoples to our “melting pot” and to continuously remember how our country was formed in the first place. Most new immigrants improve our work force with new enthusiasm and reinforce our understanding of how bad it could be, with stories of what caused them to come here seeking a better life and new opportunities.
The United States is in dire need of an immigration policy that is fair and implemented uniformly and efficiently. Our current approach is none of these.
Much of the problem can be attributed to a current chaos in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, the enormous influence of powerful ethnic, religious, commercial and social interest groups interferes with administrative action and can contribute to corruption. This influence frequently affects how officers and administrators do their jobs if they fear criticism from higher-ups or the public can hurt their career.
Currently, numbers of legal immigrants are allocated based on national origin and humanitarian policies set by Congress and administered by the State Department. Applicants must meet obstacles of a difficult bureaucracy, and wait years to be considered for admission to the U.S. Even a newly married spouse could wait months if not years to enter this country.
Many who attempt to do things legally grow frustrated when there is a new movement to legitimatize those who entered illegally. They believe criminals who entered illegally are further delaying their entry own and opportunity.
I suggest that all people entering the U.S. for residency, other than to join family members as refugees, etc., be granted temporary resident status with employment authorization for a determined period, after which they could apply for permanent residency or return to their place of origin. Any undocumented worker currently in the U.S. for one year could also be granted temporary residency without affecting any quotas in effect. Any temporary resident seeking public assistance other than a benefit to which he contributed such as unemployment insurance could be asked to return to his place of origin, without prejudice and able reapply at a later date. After permanent residence is established, limited public benefits could be granted. In both cases anyone being found guilty of a violent felony or misdemeanor involving violence or fraud could be deported without the opportunity for reapplication.
The criteria for admission and escalation at each level must be clear with little opportunity for loose interpretation, and adequate resources must be made available for the enforcement of the rules.
All temporary or permanent residents would be considered to be working toward U.S. citizenship within specific timeframes, with rights and benefits increasing at each level. A temporary resident would be automatically considered for permanent residence within 5 years and for citizenship within 2 subsequent years.
Should the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen be rejected at that time, the status could be returned to temporary worker and the cycle begun again.
This would ensure that all would get an even shake and provide a reasonable opportunity for new arrivals to demonstrate their worthiness to stay in the United States and their ability to contribute without becoming a drain on the community.
Because you are asking to live here in the United States you must believe as we do that we have a scrupulously fair system of laws that are proven to work well for the United States and that we should not need to be confronted with another, like the Islamic Sharia law. Immigrants, not Americans, must adapt. We are tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture.