Thursday, February 21, 2013

Give Me Your Tired...

I've never taken a huge interest in politics.  Around election time, when debates are in full swing, I'll take part in discussions about issues I feel are relevant, but I honestly don't care much about who is in charge for 2 main reasons.

First, by the time we get down to 2 leading candidates, I typically don't like either of them.  The leading candidates get to where they are because they follow party lines, not because they have particularly good ideas (which leads me to my second reason).

Second, I don't like party lines.  It seems that more and more the 2 major parties (and the candidates who best represent them) try to artificially differentiate themselves from one another.  Once you read between the lines, they agree on 90% of the issues, yet they focus on the other 10% by trying to downgrade the competitor's position and separate themselves from it as much as possible.  The result gives us the option to choose between 2 extremes, and personally, I think there are great solutions right down the middle of the road.

Today, I just want to focus on one political topic, which was inspired by this blog post:

Announcing Our New American Citizen

There's always talk about our borders, especially here in Texas.  The typical response is complaints about all the "illegals" who work under the table, so that they don't pay taxes yet still reap the benefits of living under our government.  Honestly, it's a real problem.  Especially when you look at the budget dollars spent to build our roads, police our streets, and defend our country, and compare it to the near-zero tax dollars paid by those with cash-only income and no social security number.

However, and I want to be very clear here, this is the ONLY problem with illegal immigration today.

When people get into rant mode over issues like this, they tend to get into all kinds of things that seem to rationalize their opinion.  But these are not problems on their own.  In fact, any one of us could find the holes in these theories that debunk the statements completely, we just get sucked in by the original argument and let ourselves assume that the additional points are true enough.

Rather than arguing over the problem, though, let's talk about the solutions.  The most often heard solution is closing our borders more tightly to new immigrants, usually coupled with deporting illegal immigrants.  This would clear out the "problem people" at a pretty high cost to the government, and we would get to pay the taxes to support their efforts until it finally paid off.

The other solution is one people don't seem to talk about: granting them citizenship (or at least the right to earn a paycheck).  Now I'm not saying we should ask the government to approach every illegal immigrant and hand them a free pass, but the system right now is more akin to defending yourself in court.  Think about it, it's easier to get your driver's license, a document that allows you to operate the type of vehicle that contributes to tens of thousands of deaths every year, than to move across the border!  All this does is deter people from pursuing legal immigration.

So, what if we make the path to citizenship a little easier?

First, if immigrants had the legal right to work, they would start paying taxes!  (honestly it wouldn't be 100%, but the percentage would increase drastically from the current 0%)  Suddenly, tax revenue would increase, spending would increase (with all the new jobs available to the newly-legal immigrants), and because legal immigration is easier, the government would have to put fewer resources to guard borders against illegal immigration.  Since the number of people earning unreported income would decline, it would even be easier for law enforcement to address the issue of wages paid under the table.

Second, we just have to look at our roots.  Very few of us are truly "native" Americans.  The ones who are native were mistreated for centuries before we tried to bring them into equality.  So, do you know what that makes the rest of us?  Immigrants!  Your ancestors earned the rights to citizenship by traveling here from somewhere else and asking for it.  There's even a big plaque under a huge statue in New York that reads "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," a longstanding call to people of oppressed nations to come find better life here.

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to read the post linked above, because this is the fuel for my fire today.  Here's the Cliff's Notes version.

The woman who writes this blog has 2 children who were adopted.  One of them is 6 years old and was adopted 3 years ago from another country (not sure which).  With his adoption finalized, their son Kembe has all the rights of their biological children, which includes US citizenship, since both parents are US citizens themselves.  However, with the adoption long-finalized, Kembe was only just granted citizenship.

This is a problem.  If someone like this easily and clearly meets the qualifications of citizenship, yet it takes 2-3 years to push the proper authorities to grant him this right, how much harder is it for someone to legally immigrate to the US to escape a life of poverty or oppression?

What I find is that the Land of Opportunity is severely lacking in opportunity.  We've gone from inviting people into our home to constructing barbed-wire fences around it.  We've stopped offering to help people find a better place, and instead we taunt them with our wealth and refuse to share, like a spoiled kid on the playground.  Honestly, when did we get the right to be such jerks??

Those of you with more insight into international law may have reasons not to pursue this path, but as a person who wants to follow the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:39, I think it's time we started loving our international neighbors as we love ourselves.

Always moving forward,


PS: Don't expect politically-inspired posts regularly.  Sorry about the rant, we'll be back to your regularly-scheduled broadcast shortly.

No comments:

Post a Comment