The Bush administration on Tuesday urged Congress to enact a comprehensive three-pronged immigration plan that includes toughened security at the border, aggressive interior enforcement and an immigrant guest worker program virtually identical to one the president first proposed nearly two years ago.
This plan is good as far as it goes (though it may depend on what is meant by “toughened security at the border”), but there really needs to be a 4th prong. There are three problems with garden variety illegal immigration. The first problem is that illegal immigrants first act on entering the country was to show disregard for our laws. The second problem is that it creates a crush of bodies entering through irregular channels, that those intent on doing us harm could take advantage of. If legal immigration were easier, then frankly the Border Patrol could assume anyone crossing the desert at night was here for nefarious purposes and not just looking for a job.
The third problem is unaddressed, perhaps worsened, by this plan. I listened to Congressman Tom Tancredo speaking on the immigration issue and while I definitely don’t agree with his closed borders neo-isolationist rhetoric, he had one excellent point. He told of speaking with a Bishop in Colorado about illegal immigration. The Bishop told him not to worry, “these people don’t want to become Americans.” Tancredo’s response, with which I wholeheartedly agree, “THAT’S THE PROBLEM!” The fact is that the US needs the fresh blood of immigration to remain a dynamic, energetic society. But we need the right kind of immigration. A guest worker program may temporarily ease labor shortages in the jobs that are hardest to fill, but that’s not the only benefit of immigration. The plan needs a 4th prong to encourage immigrants who DO want to become Americans, who do want to spend their lives here, immigrants who want to learn the language if they don’t already know it and who want to become citizens.