Saturday, April 9, 2016

GOP and Immigration Reform

Perhaps it is because it is all that GOP front-runner Donald Trump talks about (besides himself), but it seems that immigration is becoming a trending topic in the 2016 presidential election. Sadly, because of Trump and a few other factors (namely that the Democratic Party generally gets most minority votes), it has been made to look as though those on the right are racist and nativist. While this may be true of Mr. Trump (which will be discussed later), it is a mistake to assume that because someone is a conservative that they are against any type of immigration reform.

This post will concern itself with three concerns :1) What conservatives have historically done on immigration reform 2. Why the stereotype of immigrants doing jobs Americans won't do is false 3. What to do going forward

As a people we seem to have very short memories. In 1986 President Ronald Reagan, who modern conservatives worship, signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This bill required employers to verify the immigration status of employees and forbade recruiting those who were known to be illegal immigrants to work. However, this act also under certain conditions allowed those who were in the country illegally to be granted amnesty. At the time Reagan signed the bill into law, there were 3.2 million illegal immigrants. If the right hated illegals, they had a way of not letting it show.

In more recent memory, Senator John McCain of Arizona teamed up with Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts to pass the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. While the bill sadly never came up for a senate vote, it would have granted amnesty to many illegals if there was a promise of more border control. President Bush offered similar ideas, but they also were rejected.

It seems based on the evidence that while some people like Donald Trump are radical about immigration reform, that conservatives by and large are amenable to allowing people to stay if there is something done on the border. At the end of the day, conservatives believe in the rule of law, but they can have compassion as well. It is clearly false to think that conservatives are all like Trump or even mostly like Trump. It seems that over the last 50 or so years that this has been an issue, we have been willing to meet our liberal counterparts in the middle. But we are the ones who never get our side of the deal answered.That is not to say that I as a conservative endorse Mr. Trump's idea of deporting all illegals; such a thing is impossible and inhumane. But, if we are going to have laws they need to be enforced.

A common counterargument that is often used is that immigrants do jobs that Americans won't do. I have no idea what these people are talking about. I currently am a janitor, and have done other jobs that are low paying and require lots of physical labor. Americans have often picked fruit, cleaned lawns, washed cars, been handymen. What job is it that Americans won't do?

What I think the proponent of this argument is really saying is that American's will not do jobs without a fair wage and safe working conditions. While an American can legally ask for such things, an immigrant cannot but is willing to work for some pay. People are firmly aware of this and take advantage of it.But this is not an indication that if there were no immigrants many jobs would be left undone. Sure, some people will refuse such work, thinking it is beneath them. But many people will overcome their pride and do what needs to be done to earn a living, and thus will do those jobs.

The real question is always "What should we do?" I agree with what President Reagan did 20 years ago, and would be willing to do what he did again, on conditions that a wall is built and immigration laws afterwards are stringently enforced. Meaning, I would be willing to give amnesty and citizenship to all illegal immigrants, but things must change at the border and those who come after would have to be deported.

I am sure some liberals are saying "Why build a wall? People will still come illegally." It is surprising to hear them use this argument in regards to immigration, but when gun fanatics remind them that stricter gun laws will not eliminate all gun crime this doesn't change their minds. I am aware that some will come over illegally no matter what we do and we cannot catch or stop them all. But just like common sense gun laws, it is not an excuse to do nothing because you cannot do everything.

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