There are essentially, in my estimation, two primary concerns with people entering a country illegally or overstaying a visa. First, without the screening process of going through legal means, there are a good deal of criminals and potential terrorists entering. Secondly, those that do enter can often take advantage of public services while not paying taxes. I’ve written in support of immigration reform before, but this article outlines an approach I have not yet fully discussed that I believe would go a long way to resolving at least the two problems above.
There is no question in my mind that people who do not enter a country under legal means cannot be considered for participation in that country’s public programs. They should never be entitled to them. By not using legal means of entry, you have failed to agree to the terms and conditions of the laws of the land. Of course, I would disagree with the existence of the variety of public programs available in most countries to begin with, but if I’m being practical, then we could at least agree that if you have not legally agreed to the laws of the land, you cannot proclaim entitlement to their protections and their guarantees.
So, the first step to address the problems with illegal immigration are to eliminate people having to pay for public programs and resources for people who have not agreed to all the other laws that go with it. This isn’t something I believe is heartless. This is something I believe is a matter of principle. If you cannot agree to hold to a country’s laws, then you cannot possibly expect the benefits.
Now, on the other side of this, I do believe not allowing people to immigrate that may be in desperate and dire circumstances, or even ones that aren’t desperate but may very well be bringing all sorts of benefits with them, would be heartless. If I myself were in a desperate situation and my family was going without, I would also ignore an imaginary line on a map in order to help my family. This is why under the way things currently are, with legal means being out of reach for many immigrants, I have a heart toward the majority of illegal aliens, and I don’t have a problem with things like sanctuary cities. In most cases, every nation in the world has made immigration such a difficult and expensive process that opportunities for legal immigration are unfairly unavailable.
Let’s skip the silly semantics of defining everyone who immigrates under illegal means as a criminal for the sake of reasonable consideration. It makes a reasonable discussion on immigration reform impossible. Statistically in the US, (and I am certain these numbers are a bit fuzzy), only approximately 10% are responsible for criminal activity, leaving the other 90% as good and decent people just trying to better their station in life and make a living for their families. They’re the sort of people every country needs in order to broaden and expand economic activities and make great contributions to society. I think that bad immigration policy by government has created this problem, and, therefore, I support a simple pathway to legality and amnesty.
The number one way people become illegal aliens is by overstaying visas. There isn’t any number of walls or border protection that prevents that problem. A wall does absolutely nothing to keep airplanes from flying over or ships legally entering harbor. Nor does it prevent people who are already in a country legally from staying beyond the date of expiration on a legal visa. However, let’s remember that this is a group of people that was originally vetted as they entered. While there is criminal activity in any group or population, this group would carry a lower number of criminals than people who simply sneak through a border.
A border wall might slow some activity of people sneaking through on foot, but at an enormous cost and would certainly not deter all. A logical cost/benefit examination of a wall versus other effective alternatives makes it a less than desirable option, especially in the sense that it requires stealing other people’s money for funding. If people want to voluntarily fund a wall, then so be it, but it’s doubtful that there would be enough funding without the gun of government placed against people’s heads, and it’s hard to convince people to pay such an enormous expense for such little gain.
If you want the sort of people who are less likely to cause problems and are less likely to participate in unwanted activities, then a better option is to make it much easier for such people to go through legal means. The cheaper and easier that process is, the more likely people who have nothing to hide will use it. If people who are good neighbors have an option to come out of hiding and take a legal pathway that is both simple and inexpensive, then they will certainly pursue it.
If all that we require is a very small fee for processing and a decent background check, then what reason do people have for not making use of legal immigration? The answer is that if they would fail a background check, then it’s a process that they want to avoid. Imagine if the only people attempting to avoid legal immigration are the kinds of people you don’t want as immigrants. The only ones avoiding legality would be people who are not good citizens and are not necessarily interested in a peaceful better life. Now, law enforcement no longer has to use resources to arrest peaceful people, but can instead focus their resources on people who cause problems.
The answer to resolving problems with illegal immigration is not by clamping down on good people, but rather the answer is to make it much easier for good people to immigrate. And, the answer to problems with people who have already immigrated illegally is not by rounding them up and shipping them off, but the more compassionate and reasonable approach is to provide a simple and cheap means of becoming legal so that the focus instead goes toward the sorts of people that are at the heart of criminal activity. Legal immigration grows economies, and it enhances a country’s citizenship as decent and law abiding people enter. Therefore, legal immigration should be as easy and inexpensive as possible for the benefit of all citizens.
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