Sunday, February 6, 2011
Illegal immigrants are breaking the law
Immigration laws are touchy subjects, I know, but I saw an article in Sunday’s South Bend Tribune about one being proposed for Indiana, so I decided to blog about it. Hopefully, there will be some discussions as a result.
According to the article, Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, introduced Senate Bill 590, which bears a close resemblance to one passed in Arizona. For example, if someone is thought to have violated a law or ordinance and is apprehended (or stopped) by a police officer, and if then that police officer has probable cause to believe the person is an illegal immigrant, then the suspect would be required to produce proof of citizenship.
Those against the bill cry foul and say this is “racial profiling.” Delph counters that by saying the bill expressly forbids racially profiling.
The bill also would require the state to send an expense report to the federal government requesting reimbursement for illegal immigration costs to the state, it would prohibit state and local governments from corresponding in any language other than English, and it would increase penalties against businesses that employ illegal immigrants.
Some complaints that have arisen in opposition to the bill say that anyone not carrying proper papers could be in danger of being arrested under this bill. Some say that other more pressing types of crimes – such as robbery or domestic violence – could be ignored or at least may receive a delayed reaction because officers are trying to sort out one of these cases. Others complain that it is asking state and local law enforcement to enforce federal law.
Here are my thoughts:
First, regarding the proper papers, if you’re a legal citizen, it’s not difficult to get – at the bare minimum – an identification card. Most of us, I would bet, have driver’s licenses that you can’t get without proof of citizenship. What’s so wrong with asking those of us who are rightful, legal citizens to carry something around that proves we are? I know some might argue this is too “Big Brother-ish,” requiring us to “register.” But I already am registered by virtue of my license, and I don’t lose sleep over it. And here’s my other thought on this aspect of it. Have you ever traveled outside our country? I have. When you do, you are advised to carry on your person at all times proof of your citizenship (of your home country) as well as a legal document proving when you came into their country and when you are leaving (not to mention why you’re there in the first place).
My next thought has to do with the employers and the enforcement of the existing law. Somebody needs to start policing the laws already in existence making it illegal to employ people who have entered the country illegally. If we don’t crack down on the employers who give these people a paycheck every week, it’s never going to stop. It’s cheap labor – some may even say slave labor – and those employers who make a habit of employing illegal immigrants are not going to stop until they start suffering damages from it. If that means state and local governments have to help the federal government do its job, so be it.
In my positions as both a teacher and a news reporter, I have met and even come to know people who have come to our country illegally. I’ve been fond of many students in the past in that situation. On a personal level like that, it’s hard to think about denying them the same opportunities my daughter has. In my travels to Mexico, I’ve ridden through some of the “real” sections of the tourist towns. I’ve seen the shacks some of them live in. I’ve watched them carry bottles of water to their homes because the tap water in their homes isn’t safe for consumption. I understand the allure of America.
But I still have to insist, if you’re going to come here, please, do it legally.
There’s a contestant on American Idol this season - Melinda Ademi – who came here from Kosovo with her family. War raged in her country, and her parents feared for their lives. But they waited. They applied for green cards and finally won those green cards in a lottery. Their lives were literally at stake and they still did it right.
That’s all I’m asking. Why do some people make it sound like it’s so wrong to ask that those who come do it legally?
There are laws in this great country of ours that we all have to live by because we are citizens of this country. That’s where I get caught up – illegal immigrants want the benefits of citizenship but they start off their pursuit by breaking the law.
I empathize, I even sympathize with many of them. But that doesn’t change the fact that the law is the law. I was born here and I have to obey the laws. Shouldn’t everyone?