We’ve got all kinds of folks at the federal and state level opining on this issue. (Never mind the anemic economic growth, the smothering bureaucracy, and the record unemployment.)
I’m of two minds about the issue of immigration. On one hand, I want to protect the sanctity and value of American citizenship. A lot of people have fought, shed blood, and died for the freedoms and privileges we have in this country. On the other hand, I believe our current system for dealing with foreigners in this country is broken.
1. Definition of “illegal immigrants”: Some activists and members of the media brand EVERYONE who is not a duly processed, stamped and approved, citizen as an illegal alien. Should a family from Mexico who has followed the rules, and is working its way through the convoluted bureaucracy, be lumped in with the folks who wade across the Rio Grande in the middle of the night?
2. A Broken Process: As I’ve mentioned before, I teach courses at a few area colleges. Last semester, I had a student, of Hispanic descent, approach me after class to let me know he would be missing the next class. He told me he would be in Durham for his citizenship swearing-in ceremony. (He had the paperwork to vouch for that.) He told me that his family first came to America when he was TWO YEARS OLD. (He’s currently 19.) His family runs a popular restaurant in the local community. I asked him why he’s just now being sworn-in. He told me that his parents had applied shortly after coming to this country, but were JUST NOW being sworn in. This comes as not much of a surprise to me, since the SAME people who run the DMV and the IRS run our immigration process. I’ve heard of countless cases where people have needed lawyers — and politicians — to help them navigate the citizenship process. There needs to be SOME level of challenge — requiring SOME effort — to becoming a U.S. citizen. But does it need to be so complicated that lawyers and politicians need to be brought into the picture? Does it need to be so convoluted that it takes a DECADE or SO to come to a conclusion?
3. Driver licenses: We’ve got a bit of a debate going on in Raleigh regarding licenses for non-citizens. Attorney General Roy Cooper is for keeping the current policy of issuing driver licenses to these folks. Lt. Governor Dan Forest is adamantly opposed. Let me take you back to Robeson County, roughly 20 years ago. Deputy sheriff Arthur Oxendine was navigating his marked patrol car along one of the county’s myriad of rural roads when it was hit head-on by a truck loaded with Hispanic immigrants. Oxendine was killed. The driver of the truck had NO permit, license or insurance. The truck had no license tags, and had not been inspected.
I lived with my family in South Korea during the late 70s and early 80s. South Korea has a driver licensing system for non-citizens. You have to go to an office and take a test. You get issued a special non-citizen driver license, and get briefed on rules for vehicle registration and inspection. Wouldn’t it be better to ensure these people are being subjected to the same rules the rest of us are — instead of forcing them into the shadows? Unfortunately, you don’t find out about people like those in the Oxendine case until after something terrible has happened.
4. Border Security: While we’re fixated on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq — a real nightmare is brewing just south of our national border. Drug cartels are running amok in Mexico. We’ve heard about cross-border firefights and mass murder. We’ve heard about cartels wiping out local police departments and taking control of whole towns. I’ve met families who fled the violence in Mexico for the relative safety of this country. Many are still fretting about relatives trapped amid the chaos south of the border.
From what I hear from active duty military friends who have been to the Middle East — we are doing MORE to secure the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq than we are for OUR OWN borders. US citizens living along the southern border are living in fear and having their property rights violated on a daily basis. Many sections of our border are “guarded” simply by a broken down section of chain-link fencing and a sign or two. Why can’t we clamp down on our borders and force people to enter and exit the country via official checkpoints? We’re spending gobs of money to protect borders in the Middle East. Why can’t we peel away some of that funding and those logistics and put them to use along the Rio Grande?
5. Voting: The aforementioned non-citizen driver license program could be a big help in allaying the lefties’ “concerns” about voter ID legislation. We’ve heard about how SO MANY North Carolina residents have no photo ID. Rush Limbaugh is offering up an idea to grant everyone in the country illegally right now AMNESTY — but block them from voting for 25 years. Then, we’ll see how serious some of these folks are about obtaining US citizenship.