Thursday, February 02, 2023
14.0°F

Immigration policy

| March 28, 2006 11:00 PM

It seems ironic that a nation that has evolved and grown strong from immigrants is grappling with an immigration problem.

I'm not making light of the situation but pointing out the irony.

A few years ago I was at my 30th high school reunion. I had read that Long Island had lost 500,000 people since I had left high school (there were only 1.5 million people living in a space that approximated from here to Kalispell and 10 miles on either side of U.S. Highway 2.). I asked one of my former classmates how life was on the island.

He said there were too many "damn foreigners."

That set me off laughing loudly. When I grew up you had to speak, Italian, German and Spanish to get by. I worked in construction with Italian laborers who could barely speak English. I remember Germans, Russians, Puerto Ricans and Jamaicans on the job sites.

In those days, quite a few Puerto Ricans and Jamaicans would work and return home with money for their families and then return to work and after a while return home again with their money. I don't remember anyone questioning it, and I certainly don't remember such things as "green cards."

I remember on school field trips into nearby New York City, I was fascinated by the list of languages spoken at various businesses. It was painted in their front windows.

The idea of America as a melting pot was alive and well in the New York coastal regions in the 1960s and 1970s — and certainly long before that. Somewhere after that the nationality of the immigrants changed and I suspect people started taking more notice. I know during my reunion trip I noticed a lot of the small business owners were Indians from India and Pakistanis.

Out West, the concern seems to be perpetually centered on the U.S.-Mexico border, even this far north. As most of us are aware, many businesses have welcomed the Mexican worker, and not just agriculture, because they will work hard for modest to low wages doing work the rest of us shun. And they provide seasonal help to farmers and ranchers. It's called economic necessity for both sides.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is proposing a bill that would allow 11 million illegal immigrants to stay in the country and seek citizenship. It would also create a guest -worker program, double the Border Patrol on the southern border of the U.S. and add surveillance equipment not already in place.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has his own plan that doesn't include a guest-worker program but it beefs up border security and law enforcement.

It is said that any bill with amnesty for illegal immigrants will fail in the U.S. House.

While the nation's politicians were debating the citizenship issue on Monday, people were taking to the streets in major cities throughout the United States. It is said that 50,000 people marched in a protest in Denver.

I sometimes think we're taking the wrong approach to the immigration problem. Why is it that the northern border — the longest unprotected border on the planet is not overrun with immigrants from Canada? Perhaps because the Canadians have a decent quality of life with employment opportunities within their own country.

Throwing more money in the form of aid to Mexico won't solve the problem and may even make it worse. We need more of an open door policy on the Mexican side so American businesses and businessman can create opportunity for themselves and the Mexican citizens. The U.S. immigration problem with Mexico will end when the Mexican people feel about their country like the Canadians do about theirs.

There is no doubt that the U.S. has limited resources and it is taxed by an open immigration policy or one that embraces all illegal immigrants. But what do we do? We can't wall ourselves in and think it could possibly work.

We'd probably spend considerably less changing Mexico to be a more free, democratic society with an open-for-business attitude than stave off the hordes of illegal immigrants flooding our southern border seeking a better way of life. Why not give them what they want within their own borders? That would be a cheaper and more cost-effective immigration policy.— Roger Morris