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America's immigration quagmire

Bryan Ray / Columnist

In the past few weeks on Capitol Hill, legislation has been in front of Congress concerning the growing immigration problem.

There are separate bills in the House and in the Senate.

The House bill is geared toward criminalizing efforts to assist illegal immigrants once they are in the country, while the Senate focuses more on efforts to remove illegal immigrants after they have entered the country.

I find that neither bill really attempts to face the whole issue, as there are three parts, all of which are not adequately dealt with and never have been.

First is the choice of whether or not to deport illegal aliens.

This issue has wide implications for the next few years. If Congress decides to deport all the current residing illegal aliens, there is no real plan to do so, nor is there willingness to do so.

If the government had been serious about deporting aliens, they would have been rounding them up during the protests over the past few weeks.

Even if the United States were to round up all the immigrants, how would they be transported home?

The military is the only entity with the capability to do so, since many immigrants would have to be transported all over the world.

Such an effort would be the greatest movement of personnel in the history of mankind and would commit a tremendous amount of labor, materials and resources.

Then, the government must wonder if it actually removed all of them.

If we are not going to remove the illegal immigrants, we are forced to give them amnesty.

By amnesty, I mean granting them citizenship. Such an action would add a tremendous amount of people to our voting pool, as well as citizens that could be taxed and who are already taking advantage of some of the benefits of American life.

If we were to institute some sort of amnesty, it would have to be the final time that amnesty is offered, in order to deter any further illegal immigration.

Third, there is the problem of keeping illegal aliens out.

The government has toyed with the idea of building a wall across the Southwest border.

Such a structure would span the distance equal to that between Washington, D.C. and Chicago, and would again force a tremendous mobilization of personnel and materials to build and would then have to be guarded.

The problem that this method does not account for, is that there are many illegal immigrants who do not come through the southwestern United States but, like those from southeast Asia, come through the ports of the western United States or through Canada.

Other methods that have been taken by private citizens, such as organizations like "The Minute Men" or other "Civil Patrol" unions are at best vigilantes and, at worst, lynching mobs.

This method cannot work without stricter penalties for attempting to illegally cross the border.

The question that no one has attempted to seriously deal with is how does an immigrant nation, such as the United States, deal with our current immigration problem?

Granted, there are many differences between the former immigration influx of the early twentieth century and the one of this century, but the questions are still the same.

How can a country, whose leader and vast majority of residents trace their lineage to another country within the past few generations, tell others that they cannot be American?

We are a people who are as diverse in ethnicity and national origin as we are in opinion.

How do we deal with an immigration problem this severe, when we ourselves are immigrants?

Contact Bryan Ray at pendulum@elon.edu or 278-7247.