Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Undocumented Workers

I read on the Internet this evening, and heard on news broadcasts that President Bush is considering offering amnesty to undocumented workers. These people are good, hardworking people who only want to take care of their families and feel that America is the best place to do so. I admire their drive to do whatever it takes to take care of their families. I admire that they feel that America is the place to do this. I not only admire them, I commend them for their choice of America and their loyalty and desire for the betterment of their families. I can't express how proud I am that of all the countries in the world, they chose America, my country, as their land of opportunity.

I, myself, am a tenth-generation American. My ancestors came to this country circa 1720 to make a better life for themselves and their families. Other ancestors came later from Ireland to escape the poverty and despair that was the norm for people of their class. The difference is that my ancestors came here legally. I understand that the immigration laws were probably different when my Irish ancestors came, and there were few, if any, laws when my German/Swiss ancestors came to the new world to escape religious prosecution. America was built on immigration and those wanting a better life in America, the land of opportunity. We immigrated into America, and then migrated across the continent to the West Coast, north to Alaska, and even to Hawaii. That doesn't change the fact that people are entering our country illegally today.

"Undocumented workers" are undocumented because they are breaking the law. The politically incorrect name for "undocumented worker" is "illegal alien." For whatever reason, they are breaking the law of the very country that would welcome them if they came here legally.

While I applaud the sentiment behind the concept of amnesty to illegal, undocumented workers, I have to question the reason. All of the people I have discussed this with feel this is simply a way of garnering votes. This is not a new idea or just that of a few people. I've also listened to talk radio, read columnists and blogs on the Internet. Many people truly believe that this is simply a ploy to get votes.

Many people are also concerned about terrorists who are waiting for an opportunity to act. While there are differences between the day laborer from Mexico who wants a better life for his family and the terrorist, the main difference is the reason for entering America. The terrorist may originally come in legally, and then wait for an opportunity to hurt us by disappearing into the populace and forget that their visa has time limits. Or he may have crossed into America from either Mexico or Canada just like any other illegal, undocumented worker wanting a better life, except the terrorist wants to destroy our country.

Many people are upset that the borders are so wide open. With the thousands of miles of borders between the US and both Mexico and Canada, it would be impossible to stop anyone from crossing into America at any time. If people come into America illegally, and then are told, "Don't worry, we'll make it all better. We'll grant you amnesty" where is the disadvantage? Can't we make it more advantageous to allow people to come legally into America to live and to work? Rewarding good behavior, (in this case, legal acts) usually works better than punishing bad behavior (illegal acts).

I believe that this topic is more important that "just" votes. Would it not be better to change the immigration laws to make it more advantageous to come into America legally than illegally? It would satisfy those like me who would welcome legal, properly documented workers, satisfy those who want to change the status of the now illegal, undocumented worker, and make us look so much better in the eyes of the world.