Letter: Reform immigration law | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Reform immigration law

The sweeping deportation directives issued by the Trump administration, if funded, will cause great harm in countless ways not only to millions of hard-working undocumented people and their families who now live in fear, but also to the U.S. economy and to our self-respect. But these directives could be enormously beneficial: They could serve as a catalyst to force Congress to fix the wreck our immigration system has been in for decades.

Before providing the funds to add 10,000 immigration officers and the enormous additional resources needed to carry out these directives, Congress must bring some order to the chaos. It must act to legally protect from deportation millions of undocumented aliens who have lived for years in the U.S. and led decent productive lives.

The fact is that for decades prior to the recession that hit in 2008, we as a nation disregarded our immigration laws and encouraged people to enter the U.S. illegally to work in the farm and service sectors of the economy. In effect, we had two signs on the Mexican border: one small sign saying “No Trespassing”; the other, a huge billboard saying “Help Wanted.” Employers breaking the law by hiring undocumented workers were rarely penalized. So of course more and more undocumented foreigners settled in the U.S. and many then had children who, being born in the U.S., are thus U.S. citizens.

How to remedy the problem? Those who say, “Deport the so-called undocumented. They’re all lawbreakers!” need to realize that if lawbreakers are to be punished, all of their fellow Americans who hire people here illegally and who hired them in years past — the farmers, motel and resort and restaurant owners, and all sorts of other business owners, including no doubt our president, must be prosecuted and punished. That of course won’t happen and wouldn’t fix things anyway.

Congress does indeed need to restore the rule of law and secure our borders, but deporting or threatening to deport millions whom in years past we encouraged to come would be a colossal mistake. Congress will help create respect for the law and serve the public interest by protecting from deportation otherwise law-abiding undocumented people who have resided and worked for some years in the U.S. This can be done by establishing a practical path for them to secure permanent legal status. Following that, Congress should eliminate several other serious flaws in the immigration laws. It’s essential that Congress simplify the process for bringing into the country adequate numbers of seasonal foreign farm workers in guest workers programs. Otherwise, the consequences to the farm economy and food prices will be devastating.

Michael Mechau
Redstone


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