Issues in Immigration: From Rhetoric to Reality

I am a Mexican. I was born in America. All the generations before mine have spoken Spanish, but they did not pass it on to me or my cousins. My grandparents were poor. My parents were poor. I am still poor. But just as my parents’ wealth grew, I don’t doubt my future will be comfortable as I continue to work diligently.

Growing up I did my own lawn. Last year my parents hired people to do theirs: Mexicans. I do not know whether they are legal residents or not. But they do good work.

I’ve heard a lot of heated debate on the issue of undocumented/illegal immigrants from Mexico. I am quite annoyed at the unhelpful rhetoric. Calling immigrants “undocumented workers” is an unnecessary spin that deflects from serious consideration of the problems these people create for American citizens by being here. Calling them “illegal” and characterizing any “guest worker program” as “amnesty” is simply ignorant and unfair. Both sides of the issue have valid concerns that need to be addressed. I will not attempt to offer a solution. But I will suggest an approach.

Government is a human and fallible institution. In America we are under the rule of law, which we create in order to establish morality, justice, and order in society. Ideally, we make laws based on what is already naturally right and wrong. Unfortunately, in our postmodern mindset we have come to think that the laws themselves create right and wrong. Just because something is currently illegal doesn’t mean it should be. It is wrong to break the law; but not all laws are just. We may at times need to revisit or revise some laws to address unforeseen contingencies.

To address the whole immigrant problem by characterizing them as “illegals” is supremely unhelpful. Though technically correct it categorically ignores the reality of why the immigrants come and how they affect our society.

On the other hand, it is no use whatsoever to throw out the law and just allow anyone to come to America. To do so would weaken our economy, thereby eliminating the need for anyone to migrate at all. It would also compromise our security, which no one wants.

The answer is simple, but not easy. 1.) The laws must be just and fair; and 2.) the laws must be enforced. It seems the two sides of the debate are not really divided on what needs to be done but on where to start. I say it is a waste to attempt to enforce unrealistic laws. If we must choose a priority I choose to revise the laws.

But we must also think of the security risks we take in not policing our borders. And to that end I say continue to increase our presence there and do whatever is necessary to secure the border. It must be done. But I see the border security issue and the Mexican immigrant issue as two separate but related problems. Border patrol is primarily a security issue. But the question at hand is about what we should do with those who are here or who will get through in the meantime, primarily an immigration issue.

Clarity is essential to making progress that is both just and right.


2 thoughts on “Issues in Immigration: From Rhetoric to Reality”

  1. I’m glad I found your blog. I find your insights interesting. I have a lot of concerns over the current debate. I don’t think the current laws are fair, nor do I think there is any good way out of this. I live in a community that is largely hispanic, and largely (forgive the use of the term) “undocumented.” My daughter goes to school with children who are citizens yet their parents are not. Deportation can only accomplish one of two things: deprivation of US Citizens of their rights, or the breakup of families. I don’t find either of them as satisfactory answers to the problem.


  2. Determining how to be just and how to uphold the law is the crux of the debate. The issue is complex, when considering the details of the lives represented. Good work!


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