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As Long as We Remember...

April 5, 2006

Hard Choices or Easy Answers

Edward Lulie III

The United States is a nation that was built by immigrants. We became unified because we were forced by the requirement of learning English (and our legal system) to merge into a culture that grew with diverse ethnic influences instead of breaking apart.

The English language has become the primary language of trade and banking, due in a large measure to the influence of the United States on world commerce. We are - without question - the strongest militarily in terms of force and technology (but not numbers).

Yet allowing our borders to be ignored - and our laws flouted - weakens our legal system, a necessary foundation of our success. Losing a requirement for learning English destroys a basic unifying force, a common language.

These are both primary elements in a formula for success that has worked for over 150 years. Without those unifying elements in our society, just how much longer will we be able to survive as a nation?

The left generally regards the concept of nationhood as an evil relic of Imperialism. To them it embodies the greedy haves refusing to share with the world's have-nots.

Our nation is the most successful system of laws and government in history, creating more wealth and freedom for more people than any other system in history. Yet the days of wide open expansion are long gone. We have limited space, and - as we have been discovering when we buy gasoline - limited resources.

Is it possible to continue a policy of allowing illegals the benefits and guarantees of citizenship without eroding the resources available to the poorest of our citizens already here?

One seldom considered aspect of allowing illegals to flood our country is that it will lock our poorest citizens into an endless cycle of poverty. Their share of support, services and money is shrunk by every illegal that arrives.

Even our poorest citizens live by standards far above those of the poor elsewhere. Generally there are hospitals, law enforcement, clean water and available food. There are jobs, although they pay minimum wages. It is not a life anyone here would choose; but it is at a far higher level of existence than the life of someone in Central America living on a muddy hillside in a cardboard box.

What we have does not exist at all in many of the poorest communities outside our borders. You can understand, then, why the people there are willing to walk, sneak, swim and run into the United States heedless of our laws.

The hardest part is saying to illegals that you aren't entitled to live here, so leave. As a culture we don't like to turn people away. Looking at the faces of those who risked their lives, and broke laws to get here, makes it very difficult to enforce our laws and send them back.

The debate over immigration also includes a lack of understanding history. Not surprising since we don't teach it anymore. Many of the immigrants are from Mexico.

They would tell you, at least as far as Florida, Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona are concerned, that those states are really part of their cultural heritage.

They have a point. Our nation "acquired" that territory by a combination of warfare, diplomacy and skullduggery. Of course, the same might be said of any nation. No nation was ever built or created without bloodshed or conflict.

Yet the reason immigrants want to come here is not because of their cultural heritage but because they can find freedom here unlike the corruption, abject poverty and abuse they find at home.

People break the law and risk their lives to get here, not to shop at Wal-Mart; but because they want their families to survive and become free.

Yet, like a lifeboat, we can only hold a limited number of people; going over that limit will eventually swamp our resources and lead to disaster. St ill we do not want to make the hard choice of telling immigrants that you can only come here on our terms and under our rules.

For most of them that means "NO, you can not come here." We do not want to admit that the United States has limited resources and can not absorb unlimited immigration without harming our nation.

Thus, we face the hard choice of having to decide who gets to come and who gets to stay. Ignoring the 70%+ of United States citizens who want to enforce our laws and protect our borders entails a huge political risk.

There is no easy answer; but then, there never has been.

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