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February 19, 2015

New Year, Old Solutions

Patricia A. Kelly

Politics can be so annoying, especially when politicians in leadership positions behave unethically, or outrageously. Allowing oneself to become angry about it, though, can limit the possibility of a thoughtful response.


The thoughtful response to this behavior is to find facts, publicize when appropriate, and help the public to remember, at the next election, what kind of people they elected last time.


In the meantime, there are problems out there to be solved. Let’s hope our current officials, both state and federal, can do something about them, now that the fireworks have died down.


One problem’s solution lies in the use of common sense. We have too many laws. Creating multiple new ones to tweak inadequacies in already existing laws just perpetuates the difficulties and confusion we already experience. Go back and paint with a broader brush. If someone commits murder, it’s a hate crime. We don’t need a special law for that. “Hate,” based on homosexuality, or gender bias, or religious bias, is simply an obvious aggravating circumstance. It doesn’t require another law.


Child abuse should be covered by a law that protects children. If a dog, or a parent or a lover attacks you, he is likely to do it again, given the proper circumstances. If a parent commits a grievous crime against his child, he should not have a chance to do it again. Of course, there is some good in children being with their birth families, but no chance should be taken with a child’s safety, ever. One law should cover it. It’s good that one of our delegates is addressing current inadequacies, but revisions should be part of one relatively brief and clear law.


Immigration reform is another good example of a problem with multiple available solutions. Barbara Jordan, the late Texas congressman, headed an immigration commission in 1995 at the request of President Bill Clinton. The most striking solution mentioned in the list of recommendations was the same recommendation made by President Theodore Roosevelt. It was that anyone moving to the United States, wishing to become a citizen, should become a true American, speaking English and declaring loyalty to only one flag, that of the U.S.


How simple is that?


The other day, I walked into the 7- Eleven store here in Frederick at 5th and East Streets to buy some salad dressing. The sign out front advertised “pupusas.” I asked the young lady stocking in the back if they carried salad dressing. She politely informed me that she didn’t speak English. At the same time, there were four people in the store, including the register clerk. All were speaking a language other than English.


I’m glad for immigration. Diversity is what made our country great. Different ideas and skills and cultural values blended together make our society unique and special. “Blended” is the operative word here.


If you don’t think our unity as a society is at risk if people are encouraged to speak their native languages and live in little ethnic communities isolated from the rest of society, you should think again. We all need to become brothers and sisters, united as Americans. That will never happen if we can’t even talk with each other.


As for the illegal part, let’s take a lesson from the Republic of the Philippines, a country that supports citizens in working outside the country to bring in needed revenue. We could declare all illegal residents of this country ex-patriot workers, and let them stay. They would be required to register, and to keep authorities notified of their location. We could then help their native countries set up ministries to attend to their needs.


We can’t do anything about the citizenship of everyone already born here, or their applications for citizenship for their parents, but we can change the law so that no one becomes a citizen by being born here unless their parents are citizens. Simple.


Then we can improve monitoring of our borders to prevent terrorist infiltration, while also denying any future illegal border crossers the right to stay here, no matter what their age. We can insist that their native countries keep them safe, if they’re children.


It’s not as complicated as people make it seem.


So, let’s ask our representatives to get to work, and accomplish at least the things that have already been solved.  Elections will be here again soon enough.


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