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September 4, 2019

Musings on Immigration

Patricia A. Kelly

One very hot topic of the 2020 presidential race is that the U.S. legal immigration system is obviously in need of reform. The subject of many political diatribes and false assertions about racism, it is being used as political cheap shots while Congress completely fails to act.


We need a comprehensive, principled, fair and legal system now.


“We don’t have the votes.” That political leadership mantra should go right out the window. Come, on Mitch and Nancy. You succeed, decade after decade, in getting yourselves re-elected. Surely, you can wheedle a few votes out of your colleagues for a reasonable immigration overhaul.


You’ve been promising forever that, if your party becomes the majority, you’ll get something done and make needed changes. We’re still waiting.


You might ask: “What principles?”


Our founding principle, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, is the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That means government provision of safety, such as military defense and laws that punish those who harm others, from misleading business practices to murder. Liberty and the pursuit of happiness together mean the right to make life choices in religion, work, family structure and more, in one’s best interest, without government interference or discrimination.


We also have the unusual right, as specified in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, to defend ourselves against an intrusive government.


With all this comes responsibility for our own choices.


Although we’ve failed at times in implementation of these principles, we should thank our country’s founders for some wise choices that have worked exceptionally well throughout our history.


We have a long history of being a haven for immigrants and the oppressed from other nations. We also have a history of considering our citizens when regulating immigration. Over the years, our views have evolved and prejudicial immigration regulations have decreased.


Adhering to core principles should make developing a just and fair immigration system simple, although we’ve made mistakes. Our original preference for European immigrants has led to a diversity lottery for citizens from “undesirable” countries. We’ve had to re-allow immigration from Asia.


One difficult consideration lies in the numbers. “How Many is Too Many,” by Philip Cafaro, reports that, if the present situation continues, our population will rise from approximately 350,000,000 to 800,000,000 over the next hundred years. Also noted is that the carbon footprint of arrivals from third world countries increases significantly upon their arrival.


Back in the day, around 1970, environmentalists proposed limiting the birth rate in order to save the environment. Although that’s no longer politically correct, I wonder what environmentalists and open borders proponents would think about prospective population numbers.


Every country on earth should consider population goals. Immigration is not the only way to help people suffering under abusive governments.


Immigration policy should be comprehensive, science based, and protective of citizens.


Our focus in setting immigration policy should be to choose people who have something or some skill to offer our country. We must prioritize immigrants willing to become “Americanized,” who share our core values of freedom, democracy and equal opportunity.


Spouses and minor children of immigrants should be given priority for entrance, but not adult children, brothers, cousins or sick grandparents. Prospective immigrants in need of social services assistance upon arrival should not be chosen.


People who come here in violation of our laws must be deported.

We must give serious consideration to those who have come here as helpless children, and those whom we have allowed to remain here illegally for decades. Perhaps we should allow them long term residency as ex-patriot workers, with the provision that they apply for legal immigration and, on paper, go to the back of the line of those waiting outside the country for admission.


Birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment offers citizenship to babies born in the United States while “under U.S. jurisdiction.” There is a very strong case to be made that this amendment precludes automatic citizenship for children born of foreign nationals, including illegal entrants and diplomats.


Right now, we are not interpreting this amendment correctly and are allowing, by default, universal birthright citizenship. Everyone is getting the same birth certificate along with a Social Security number. Congress should immediately stop this with clarifying legislation.


It’s not all that complicated. The answers have already been studied and proposed. Again, and until heard, we must insist that Congress do its’ job.


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