The leadership of this country has chosen to annoy and exasperate many of our citizens by refusing to address the immigration issue. In this era of terrorism, where a porous border places the safety of all Americans at risk, we need to put together a comprehensive plan to resolve this issue. I firmly believe that this is possible.
When President Bush proposed comprehensive immigration reform, I initially supported his ideas. I soon learned that I was wrong. Americans overwhelmingly believe that before any other steps are taken, the border must be secured. Congress reacted to this sentiment in 2006 by authorizing construction of an effective border fence – a project quickly terminated by Barack Obama – but nothing has really changed: Americans still want secure borders. In 1986, we were promised that illegal immigration would be rigorously limited by the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Those promises were not kept and the level of distrust is not only palpable, it is justified.
It’s clear that the first part of a solution must be border security. A three-year project to complete construction of a barrier on the Southern border, including appropriate allocation of federal funds, must be initiated. These three years can be used to straighten out the horrendous record-keeping within the INS, and to confront the thousands of people living here on expired visas. It is a joke that we focus so much on Latin Americans when people from anywhere on the planet can arrive here with a legal permit and then just disappear without any fear of getting caught. You can rest assured that there are plenty of Canadians in this country way beyond their legal limit.
We are also going to have to adopt some form of national identification card (which may be partially addressed by the introduction of secure drivers’ licenses currently under way in several states). There is no person more distrusting of big government than this author, but we have to get real and recognize that we will never have a long-term resolution of the immigration issue without being able to identify whether someone is here legally or not. We all understand that counterfeiting will happen. As sophisticated as we make the card, some smart crook will eventually figure out how to forge it. To argue against ID cards because of potential fraud is as silly as not updating our currency because criminals may find new ways to copy it. Yes, it may be a small imposition on our citizens to get federal identification cards – although if driver’s licenses can be employed, the imposition is minor at best – but there is no reasonable alternative to handling this matter without them.