In the midst of the polarizing debate on immigration, advocates on all sides of the issue can agree on one undeniable proposition: some immigrants benefit the United States and should be welcomed here, while others do real damage to our country and ought to be sent home.
The difficult question is how to sort out the good immigrants from the bad ones, the ones we want from the ones we need to deport.
Consider, for instance, Faisal Shazad, the would-be Times Square bomber, who is obviously the sort of murderous, America-hating intruder who deserves no place in the United States. And then compare him to Wilma Tenobro, the devoted wife of an Army officer and Iraq War veteran, who is precisely the sort of immigrant who helps the country with her presence. The sad fact is, that Mr. Shazad is a legal immigrant and now a naturalized citizen, while Ms. Tenobro, despite the pleas of her active-duty husband on behalf of his wife and their three year old daughter, is an illegal who faces imminent deportation. The contrast of the two cases (both from from the New York area) demonstrates that distinction between useful and harmful immigrants isn’t as simple as the difference between legal and illegal status.
Though most legal immigrants are no doubt law-abiding, America-loving newcomers, some of them are gangsters and goldbricks, welfare cheats and Al Qaeda operatives. After all, Mohammad Atta and the eighteen co-conspirators who slaughtered three thousand Americans on September 11th, all entered the country legally, and the majority of them kept their visas up-to-date to the very moment of their unspeakable crime. Meanwhile, it’s true that many illegal immigrants involve themselves in drug smuggling and identity theft, joining gangs and draining public resources, while many others work hard, join churches, and long for acceptance (and legal status) in a country they love.
According to official estimates, close to half of illegals have close relatives who are citizens –children, husbands or wives, brothers or sisters. The situation of Wilma Tenobro, whose husband, Lt. Kenneth Tenobro, is stationed at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and awaits a second deployment to the Middle East, is hardly a singular anomaly. The New York Times cites Department of Homeland Security officials who “say that many thousands of people in the military have spouses or close relatives who are illegal immigrants. Many of these service members have fought to gain legal status for their family members – only to hit a legal dead end.” The Tenobros have invested more than $7,000 in legal fees so far to no avail.