Illegal immigration has long been a hot-button issue in American politics since at least 1980. In fact, it was at the League of Women Voters 1980 Presidential Forum that a question from a young man in the crowd was directed at George H.W. Bush concerning illegal immigration.
“Do you think that children of illegal aliens should be allowed to attend Texas public schools free or do you think that their parents should pay for their education?”
Bush’s response would shock the far-right conservatives currently supporting Donald Trump.
“Look, I’d like to see something done about the illegal alien problem that would be so sensitive and so understanding about labor needs and human needs that that problem wouldn’t come up,” Bush said.
Bush continued, saying “The problem has to be solved… as we have kind of made illegal some kinds of labor that I’d like to see legal…we’re creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family loving people that are in violation of the law.”
He concluded his remarks with “The answer to your question is much more fundamental than whether they attend Houston schools, it seems to me. If they’re living here, I don’t wanna see, dang it, 6 and 8 year old kids being made totally uneducated and made to feel that they’re living outside the law… these are good people! Strong people!”
The icon of conservatism, Ronald Reagan, also responded. He would arguably be considered an apostate today.
“We haven’t been sensitive enough to our size and our power,” Reagan said. [Gasp! There goes Reagan again with his unceasing optimism about America.]
“Rather than talking about putting up a fence [Ronnie, we’re past fences, we’re talking about walls now. You know like the one you demanded to be tore down?]… make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit and then while they’re working and earning here they pay taxes here, and when they wanna go back they can go back… open the border both ways.”
Not all illegal immigrants pay taxes, but many of them do. FiveThirtyEight said in a recent article that they paid 12 billion dollars in state and local taxes in 2012. 12 billion dollars from people who have no access to social safety nets like SNAP and Medicaid without a valid social security number
FiveThirtyEight also said “According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly half of undocumented immigrants initially entered the country legally and then overstayed their visas.”
Half of the 11.2 million illegal immigrants currently here (down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007 according to Pew Research Center) initially came here legally, yet, Trump demonizes Mexican illegal immigrants as rapists and murderers.
All the while ignoring the fact that Mexican immigration has faltered in recent years. Central America is where most of our illegal immigrants are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Mothers risking everything to give their children a chance to rise from poverty, gang warfare, and political tumult; whispers of military coups and uprisings.
Support for making legal immigration easier has never been higher, yet people like Donald Trump want to take us back to the late 19th, early 20th centuries where we severely stunted the ability to immigrate. This policy had long-ranging effects that included some unfortunate situations during the Holocaust.
Trump’s unconstitutional immigration plan has 3 key components.
- A nation without borders is not a nation: There must be a wall across the southern border.
You know what the problem with a wall is? It tends to cover-up problems that need solving and inhibits communication. Communication that would be vital to solving the problem. Reagan advocated working with Mexico to solve this problem. We need to try harder instead of threatening them with inane trade wars.
- A nation without laws is not a nation: Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
Trump could start with the 14th amendment that his plan attempt’s to subvert. That amendment’s language is unequivocal. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
- A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation.
That includes the children of illegal immigrants who were born here. The best way to serve them is to stop treating them like criminals and forcing their families to hide in the shadows. They didn’t commit a crime by crossing a border. Illegal immigration is a civic issue. That’s why they are deported and not imprisoned. At least… not yet. Trump hasn’t been elected president.
The fact that we are a nation of immigrants cannot be stressed enough. It is not a tired cliché. It’s the truth. Our patriarchs and matriarchs came here with purpose and a common belief: I can make it here and I can raise a family doing it and ensure our continued prosperity as the years go by.
Every person should have that opportunity. Washington bureaucrats shouldn’t stand in anyone’s pursuit of happiness. The immigration system needs to be expedited, not dismantled. We should be asking ourselves why people still want to come here, legally or illegally.
Donald Trump is sitting in his ivory tower proclaiming from his own personal cloud 9 “Make America Great Again!”
To so many who have risked everything to come here, America never stopped being great. Perhaps some of you have forgotten what America is all about and what made us great in the first place.
We never stopped being great. If we allow fear and xenophobia to overtake us, we will be great no longer.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”