05/08/07 — Border debate: Immigration remains very important issue for election

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Border debate: Immigration remains very important issue for election

Another year and another round of immigration protests. The faces might be different, but for those gathering around the country this past week, the message remains the same — safe harbor for illegals and a new, more defined immigration policy as a whole.

This is not an easy issue to tackle. Illegal immigrants spark ire on both sides. One group wants this nation’s leadership to admit illegal immigrants are here to stay and to offer them the chance to become legitimized citizens, while the other wants someone to do something about the sieve-like borders that seem to provide an uninterrupted flow of people without papers.

What both sides seem to agree on is that something needs to be done as quickly as possible.

Out-of-control immigration is more than just an inconvenience. It is costly and unfair. There are hundreds of people waiting in line right now to enter this country through legitimate means — and who have followed the rules. What about them? Should someone who has sneaked across a border and operated under the radar screen illegally be allowed to jump to the head of the line simply because he or she has logged years of breaking the law?

And what about the costs to this nation’s social service, education and health systems? The amount of money available to fund programs for illegal immigrants does not cover the costs of making sure that families are able to get the resources and health care they need. Who is supposed to pay for that?

Although the war in Iraq will be a hot button issue in the 2008 presidential election, immigration will not be far behind. The wear and tear and the costs of dealing with immigration problems are causing major concern in this nation’s border states. Residents there want something done.

And for the rest of the country, there are immigrant populations who need attention as well. Illegals do not stop at the Arizona, Texas and Florida borders. All you have to do is head to Duplin County to see that.

America has always been a safe haven for those who were seeking to be free — and it still is. But the time has come for real immigration reform that deals with the problems created by illegal immigration and makes it possible for people to choose to come to and to stay in the United States as legal, naturalized citizens.

And that could mean some really tough decisions for the next president.

In the meantime, watch and listen for candidates who seem to understand that there is a problem to solve. That is the first step.

Published in Editorials on May 8, 2007 1:32 PM