10/29/11 — What's fair: It's not prejudice to expect people to follow the rules

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What's fair: It's not prejudice to expect people to follow the rules

You do not hear a lot of candidates talking about it. Call it the elephant in the room for the 2012 election.


The issues has surfaced again, in part, because of controversy surrounding Alabama's new, very tough, rules against illegal immigration, which are likely to end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

And it is time that there was a federal discussion about this rather contentious issue -- and, hopefully, some real leadership from the next round of leaders in Washington.

So let's start with the obvious.

It is never, ever right to discriminate against, to harass, to harm or to bully anyone -- no matter what their immigration status. Anyone caught doing anything even remotely close to any of those actions should be dealt with harshly. That is not how we do things in America.

But it is not prejudice or discriminatory to require immigrants to follow the rules -- or to prove that they are indeed in this country legally.

We can do that in a responsible manner -- and with what is just and right in mind.

This country has always welcomed those who come here in search of a better life. And that should not change. But this country's resources are not infinite. We cannot continue to allow porous borders, not and manage our expenses properly.

And those who are in this country illegally and who bring children into this world should not be allowed to claim citizenship rights for those children. It is not right, and we cannot afford it.

We should welcome those who follow our immigration rules and establish a procedure for those who want to come here, work and return home. They should have a temporary citizenship card -- and they should be expected to pay a fee from their earnings for it.

We have a responsibility to demand that. It is only fair to those who apply to become American citizens and do the work to earn the title.

We must stand firmly against hate in all forms -- and demand accountability from those who are charged with enforcing the rules. But there must be rules.

The Alabama question has sparked concerns that America is persecuting Mexican-Americans and that another civil rights issue is brewing as are more prejudice, hatred and ill will against other nationalities and ethnicities.

We have to make sure that does not happen.

But we do not do that by ignoring the rules. In fact, that is why we are where we are now. Resentment builds when problems are not addressed.

There is no question that it is long past time to do something about illegal immigration. The problem, while a concern for many states, is critical in many of the border areas.

And that means we have to force Washington to come up with meaningful policy, to enforce it fairly and to take the leadership role required to get this problem resolved.

Citizenship should mean something -- and it does -- to the millions of naturalized citizens across the United States. And it should mean something to us, too.

Published in Editorials on October 29, 2011 11:33 PM