08/24/12 — Breaking in line: Political gimmick offers no genuine answer to immigration quandary

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Breaking in line: Political gimmick offers no genuine answer to immigration quandary

A whole bunch of people just fell for a fast one.

The millions of children of illegal immigrants who signed up recently to be on a list that promises to protect them from deportation -- well, not in so many words, but in theory anyway -- and that allows them the chance to qualify for some legal identification did little to help their cause. This list did not come close to offering a real solution for them, or any kind of step forward for stemming the tide of illegal immigration that continues to be an issue across the country.

Truth is, there is still a dilemma, one that cannot be solved by pandering speeches and simplistic pronouncements about fairness and humanity.

This is a nation of immigrants, but it is a nation of legal immigrants, people who came to this country with a dream, and who pursued American citizenship and learned the language, determined to take advantage of the freedom their new home offered. They did not surrender their heritage, but chose, instead, to create a new identity as a proud new citizen who preserved his or her culture and traditions. And this nation is better because of it.

And there are still people seeking that dream, through the proper channels, by applying for citizenship and then doing the work necessary to make that goal a reality.

Yet, somehow, we have pushed them to the bottom of the list.

And, instead, we are discussing what amounts to amnesty for millions of people who thwarted our laws and chose instead to live off this country rather than becoming contributing members in it. And, as a consequence, we have created a new form of lawbreaker -- those who take advantage of these workers and their families.

We can fix this problem, if we are willing to admit a few realities.

There are some people we cannot send back. They should be offered the chance to make their citizenship legal, or, to apply for a temporary work visa that would allow them to return home.

They should pay a fine and pay a fee to keep those papers.

That's fair.

Signing up these children is a first step, yes, but all it really does is put their parents on an illegals list. The option offered is not realistic and offers no permanent solution for these "no fault of their own" illegals. It is merely political gamesmanship.

So why not, instead, require them to complete the citizenship paperwork and requirements to make themselves legal on their own? They overcome the misdeeds of their families, and remove a cloud that otherwise would have followed them throughout their lives. They will be legal American citizens -- and will have earned the right to call themselves just that.

Illegal immigration is a political hot potato because there is no easy solution to its consequences.

Deportation, border control and English as a second language, as well as education and social services costs, are real concerns and they cannot be waived away with political speak.

The next president will have to address this issue head-on -- and sooner, rather than later.

And when he does, he should remember those who have been waiting in line and give them the respect they deserve, while offering a chance for those who want a chance to be Americans the opportunity to earn that right.

It is the least we should expect -- and it is what every other nation in the world, bar only a few, would demand.

Published in Editorials on August 24, 2012 11:08 AM