02/23/13 — Immigration: A stripe across a license is not discrimination

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Immigration: A stripe across a license is not discrimination

To really deal with immigration, you have to face some realities.

The first: We are not sending 10 million illegal immigrants home.

The second: Nothing we do about those who are already here will matter if we do not make sure that we have the sieve that is our national border under control.

And third, there is no one size fits all solution, no matter what those who would rather opine than actually do anything say.

This country did not become embroiled in this debate in an afternoon of bad decisions. It is the result of years of passing the buck and refusing to do anything except make crowd-pleasing speeches to capture the Hispanic vote.

Anyone who actually suggested that anything be done was immediately labeled a racist who did not remember the proud history of the immigrant in the United States.

And that is how we got to 10 million and why there are some young people today who are illegal themselves -- even though they have lived a majority of their lives in the United States.

The problem is no politician wanted to be the one to talk about the hard truths of a solution.

But they are not the only ones avoiding reality.

The illegal immigrants who brought their children here and then proceeded not to get the citizenship papers they needed to be here legally -- in some cases for more than a decade -- aren't jumping up to take responsibility either.

And now, in North Carolina, we are arguing about a pink stripe across a license designating a person who is here illegally as someone who is here -- illegally.

And once again everybody misses the point.

First off, if we are going to offer a legal path to citizenship, we have to have a way to identify those who need to take it. And knowing who they are allows officials to help them along the way and allows this nation to get a handle on what kind of problem we really have.

Secondly, if someone is interested in pursuing citizenship, they need to step forward and get on the list.

There is no discrimination in that.

The sad reality about illegal immigration is that there are millions of people right now who are pursuing citizenship in the United States through legal means. They have learned the language, done the work and are waiting for their turn to take the oath.

They are proud of their journey and, honestly, are better aware of why being an American citizen is so special than some of those who were born here ever will be.

It demeans their efforts to make it easy for anyone to simply pop up and claim something they worked so hard for -- even if they were brought into this country through no fault of their own.

Citizenship should mean something -- and we should make sure it stays that way.

On the other hand, this is a nation of immigrants -- people who gave up everything and traveled across an ocean to give their families a better life. That is our history and one that we should cherish -- and respect.

And that means stopping the idiotic rhetoric that requiring a real path to citizenship -- along with fines and taxes as well as a requirement to learn our language -- is somehow a slap against that proud history.

Most of our ancestors came here the legal way -- and did the work to be citizens. And that is what we should require of anyone who wants to have that honor.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor.

So fighting over a stripe is yet another unfathomably stupid deviation from the real concern -- the time to think is over. No more promises. No more passing the buck.

Make the path. Consider not only the illegals, but those who have training and expertise they can offer this country. Welcome anyone, but demand that they do the work to earn their citizenship.

Offer farm worker visas or anything else that allows people to choose to come for only a short time and get those borders closed tight.

And then, vow that this really is the line in the sand and that the path is now set and that if someone breaks those rules, they will be sent home.

Speak frankly, respectfully, but with the truth as a touchstone.

And have the guts to say "no more" -- no matter what the political fallout might be.

Then and only then will the United States have a workable immigration policy.

Published in Editorials on February 23, 2013 10:35 PM