The issue of immigration is neither a new one, nor a simple one.
Throughout its history, America has been a magnet for, as Emma Lazarus wrote, the tired, the poor the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." At times we have welcomed them with open arms, while at other times we gave them the back of our hand.
We welcomed the Chinese to the West Coast to help build our railroads, then oppressed and even murdered them just because they were Chinese.
We passed laws to sharply minimize the number of refugees who could enter our nation escaping Eastern Europe's death camps at the end of World War II, but welcomed the English fleeing the Luftwaffe's bombs.
If there is one thing we can pride ourselves on our immigration policy, it's our consistent inconsistency.
It's easy to have a dialogue with yourself about the immigration issue:
-They're called illegal aliens because they're in our country illegally. If we don't enforce the laws against these people, the concept of being a nation of laws, not people, becomes meaningless. Or:
They're called undocumented workers because they perform work we can't accomplish competitively and cost-effectively otherwise
-We've learned from 9/11 that our porous borders make it easy for those who wish to destroy us to enter the U.S. We have to guard against that. Or:
No Latin immigrants have ever been brought to court charged with attempting an attack against the U.S.
-Kids should be in school, not marching on the freeways carrying the flag of another nation. Or:
It's wonderful how young people in Los Angeles are taking part in this political issue, getting involved in the democratic process.
-Robert Frost wrote that "good fences make good neighbors." Or:
Building a 700-mile fence across our border with Mexico makes NO SENSEnbrenner.
There are 10-12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Los Angeles County has somewhere in the neighborhood of one million such people. By far, the vast majority of them come here seeking economic opportunity and better lives.
The only real solution is for the nations to the south of us to enjoy economic prosperity, so that their citizens need not face desert heat, Border Patrol sweeps and other dangers to come here. But that is not likely to happen for a long time, if ever. Third World economies do not become economic successes within a few years.
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