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October 20th, 2018

Insight

Stop the Silly Statements About Immigration If You Want to Reach an Agreement

Bruce Bialosky

By Bruce Bialosky

Published Jan. 29, 2018

As our elected officials in Washington (notice I did not say leaders) bicker over any changes to our immigration system, they repeat quite often silly statements that have either no relevance to the discussion and/or are major distractions.  Let's address those ideas so that we might bring them into the modern era.

It is high time that politicians from both sides of the aisle stop telling us of the “huddled masses” which their families were a part of more than a century ago when they came to this country. The statements are quaint, but have little or no relevance to the world of today. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) reminding us of his Irish forbearers from times gone by really adds nothing to a sophisticated discussion of our 2018 immigration policy in a high-tech economy. 

Meld these two thoughts together.  First, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Second, the fact that we are developing driverless cars and trucks that could put over one million truck drivers and other service people out of jobs.  Or just think of your local parking lot where the ticket taker is no longer needed at the kiosk and you self-pay with your credit card.  

The world was different when Emma Lazarus wrote the poem that is now part of the Statue of Liberty and my relatives came here from Lithuania in the 19th century.  We were in transition from an agrarian society to an industrial society. We are now a high-tech society. Yes, we need people to work in our restaurants, clean our hotel rooms and pick our strawberries, but how many of those people do we need and how many are just taking jobs from Americans of lower work skills entering the job market?  That is why we need a thoughtful, comprehensive immigration policy for this country that looks towards the future and not the past.


Another reason this is so important is because of the difference between how our government functions today and how it did over a century ago.  Defenders of illegal immigrants always want to tell us of how these people add to our economy.  Yes, the vast majority of these people are hardworking individuals who want to advance their lives beyond the opportunities available in the largely dysfunctional countries they came here from.  That is why they are willing to risk their lives and travel long distances to enter the land of opportunity — America.

On the other hand, the fact that large numbers of these people draw government services paid for by natural-born Americans is undeniable despite the illegal immigrant advocates' attempts to deny or downplay that. Coming to America and getting your children an American education, using our medical system, living in our advanced housing and being provided food benefits to feed your family is a tremendous draw over living in a despotic or dysfunctional country.  These free governmental services were not provided to legal or illegal immigrants a century ago; thus, the comparison to those times has little or no validity.  Just think how many Venezuelans would love to be teleported to the United States today.  That is not the question. The question is how many people and of what personal background (not religious or ethnic) should enter this country?  

At the heart of the current discussion on immigration are two factors.  The first are the young people brought here by their parents who have grown up in America. There are about 790,000 of them who have applied for DACA.  There is still no discussion of the other 1,100,000 who are eligible and have not applied.  Is there no discussion because the DACA advocates do not wish us to focus on these individuals because they cannot attempt to canonize them like in the same manner as they do the DACA program participants? 

The important point here is that there should never, ever again be a discussion of what we do with young adults brought here as children illegally by their parents.  American citizens deserve a rational system of entry into this country that eliminates illegal immigrants and controls entry of legal immigrants.  Just legalizing the DACA program applicants does not do that and does not even confront what we do with the 1,100,000 eligible for the program that did not apply.    

Consider this, the current Senate proposal for handling the DACA applicants (including their parents) would legalize anywhere between 5 and 8 million people who are currently considered illegal immigrants. We will have no say over who and when these people entered this country. We will just have to deal with the aftermath of their decision.

Last, can we dispense with the often repeated and silly phase that “Our diversity is our strength.”  Who made this up?  And why has it become a mantra?  As someone who has travelled all over the world, I love interacting with people from the countries we visit.  I am always asking people in America what their national heritage is and hearing about their background.  I love being at a sporting event when they honor a military hero of the game and their name indicates they are from a newer immigrant group as opposed to descendants of the Pilgrims.  It is truly inspiring that they have grasped enough about what this country is about to volunteer for our armed services.  But this silly phrase is nothing other than a catchphrase nor pertinent. 

What is pertinent is how committed people are to perpetuating the American ideal, protecting the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and following the rule of law.   

This column stated awhile ago that we need comprehensive immigration reform.  We need to confront the issue of illegal immigrants in our country, but make sure it does not happen again.  We need Visa control, border control, a system where we decide who should enter our country and not others doing that for us.  The system as designed or haphazardly applied is not working.

Ask anyone this simple question: Do you believe the people of the United States should decide who enters this country under our immigration program?  If they say yes, they believe in a comprehensive resolution of this matter. If they say no . . ..

What we should be aiming toward is having people entering this country that will benefit this country no matter where they come from or their heritage or race.  They should come here prepared to make America a better country for the 21st century and beyond, and want to envelope themselves in being an American.They should also come here prepared to support themselves.  Those are the major qualifications that need to be considered for legal immigration into this country.  

It is time to stop with the silliness and focus on those two points so our elected officials can get to work to resolve this most important issue.  

Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.

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