Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Can we punish them yet?

Some opponents of the new bipartisan immigration bill are afraid that it offers a too-easy path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.

Forget that the actual proposed process might actually be too complicated for most high-school educated, home-grown American citizens. The fact that hardline opponents of illegal immigration are balking at this measure kind of astounds me.

The biggest problem most of the immigration opponents bring up is that we don't want to reward illegal behavior. This bill would give those responsible — and able — enough to achieve a perfectly legal avenue to citizenship. That's right folks, this new bipartisan bill encourages people to follow the law.

It's not the path to citizenship that is available now, or will be after the legislation would expire, but it's a chance for to legitimize people who are going to be in our country anyway. That way they can pay taxes and contribute to society, the other big beefs espoused by hardline immigration opponents.

So the push to make it even harder for those currently in the country to become citizens must not be to ensure people follow the law, and it must not be to ensure illegal immigrants contribute to society. It must be to punish those who have already come to America seeking a better life.

Punishment is the only reason to make the current proposal tougher (do illegal immigrants honestly have $5,000 lying around to pay so they can become citizens?)

I don't know about you, but forcing people to live on the margins of society without adequate recourse to social, medical and educational services seems like punishment enough.

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