Americans have never been very accepting of foreign cultures. Being American does not imply any national origin, yet we created an exclusive identity. This tension is evident in the immigration debate.
Republican campaigns for the upcoming elections have turned away from immigration reform, and embraced immigration restriction.
According to FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, there are 205,000 illegal immigrants living in Virginia. In the U.S., it is estimated that there are 13 million people living here illegally.
Many conservatives support building a fence across the U.S.-Mexico border to ensure that no one comes into the country undocumented.
Aside from national security, the fiscal burden they pose presents another problem. Another study by FAIR claims, “the net fiscal drain on American taxpayers [from immigration] is between $166 and $226 a year per native household.”
Democrats acknowledge there is a broken immigration system in the United States; however, the federal government’s priority should be to help these immigrants become citizens.
Senate Democrats have created a new bill on immigration, adopting many conservative stances. In the plan, they intend to expand the border patrol service dramatically.
The bill punishes U.S. employers that hire illegal immigrants, and requires all workers, citizen or not, to have a social security card at all times with fingerprint identification for eligibility checks.
This plan emphasizes securing the border rather than finding illegal immigrants and helping them register for citizenship.
Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is considering immigration reform that imitates the racially motivated Arizona law, which utilizes racial profiling. This law is already in effect in Prince William County.
Cuccinelli ruled that during a routine stop, police officers can ask about a person’s citizenship status. Last August, Gov. Bob McDonnell asked the federal government to allow Virginia state police to enforce federal immigration laws.
In an interview with the Richmond Report, McDonnell stated, “All we want to do is to make sure that, first and foremost, that people who are here illegally, and committing crimes against other Virginia citizens or other immigrants—that those people are properly prosecuted, detained and deported.”
These immigrants are a vital part of America’s working class. We cannot forget they are consumers in this economy as well, not to mention they typically take jobs most Americans are unwilling to take. They also provide middle class America with a labor force.
There is no reason an illegal immigrant, who clears a background check and ardently works everyday for their family, should not be considered a citizen. Not only are we betraying America’s promise to her tired, poor and huddled masses, but we are effectively killing the American dream.
Reform is blatantly needed in America; however, the lines between restriction and racism are blurry. The emphasis should be on helping illegal immigrants attain citizenship, rather than finding them and deporting them.
We cannot forget that illegal immigrants still contribute to our nation, and their rights as people are no different than ours.