Looking at the last U.S. census, .9% of Americans identified as Native American. That means that approximately 99.1% of Americans are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants sometime between 1492 and now (I’m dating this to when European contact was made). There’s a typical liberal saying around immigration, that “this country was built of immigrants”. And while that has been overused, and you can argue that it isn’t fully accurate, this country would not be where it is today had people from around the world not moved to this country.
From the country’s inception until the post-reconstruction so-called “Guilded Age” in the 1880s and 90s, immigration to the U.S. was pretty wide open. There wasn’t a good way to track immigrants, so people just showed up and set up camp in the U.S., and eventually would make there way to citizenship if they desired it. With every wave of immigrants, the already existing citizens of the U.S. have become outraged, feeling their country was being invaded. This happened with German and Irish immigrants in the 1840s and 50s (and the Irish were refugees from famine and people wanted them gone), then with Eastern European immigrants in the 1910s and 20s (they just had to be communists), and with Chinese and Japenese immigrants in the 1880s and 90s (we actually banned them from coming to the country).
Today, we’re faced with a different problem concerning immigration. We used to be able to ban people from coming if they lived in certain countries, by installing quotas or outright immigration bans. And those quotas exist for every country on earth when their people want to come to the U.S. That includes Mexico.
The Mexican economy is an absolute disaster. The government is one of the most corrupt on the planet. Gangs run massive amounts of the country. Poverty is rampant, and wages are low and don’t rise. The best choice for many Mexicans is to start moving north to la linea and try to sneak across the sometimes secure U.S. – Mexico border and live practically as fugitives, working for barely better wages and in barely better conditions than Mexico. There are 11 million people in the U.S. currently who succeeded. Millions more haven’t yet.
I think there’s a common misconception about undocumented immigrants. First, they aren’t illegal. No human can be illegal. That’s not possible. Next, they aren’t here to steal our jobs. They are getting jobs Americans aren’t taking. It is against the law to employ people without correct papers in the U.S., and so in employing undocumented people, business owners put themselves at risk. But they do it because there isn’t anyone else who seems to want to. Third, they aren’t criminals. The rate of crime for undocumented immigrants is vastly lower than that for American citizens. That’s because they are treasuring their chance to live in the U.S., and they don’t want to squander it. Nonetheless, the media does make a bigger deal out of undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, because it plays right into what people want to hear. Finally, they aren’t bringing drugs. America’s problem with drugs is one that started at home (I’ll talk more about this later). The cartels may bring some drugs into the U.S., but the process for them is so complex and risky that it makes more sense to operate in Latin America.
Someone once explained to me a really simple idea about Illegal Immigration. We all do illegal things for selfish reasons. We speed while driving to get to our destination faster. We jaywalk to get across the street in an simpler way. Undocumented immigrants are breaking the law because they are trying to live a slightly better life, and often to provide for their families still in Mexico. They aren’t doing this with a malicious intent. They just want a better life. And America is that for them. So let’s make it easier for them. Here’s my ideas as to what to do:
Create a path to citizenship. Give amnesty to the 11 million here now, allow them to apply for citizenship as if they had lived here legally for however long as they have. Give them a path to citizenship if they have been good citizens while they’ve been in the U.S. (no crimes committed). Then, ease up the immigration quotas to allow more immigrants to come in legally. Finally, work with Mexico to improve the country so the Mexicans who might move the U.S. stay at home and are able to live good lives in Mexico. All this together should provide for a solution to the problem of having 11 million immigrants without correct documentation living in our country, and prevent it from happening again.