In 1960 I went down to British Honduras, now called Belize, where I worked with the Catholic Mission and taught school at Muffle's College in a town called Orange Walk. While there, I met and became acquainted with a young woman of Spanish and Indian origin named Serafina, to whom I was married before returning to the U.S. Even though she was then my wife, she was not allowed to come with me. We had to follow the rules, and she was later permitted entry, acquired a green card, and in the course of time, became a citizen.
Years later she worked with the amnesty program, handling it for Catholic Social Service in Peoria, Illinois. She helped about a hundred people, counseling them to be honest, and appeared with them before the INS. She will tell you amnesty won’t work.
While many cross from Mexico, which bears responsibility for what their people are leaving or fleeing, it seems to me it is partly the fault of our own government that the situation has grown to be the problem that it is. So now millions are here illegally, and with or without families. The idea that they will do work that our people won't do, is hardly a pat on our back. It speaks better of them than of us.
The problem is complex with conflicting voices. So what to do we do now? You cannot reward breaking the law, nor is it really fair, by circumstances of geography, that a Mexican get an advantage over others who want to immigrate here or are here waiting in line, so to speak.
The first thing that needs to be done, is to set up a plan that will be observed, a plan with the national will to do what is necessary to implement it. We don't need politicians crafting rules to garner votes for themselves. We need people in government who have the best interests of America in mind. And we need people with the backbone to follow through.
It will require closing the border, to crossing at will, and setting up a structure for orderly entry. It will require the realization that it is not practical to send everyone back, nor should we disrupt families that are here.
After sealing the border, for those who are here already, and who are not dealing drugs or are criminals, (1) give them permission to stay with some sort of ID card, but not an entitlement to amnesty nor any sort of fast-track citizenship. (2) The illegals should pay a reasonable fine, a penalty for breaking the law. (3) Then set this as a law: those here illegally cannot become citizens for a period of ten years, nor can they vote in any state or federal election for ten years! This is a key provision. It should help create respect for the law, and it takes incentive away from a politician to formulate a law or a self-serving rule in such a way, that they would get an immediate vote from those who come illegally.
After ten years they can apply for citizenship. They need not forget their Spanish but they should learn English, abide by the law and and affirm their loyalty to America. They need not disavow their cultural heritage but they need to disavow any notion that the continent belongs to them.
A ten-year penalty would be a stiffer penalty than a fine alone (it should create more respect for the law).
For those who might say, but ten years is a long time, there's already a ten -year penalty in place. "If the alien overstayed her visa for more than one year and she voluntarily left the United States, the bar from entering the United States will be ten years. This bar will begin at the date of departure and will be completed at the end of ten years from that date."
If Mexico complains about the ten-year penalty, look at the law south of the border from whence many come (and as a caution there is more than one version of the Mexican law on the internet). As of 1999, under Article 118 of Mexican law (the published reform of Ley General de Poblacion of 1974) foreigners who were deported from Mexico and re-entered without authorization, were subject up to ten years imprisonment. Yes, ten years in prison! That particular article has been replaced by different text, but this was their thinking not all that long ago. And this wasn't the only article in the the 1999 version that imposed prison time: It was also imposed in articles 119, 121, 122, 123, 127, and 138.
Article 138 of the 1999 version still remained in effect in the 2009 version. Article 138 said, "Se impondrá pena de seis a doce años de prisión..." It fixed a penalty of six to twelve years of prison time, for what one might call being a coyote. And imposed a fine to boot. We should remind Mexico of their laws if they preach to us.
If those who come legally can wait, so can the illegals.
You hear the idea of welcoming a stranger, but this has to have reasonable limits. Some advocate open borders, but they shouldn't have their way. How can we protect our country this way? We may have already placed it in peril by allowing the situation to exist as it has. Would open border advocates, personally, want their homes open to all comers? I think not. They would be careful about welcoming a stranger into their own home.
There's a place for compassion, but not misplaced compassion. There's a place for being sensible.
—John Riedell, August 12, 2012
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