Thursday, May 24, 2007

By Gonzalo “Jun” Policarpio


What the American media and so-called political pundits in our midst failed to see it coming that actually caused the defeat of Republican candidates in the 2006 midterm elections was the solid impact of the Republicans' failure to deliver an immigration reform legislation on the American electorate. Definitely the Iraq war is not to blame for the loss of the Republican control of Congress. That's how the Democrats succeeded in having their political song played against President Bush's policy and the media danced along.

I can say without any reservations owing to my 13-year immigration service and enforcement work background that every American is somehow involved in an immigration issue. Because America is a nation of immigrants.

Just recently, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visited Jamestown, Virginia where the first English immigrants made an illegal entry way back in 1607. The place was then inhabited by native Americans belonging to the Powhatan tribe. Without undergoing any quarantine, it was told that the English settlers even brought sickness and death to the native Americans. The poor native Americans then did not know about deportation and so the English illegal entrants permanently resided in Jamestown, Virginia without their permission.

There is truly no argument against the need for a secured border in our country. Having a recognized territorial jurisdiction, our government's immigration policy is to admit only eligible and admissible travelers into our country. The procedures, guidelines, and regulations are all written down in our laws. We still have illegal entrants because of the principle that there is no perfect defense against entry, especially when the United States is widely regarded as the land of opportunity, or the “land flowing with milk and honey.”

The reality of our immigration problem is two-fold. First is the presence of about 14 million illegal aliens, or properly described as undocumented aliens. Majority of them have families with children born in the United States. So they have to work to live and provide food, education, and good health for their children. Even without documents, they manage to pay taxes to Uncle Sam just to prove that they want to contribute and not to be public burden. But having no immigration status, they suffer exploitation and discrimination from their employers. Second is the constant influx of aliens who failed to get restricted immigration documents and resorted to illegal entry. Take note that in this problem, the motivation of these aliens is economic, social, and political in search for a better life- the very same reason why the first Pilgrims came to America.

The bipartisan move in Congress led by Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy to initiate a comprehensive immigration reform legislation is like a gift from heaven. Who doesn't want it – only the misguided Americans who think that they own the United States and refuse to share the blessings God has endowed on our land.

The much-debated immigration bill aims to set free millions of people from economic and political bondage who now live in the shadowy underworld of the undocumented aliens and let them join the rest of America who enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy. Their entry into the labor force would indeed impact on the slowly depleting Social Security fund lock box. It also provides for a temporary work permit program for willing aliens to work for willing American employers in order to discourage illegal entry.

Now, does anybody see or feel anything in the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill as horrifying such as an invasion of America by strange-looking people currently being expressed by certain Republican and Democratic Senators and Congressmen and reckless commentators and newspaper columnists? I believe such fears betray an intolerant, greedy, and racist character.



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