SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



What do we do with illegal immigrants?
By Mike Harpold


May 28, 2006

What do we do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living and working among us, over four percent of our population? The only practical answer to that question is, nothing. Yes, nothing.

No one seriously advocates a roundup of 12 million people, the resources to do so don't exist, but I believe most Americans agree that further illegal immigration should be stopped, and so the emphasis should be placed on improving the current system for verifying employment eligibility, enforcing the law against employers who hire illegal workers and enforcing our borders. But by the same token, there are no resources for processing 12 million applications to stay in the country, whether you call it Guest Worker, Amnesty, or Earned Path to Citizenship.

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill that offered an estimated five million illegal aliens who had been here for over five years the right to remain in the U.S. An estimated four million would have to leave, but could come back as one of 200,000 guest workers. The remaining two million, having been here less than two years would have to leave.

Come on now. The hallmark of this generation of illegal aliens is their access to and skill in using fraudulent employment documents. Of the estimated eleven to twelve million illegal aliens already here, few are going to admit being in the U.S. less than five years. At least Senator Diane Feinstein had the honesty to admit the obvious and propose an amnesty for everybody who has entered through last year.

The old Immigration and Naturalization Service was split into three parts when it was put into the Dept. of Homeland Security and the legacy Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services lacks not only the capacity to deal with the present backlog of legal immigration, but has no internal capacity to police the millions of applications that would be filed or to process them. Moreover, the use of phony documents by illegal immigrants has become so wide spread, and so many aliens have been able to convert them into valid drivers licenses and ID's, it will take at least a generation to sort through the mess.

On the eve of World War II, the United States found itself in a similar dilemma. Several hundred thousand aliens, most from Mexico, Canada and other Western Hemisphere countries, lived in the U.S. illegally.

In response, Congress enacted the Alien Registration Act of 1940, requiring every alien in the U.S. to go into their nearest post office, be fingerprinted if over 14 years old, and fill out a registration form called an AR1. The form was mailed to I&NS headquarters in Washington, D.C., the lower right hand portion, on which the alien had placed his thumbprint, was detached and mailed back to him. It was called an AR3 and the alien carried it as evidence that he had complied with the Act. As long as he continued to report his address annually, he was never deported unless he committed a crime. But he could not use the AR3 to return to the U.S. once he had left, nor did it accord him or his family any other immigration benefits. It was administratively simple, neither rewarded nor punished the alien's unlawful presence, and worked.

Over time many of the aliens who registered qualified for an immigrant visa through regular procedures, left the U.S., or simply died. If implemented today, over time many unlawful immigrants would also qualify for legal status under the present system. But they would not displace the several million potential immigrants already in line waiting for a visa.

We've failed for forty years to enforce our borders, and the results will haunt us for decades. We need to start by closing our job market to people who enter the U.S. illegally. In doing so aliens using false documents who move to new employers will be closed out, our shadow population will decrease, and pressure on our borders and visa system will decrease.

As a nation we need to put an end to the anarchy that characterizes the present situation, decide how many immigrants to take in each year, revise those of our laws that are clearly unfair, and decide whether or not we need guest workers and for what jobs. We still take more immigrants and refugees within the law, almost one million annually, than any other nation on Earth, and I hope that we continue to do so. We are after all, despite what the free trade ideologues in the present and past administrations have been telling us, a nation, not just an economy.

Mike Harpold
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Mike Harpold retired after thirty-five years with the U.S. Border Patrol and the I&NS. He has lived in Ketchikan for 22 years.

Related News:

Senate passes comprehensive immigration bill By MARGARET TALEV and MICHAEL DOYLE - The Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping immigration bill that would allow millions of undocumented U.S. residents to seek citizenship, establish temporary guest-worker programs and strengthen border barriers to stem new illegal immigration. - More...
Friday - May 26, 2006

With very different House and Senate bills, real work now begins By MARGARET TALEV and MICHAEL DOYLE - Now begins the real fight over immigration policy - and a key test for the nation's weakened president.

The Senate's passage Thursday of a bill that could lead to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers is not yet cause for celebration among those who marched and waved flags in nationwide rallies this spring. - More...
Friday - May 26, 2006



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


Write a Letter -------Read Letters

E-mail the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska