I’ve been going around Texas, meeting many wonderful people interested in solving the immigration issue we face in this country. We’re all talking about it these days, but at this point, no one’s serious enough to “get involved” in something so controversial. Of course, the Democrats are all over this, making promises as they normally do, to convince the Hispanic community that Democrats care and Republicans don’t.
It’s not that Republicans don’t care, because many of us do. It’s that many Republicans don’t see the value in the Hispanic vote. The look at the numbers today and say, “what’s in it for me?” They study the numbers and come to the same conclusion, there’s not enough Hispanics voting in the Primary to make a difference. Therefore, why step out on a limb to develop a solution, when they might risk alienating their base by appearing to be sympathetic towards many in the Hispanic community.
Many Republican voters don’t actually understand what’s taking place. They think, “what difference does it make if candidates try to solve the problems of millions of illegal immigrants…they don’t even vote.” And they would be correct. They don’t vote, but their family members do, and we know how big Hispanic families are.
You see, that’s the missing link. Many Republicans are going along saying negative things about illegal immigrants, not realizing we’re being judged by our fellow Hispanic citizens , who do vote.
I have an uncle named Ernest. When I was young, there were a few times when the family needed to pull together. We all helped each other out. I went to him afterward and thanked him for all his hard work. He said, “That’s OK mijo, blood’s thicker than mud.” And he’s right. We would do anything for our family, and that’s what we need to start thinking whenever we talk about illegal immigrants. Sure, right now, they can’t vote, but one day, they might. And you can bet, families stick together and remember who was there for them.
Based on these principles, we must find a way through the forest. We must develop solutions. But what would work? What would American voters approve?
Here are a few thoughts on five topics that continue to rise in discussions I have with other activists.
1. No one who is here illegally should be allowed to gain citizenship before anyone who applied and is waiting in their native country.
2. Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to partake in ANY government hand-outs such as medial care, food stamps, housing assistance or anything paid for by American taxpayers.
3. Anyone living in America illegally should pay a fine before consideration of any documentation plan.
4. Anyone living in America illegally should be able to prove they can earn a living and provide for their family before consideration of any documentation plan.
5. Anyone living in America illegally should be automatically deported if they have been convicted of a felony.
Would an illegal immigrant be willing to subject themselves to a background check? Would they be willing to pay a fine? Are they willing to give up the “freebies” in order to obtain legal status? (not citizenship)
As Presidential Candidate, Newt Gingrich has stated, we are not going to deport 12 Million illegal immigrants. If that’s the general consensus, then doesn’t it make sense that we develop a plan to integrate them and allow them to come out of the shadows? In truth, it’s a security issue. We need to know who’s living among us. We need to know who’s driving on our streets. We need to know if our neighborhoods are safe.
Gingrich described a certain demographic within the illegal population. Those who have lived in this country for twenty-five years or more, and have paid their taxes and stayed out of trouble, should be allowed to participate in a program that would document them and make them legal. They can contribute to society, pay taxes and live a normal life, unafraid and proud to be here.
Sounds like a starting point, but in my opinion, twenty-five years is too long. I think if a person has been living in this country for ten years and has provided for his family, stayed out of trouble and not “taken” from the taxpayers, then they should be offered the same option. This way, the young illegal immigrant who came over with his family ten years ago, and is now about to graduate, can become a documented resident. They can go to college and get a job afterward, and not have to fake documents to survive.
I know many in our Party think this is a sign of weakness. They think we should not allow a program like this to happen, but I would remind them of the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, enacted by Ronald Reagan, who said, “The problem of illegal immigration should not, therefore, be seen as a problem between the United States and its neighbors. Our objective is only to establish a reasonable, fair, orderly, and secure system of immigration into this country and not to discriminate in any way against particular nations or people.”