Immigration is far more than a border issue


This from June 24 edition of the Wausau Daily Herald:

“If the United States would deport its alien residents and adopt more efficient means for halting the “bootlegging” of aliens into this country — an “industry” which has grown to staggering proportions within the past few years, every American citizen would benefit.”

Even though a lot of people may still agree with that opinion, it’s only fair to point out, in the newspaper’s defense, that it was penned in 1935. The sentiments that it represents are just about as timely.

Over the past couple of months, the Education and Economic Development Committee of the Marathon County Board, which I chair, has been discussing a resolution in support of national immigration reform.  It became an even more timely issue with the release of an Executive Order from President Obama earlier this month in which the federal government will now be taking a more thoughtful look at situations in which people were brought to the U.S. as children.  Instead of simply deporting them as illegals back to countries where they may have little means to survive in societies where they don’t truly belong, the federal policy recognizes that this approach is neither practical nor fair. The change is a step in the right direction, but it is far from a comprehensive, lasting solution.

Why does it matter to Marathon County? Well, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that half of the hired farm workers in the U.S. lack the legal status to work here and these undocumented workers are a major presence here in Central Wisconsin. They’re vital to the economic health of our agri-business community.  But these workers and their family members can become easy targets for exploitation. In addition to the most basic of work-related protections, there can be problems with health, safety, education of young people to equip them for a future as contributing members of our society, cooperation with law enforcement — and many other areas that are made far more difficult when the people involved live under the daily threat of having their lives turned upside down over their immigration status.

Our resolution asks our federal representatives and the President to adopt a national immigration policy for undocumented workers already living here that provides for security of our borders, uniform enforcement of existing law and a national strategy for coordination among federal, state, local and tribal authorities.  (None of this even touches on the fact that the number of people killed in the ongoing Mexican drug war is now similar to the total number of U.S. troops who lost their lives in Vietnam. This is in a country with about one-third of our population and it has happened over a shorter period of time.)

I don’t really see this as a very controversial request, but apparently, it is:

So, we’ll see what happens. While the solution to the immigration challenge doesn’t rest on anything the Marathon County Board does or fails to do, it’s a worthwhile discussion to have because, after all, the U.S. is literally “us.”


Related, from KSTP:
Earlier this month, the president said the U.S. will stop deporting young illegal immigrants and begin granting them work permits. It applies to people who came to the U.S. before the age of 16.  This afternoon, the Minneapolis City Council will announce their support of the policy.

Cato Institute — How Arizona-style immigration laws hurt the economy:

UPDATE: November 2012 election result changes political landscape on immigration reform:




4 Responses to “Immigration is far more than a border issue”

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