This is a very difficult issue to talk about without sounding completely biased, or in the worse case scenario, ignorant.
I’ve always thought it is unfair for an illegal immigrant to come to this country and take advantage of welfare, government housing, health care, and other government benefits that have been paid for by U.S. citizens. (Education being the only exception due to the fact that it should be granted and facilitated to anyone who is willing to learn regardless of legal status, race, religion, or sexual orientation). This is one of the biggest issues with illegal immigration and one that, regardless of how much you can sympathize with illegal immigrants, is wrong.
I emigrated from Mexico 7 years ago. Within the first 2 weeks of living here in the United States I started going to school. I was eligible to have a discounted lunch at school due to my family’s income. I was taking advantage of government money within two weeks of being in this country. The difference is that it was indirectly fueled by my need for AND right to an education, an education that I was grateful for and gladly took. Even though this was not my home yet, I knew that I was going to be here for the long run so I needed to make the most of it. I wanted to give something back not only to my family but to the community by trying to be the best person I could be and follow this country’s laws to the best of my extent and prove that immigrants can be, and are, a productive part of this society.
Unfortunately, not everybody thinks this way.
Most Mexican, Central, and South American illegal immigrants come to the United States because they can no longer sustain a living in their home country. Most likely they did not have a proper education due to the fact that their family needed them to work from an early age, made the wrong decisions when they were teens, their government did not provide the means to free and accessible public schools, or simply because they were lazy and irresponsible so they did not see it as a priority. Others come because they think life is easier in the other side of the river. Others because they are tired of how the government handles things in their home country. Regardless of the reason, most illegal immigrants who come to the United States are of lower income and undereducated. Most of them think that they will be here temporarily, they just want to send money to their families in their home countries until things improve for them and their families. Unfortunately this is something that their home countries tend to take advantage of. Mexico alone takes advantage of a staggering amount of 10 billion dollars a year sent by immigrants for their families. This has led Mexico to not only disregard improvement to its impoverished citizens, but to also promote illegal immigration in an indirect manner. Most immigrants, being from a humble background, believe that governments are set to benefit the rich and take advantage of the poor. This is why many an immigrant have a strong disregard for the law, not because they do not care for the rules set by society, but because they feel society does not care for them.
On of the things that has made this country the great nation that it is and flourish as much as it has, is its people, and a great percentage of them are immigrants. Bill Clinton once said in a 1998 speech, “America has constantly drawn strength and spirit from wave after wave of immigrants…They have proved to be the most restless, the most adventurous, the most innovative, the most industrious of people.”
Immigrants are definitely a major catalyst to the development of the United States. Understanding this will also lead us to understand why laws like SB1070 are the wrong way to approach the “immigration issue that suffocates America and threatens our way of life” as Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona, so boldly puts it.
What should bother most American Citizens approving SB1070 is the “illegal” part of “illegal immigrant” and not the “immigrant” part.
By nature, all humans are afraid of what we do not know or do not understand. This works as a defense mechanism that has helps us survive as species so it is easy to understand why some Americans are willing to put their names behind laws like SB1070, but never justifiable . This law is nothing more than a defense mechanism of people who are afraid and are not willing to understand why a human being is willing to risk his or her life in search of a better life.
Americans behind this law are the people who do not like to waste 2 seconds of their lives by having to “Press One for English” and hearing “Oprima Dos Para Español.” Governor Jan Brewer is right in one thing, immigrants do threaten the way of life of lazy Americans who are not willing to evolve as a community and as human beings. These Americans are the ones that justify themselves behind the if-it-is-illegal-is-a-crime banner or the most used excuse of “I am pro legal immigration and against illegal immigration” to be behind a law that encourages racial profiling, instead of trying to understand why so many of these illegal immigrants are forced, yes forced, to become illegal.
Every single one of the 9/11 hijackers entered into the country legally and there are many illegal immigrants who are in the most wanted list by the FBI, many of them are burglars, rapists, and murders. Legal and illegal are only labels set by a faulty system that fails to see who are threats to the national security of the country.
More than half of the Mexican immigrants come into the United States illegally. There is not a single person in this country that can argue with the fact that if someone is breaking the law is a criminal. Illegal immigrants are breaking a law but we have to understand two major things:
1.- A crime is only a crime to the law that is being broken.
2.- If so many people are forced to break the law, it is obviously a faulty law that needs to be revised.
The most painful thing for me to admit is that, as wrong as laws like these are, as much as racial profiling is encouraged by them, and as much as voters behind them are afraid by evolving, they are a necessary evil.
The Federal Government needs to find a way so that immigrants, regardless of status, can pay taxes and get proper Identification Cards. Employers need to give preference to people who have been in The US for more than 5 years, but not being limited to them, to ensure that American jobs go to the right people, regardless of what country that person was born.
SB1070 and similar laws are not the right way to start things towards a resolution of an amnesty and revision of the current criteria for issuing Visas, but it is, without a doubt, a major catalyst towards better immigration laws that will help us remove the “illegal” from “illegal immigrant.”