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Illegal Immigration, Amnesty, and Double Speak

How often have you heard the emotionally and politically charged rhetoric with respect to immigration? Some blame all of the country’s ills on immigrants, while others believe them to be the very panacea for all that’s wrong. Some wish to allow anyone and everyone to come in and do the work Americans allegedly do not wish to do, while others will wear shirts that read “America Is Full” and want to build a really big wall along the Mexican border to keep people out. In order to dig through the mud that is being slung from both sides, wade through the piles of verbiage that are accumulated, and make sense of the real issue, here is a short crash course in reality.

The Problems

Our school system is bursting at the seams with an influx of children who do not speak English and fall behind as soon as they are enrolled. Further, many children drop out of school because they are frustrated in their learning process. Our hospital system is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy since many bills remain unpaid. The quality of life for many illegal, sometimes hispanic, immigrants is very limited, since many are preyed upon by employers who will pay slave wages and only offer substandard and unsafe working conditions.

Where do the Parties stand on the Issue?

Well, President Bush and his republican backers have decided to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and do something about the problem. Instead of proposing an amnesty as Reagan did with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act which succeeded in legalizing 2.7 million illegal immigrants, he proposes a temporary worker program. Mr. Bush’s goal is to permit American employers to fill job openings with available foreign workers if no American worker is available to be hired. Mr. Bush wishes to permit future immigrants to take part in this program as well as those he considers “undocumented yet employed” at the present time. President Bush and his backers believe that by instituting a guest worker program, a form of border control may be instituted. Further, the economy is served by providing willing workers, while the workers are protected because they are no longer forced to work for slave wages.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is somewhat hesitant about the proposal, although many see it as a step in the right direction. While they wish for an amnesty, they shrink back from what is generally perceived as the creation of a sub-class of laborers. Instead of permitting all “undocumented” immigrants to become guest workers, the Democratic Party wishes to have the illegal immigrants go through a background check and prove themselves via hard work and the payment of taxes. Further, they wish to make certain that family reunification will be hastened rather than hindered.

The Language

Is there an Answer?

In my opinion, both parties hold pieces of the puzzle, but neither one has the full picture. A collaboration that will look beyond the emotionally charged rhetoric, euphemisms, and double-speak that seem so prevalent in this discussion would be quite helpful, but unfortunately the movers and shakers on both sides appear too enamored with their grandstanding to let go of it.

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