Immigration’s thorny issues |

Immigration’s thorny issues

A friend of mine recently asked me in an e-mail if people who have immigrated here illegally should be allowed to work in jobs no one else will take. After all he wrote, they strain our schools, the legal system, health care and other social services – valid points.He also asserted that with zero illegal immigrants in the valley there would be a lot of unmade beds, uncooked meals, unwashed dishes, snow not being shoveled and homes not being built – another well-taken point. So what’s the answer? I can’t say with absolute certainty because there’s a lot of moving parts to the issue. But here’s a start. 1.First and foremost, we have to call a spade a spade and stop using the politically correct, “undocumented workers.” If someone is here illegally, they’re illegal aliens. It’s that simple.2.Secondly, just as we were taught in first-aid class, before anything else, we’ve got to stop the bleeding. That means enforcing the border. I don’t understand all the logistics about building a wall, whether virtual or made of concrete and steel, but by whatever means we must plug the sieve, even if it means using the National Guard or tripling the Border Patrol or everything else is for naught.3.Congress must establish a guest worker program that would operate through the country of origin. Since there’s likely to be corruption at the other end and we want to offer opportunity to as many as possible, if an individual fails to obtain a guest worker permit but can show proof that they complied with the program’s rules, after a reasonable period they should be able to apply directly to the U.S. government for such a permit.4.Anyone caught crossing the border illegally must be sent back home with no chance to ever come back into the United States.5.We must give anyone here illegally the opportunity to register as a guest worker, provided they are currently employed or can prove employment within the last 90 days. I would allow 90 days to register without adverse consequences. Failure to register would be a felony subject to deportation.6.Once registered, the worker should be given guest worker status. I’m against levying fines because they could prove to be a disincentive to register. But they should be required to pay back taxes. However, if anyone is caught not registering or failing to pay U.S. taxes, they should be deported immediately with no chance to come back into the U.S.7.After a period, say three years, the guest worker should be able to apply for U.S. citizenship, providing all the requirements for citizenship are met, including rudimentary use the English language.8.Congress must implement penalties that hurt for businesses caught hiring illegal aliens, including a three-strikes-and-you’re-out provision. First offenders should be fined thousands, second-offenses should be fined 10 percent of the businesses annual revenues, and third offenders should go to jail for a mandatory five years.Like all dilemmas, the devil is in the details, but I would hope the reader can see that the foregoing includes compassion for those seeking a better way of life, as well as a get-tough approach for blatant offenders.But there’s a side issue to immigration that’s seldom referenced, the matter of language. “The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. We have but one flag. We must also learn one language and that language is English.” – President Theodore Roosevelt.Did it disturb anyone else to see the protesters in Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago a few weeks ago holding placards written in Spanish and carrying Mexican flags? Kathleen Parker said it well in a recent commentary: “The right to protest was a gift from America’s founding fathers to the nation’s citizens; ergo non-citizens should protest in their own countries.” Personally I found it insulting that many of the protesters, a significant number who are here illegally, had the audacity to protest our laws, in our country, in their language! All of which leads me to the tangential issue that’s seldom spoken about openly for fear of being labeled with the “R” word.Do we really need Election Day ballots, driver’s license tests and the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish? Aside from local election authorities and motor vehicle bureaus, did you know that at least one local school allows its students to say the pledge in Spanish? The principal of the school explained her rationale to me in an e-mail. She wants the students to understand rather than memorize the words to the pledge. Good for her – that’s a compassionate perspective. Nevertheless, I cannot help but believe that she’s not only sending the wrong message, but that she’s doing those kids a great disservice. Studies have demonstrated conclusively that in the United States, mastery of the English language is the surest determinant of socio-economic success and more than any other measurable characteristic, knowledge and usage of the exact meaning of a large number of words accompany achievement in this country. (Tell me the last time you were in a major hospital and overhead an Asian doctor speaking Chinese or Korean.)We should welcome legal immigrants with open arms, but I also believe that by making it easy for anyone living in this country not to learn our language, we limit their opportunity to succeed. Besides, don’t you think protests will garner a lot more understanding if they’re made in English? Butch Mazzuca, a local Realtor and ski instructor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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