Soft on people |

Soft on people

Associated Press

Watching the unceasing flow of vitriolic letters, Tipsline and online comments on the topic of illegal immigration, I’m reminded of a seminar I once took on being a moderator. The phrase to keep in the forefront, we were told was this: “Hard on issues, soft on people.”

I think that’s a good one to remember as we all try to make sense of our country’s illegal immigration problem – and yes, it is a problem. But what I think so many people are failing to do is recognize the failings of the U.S. and Mexican governments and heap most of the blame on the individuals.

There are some differences between this immigrant wave and ones previous, but remember that the Irish, the Italians, the Poles, the Chinese and other groups have all felt the sting of nationalist hatred, prejudice and racism. As groups, they were able to shrug it off, survive and thrive in our country. And I’m pretty certain that not every one of these people – my ancestors, your ancestors – entered this country strictly legally.

Like them, Hispanics have come here in the hope of pursuing a better life, mostly through the opportunity to earn more money and put their children in better schools. Yes, some of them are criminals – or commit criminal acts while they’re here – but for the most part, they’re like everyone else on this globe who simply wants to better their situation.

What’s so wrong with that?

That said, there’s a lot to be said for some of the proposed fixes, most notably creating a better guest-worker program so people can come and work here legally. There’s also something to be said for eliminating the law that says children born here of illegals are automatically U.S. citizens. They shouldn’t be allowed that privilege until their parents are legal and, this from a liberal: I’m sick of hearing about these folks getting Medicaid insurance on the taxpayers’ dime when 45 million Americans ” many of whom are children ” are completely uninsured.

Again, though, how do you blame parents for accepting free health care for their kids if our government is willing to give it? It’s human nature to take what you can get, especially if it’s free.

I don’t buy the argument many give that this is all about legality. Were that the case, these same Minutemen wannabe vigilantes would be patrolling the interstates flagging speeders and hovering over taxpayers preparing their returns every April. Nor do we see much prejudice aimed at the non-Hispanic immigrants, of which there are plenty.

So if deporting all 11 million illegal immigrants is unfeasible and leaving the situation as-is remains untenable, what to do? As is nearly always the case, the answer lies in the middle, and it will come after a national tug-of-war from either end of the ideological spectrum.

With that in mind, why don’t we all save ourselves the time, dump the extreme left or right solutions and move to the middle? Tougher border scrutiny, a better guest worker program, more accountability from Mexico and some other realistic solutions are more likely to gain traction than “deport the bastards!” mentality.

Vail, Colorado

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