Vail Valley Voices: Feds sit on hands while Arizona leads |

Vail Valley Voices: Feds sit on hands while Arizona leads

Sal Bommarito
Vail, CO, Colorado

Despite the bold actions by the state of Arizona relating to immigration, the Obama administration has offered very little guidance and exhibited no leadership to quell this exploding controversy. Certain states across the country have an enormous problem with illegal immigration.

Because our borders are porous, many people from the Caribbean and, more importantly, Mexico have entered the U.S. illegally over the years.

The ramifications of illegal immigration are very significant, as the states must provide health care and education to the children of illegal aliens along with a myriad of other services.

Additionally, illegals are hired by businesses at much lower salaries than Americans. This fact has exacerbated the current unemployment crisis in the U.S., given that many unemployed Americans only qualify for the same low-paying positions.

The totality of the aforementioned has had a large impact on the nation’s current economic problems. So it’s not surprising that pockets of growing resentment have been popping up all across the country, especially in Florida, New York, California, Texas and Arizona.

From my perspective, the assault against illegal aliens by the Arizona Legislature was predictable. The state, along with many others, is having serious financial problems. Arizona officials concluded that finding and deporting illegals would have a positive impact on their worsening financial condition.

The question is: Who should be responsible for immigration policy – each state individually or the federal government?

Many say Arizona’s new laws will result in behavior by enforcement officers that would violate civil liberties. The principal issue is profiling (the practice of using skin color as grounds for suspicion) as these officials root out illegal aliens.

In any case, federal policies that regulate immigration make the most sense, lest we have different laws in every state. What’s the solution?

Before answering this question, we must appreciate that immigrants come to the U.S. for a better life. They believe that they can earn more money and live the American dream.

Many experts believe that the solution is obvious. The U.S. should immediately seal its borders.

Officials should do everything in their power to prohibit more illegals from entering the country. This will be a monumental undertaking, but it’s time to stop illegal immigration before the problem becomes even worse.

And, the experts say, it would be insanity to try to round up between 8 million and 15 million illegal aliens and send them back to their homelands.

Moreover, we must consider the fact that the children of illegals born in the U.S. are American citizens.

So the federal government must develop standards that would enable illegals to gain citizenship over time. For instance, illegal aliens would have to register, not commit any crimes and pay taxes, if applicable, to earn their citizenship.

There’s no other humane way to treat this group. Many have become an important part of our society.

But there should be one qualification: absolute agreement by the Mexican government to cooperate. This plan will not be successful unless Mexican officials work with us to prevent the influx of more aliens into our country.

So what’s my gripe? It’s that the current administration has not shown any backbone relating to the immigration issue. In many ways, it’s less complex than health care reform. Obama’s decision to remain silent and delay any federal actions at this time leads me to believe that immigration is on the back burner for political reasons while the population of illegal aliens grows each day at the taxpayers’ expense.

Sal Bommarito is a novelist and frequent visitor to Vail over the past 20 years.

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