Vail Daily column: Immigration is a sticky wicket |

Vail Daily column: Immigration is a sticky wicket

Butch Mazzuca
Butch Mazzuca |

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this column at

Before meaningful discussion about immigration can take place, it’s critical we establish two incontrovertible facts. First, immigrating into the United States isn’t a right, it’s a privilege; and secondly, national borders denote sovereignty, making it axiomatic that if a nation is to remain sovereign, it must control who enters the country. Unless those two concepts are agreed upon, reasoned discussion or debate about immigration cannot take place.

The first step in controlling illegal immigration is to “stop the bleeding,” i.e., we must prevent more people from entering the U.S. illegally. Preventing people from illegally crossing into the United States begins with the construction of a physical barrier, whether in the form of a wall, a fence or some other type of barrier that includes technology to monitor the border in real time.

We’ve all heard the “humanitarian” argument that erecting a wall is akin to what the Communists did in Berlin during the Cold War. But the Berlin Wall was meant to keep people in, like a prison, whereas a wall erected to keep people out is a manifestation of our national sovereignty.

We are not alone

Fully a third of the nations on earth have either built or are in the process of erecting barriers to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Additionally, at least eight members of the European Union are included in that group; and predicated on the changing attitudes in Europe, that number is expected to increase.

While building the barrier, we must also decide what to do with the 11 million illegal aliens already here. Now, before my liberal friends have a fit because I referred to these people as “illegal aliens,” let’s look at the law. According to U.S code, 8 U.S. Code § 1325, the official term for someone here illegally is an “illegal alien,” not an undocumented immigrant.

I think most of us realize we were hoisted by our own petard by creating the incentives that induced these people to come here illegally in the first place, e.g., not enforcing our own immigration laws. Consequently, it would be morally wrong to deport the people who came here simply to find a better way of life.

At the same time, however, those already living here (provided they’ve not committed any crimes) should be given a specified time period in which to apply/register for a green card so they can remain and work in this country legally. Only if they do not comply within the specified time period should they be deported.

What about citizenship?

If we grant immediate citizenship to these people, we’ll do little more than create further incentives for others to cross into the United States illegally. Instead, the people here illegally should go to the back of the line and apply like everyone else.

Additionally, a 21st century e-verify system is critical to ensuring proper documentation as a requirement for employment. And lastly, because nearly half of all people living in the United States illegally are here because they overstayed their visas, we must immediately begin enforcing our visa laws. Once these protocols are in place, time and attrition will take care of the majority of the problems attendant to illegal immigration.

It’s impossible to address the topic of illegal immigration in 600 words, but the matter of comprehensive immigration reform must begin soon, so why not now?

Quote of the day: “Stopping illegal immigration would mean that wages would have to rise to a level where Americans would want the jobs currently taken by illegal aliens.” — Thomas Sowell

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

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