Mar 262006
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Since Thursday, demonstrations have taken place in major cities across the United States, including Denver, against an immigration reform bill recently passed by the House and now residing in a Senate committee.

The Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) calls for increased border security, particularly along the southern border with Mexico, under the guise that terrorists could easily enter the country from that border.

And, of course, we have to protect American jobs from being taken by Latinos.

On Friday in Atlanta, many workers stayed home from work in protest. In Phoenix, 20,000 people gathered for one of the biggest demonstrations in the city’s history. In Los Angeles, more than 2,700 students stood up in class and took to the streets in protest. The next day, more than half a million marched through the streets protesting the bill.

On the same day in Denver, what was supposed to be a small demonstration of a few hundred drew a crowd of 50,000. Police had to shut down some streets to accommodate the high number, but no arrests were made.

H.R. 4437, would make it a felony to enter the United States illegally or to aid anyone who has entered the country illegally.

It would also construct double-layer fencing along a third of the southern border at a time when the country is at a deficit of more than $4 trillion.

Some remain remarkably clear-headed as immigration becomes an issue for mid-term elections in the House in November.

“This is an emotional debate. America does not have to choose between being a welcoming society and being a lawful society. We can be both at the same time,” President Bush said in his weekly radio address. “As we debate the immigration issue, we must remember there are hard-working individuals, doing jobs that Americans will not do, who are contributing to the economic vitality of our country.”

While I do not agree fully with the immigration reforms Bush has planned, the former Texas governor has a much clearer understanding of the necessity of foreign workers in the United States who are willing to do jobs the average American is not.

They pick, produce, and clean American offices and schools (including the bathrooms, which, as thrilling as it sounds, is not that much fun).

Since its conception, our nation has been one of opportunity for those who are “tired, poor,” and “yearning to breathe free.” Despite any threat terrorism may pose, as a country we cannot lose sight of our higher ideals: Freedom and posterity for all that work for it.

Ben Bleckley is a senior English major. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.

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