Take a number, get in line

Mar 302006

During the past week, tens of thousands of protestors from across the nation marched in opposition to recent talks in the government regarding a stricter immigration policy. On Wednesday, the United States Senate began a two-week-long debate on whether the estimated 12 million illegal aliens living within our borders should be granted access to a guest worker program or amnesty, or if another plan should be enacted altogether.

At immigration’s peak in the early 1900s, we were welcoming people from all corners of the globe into our country, with the majority entering via Ellis Island in New York, according to EllisIsland.org.

Times have since changed.

Now, more than half of all illegal aliens penetrate the border from Mexico, making their way into California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with many continuing even farther north.

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected a plan that would have increased border jumping to a felony crime rather than what it is now, a mere misdemeanor. This is unfortunate. At times when terrorist threats and rhetoric regarding such matters are high, it seems preventative actions are low. Illegal immigration is an offense serious enough to be considered a felony.

But terrorism concerns aside, immigration places an economic burden on the budgets of federal, state and local governments and their people. A study conducted in 2004 by the Center for Immigration Studies confirms wages of workers fall when immigrants increase the size of the workforce, whether they are legal or illegal. This shows the argument that illegal immigrants are an attribute to our workforce is false. At least legal immigrants pay taxes and contribute to the betterment of the American society.

It is not fair to ask legal citizens to pay taxes to support government programs and services that benefit people who don’t contribute. These illegal aliens use public resources such as libraries, roads and schools and benefit from police and fire services, yet pay nothing in return. Legal citizens who pay taxes should be outraged by the fact their money is helping those who have broken the law.

I admit, it would be inconceivable to weed out and round up all illegal aliens and ship them back to their respective homelands. It would not be far-fetched, however, to allow those illegal aliens who are here time to apply for temporary status. This would mean they would have to register with the government and pass a background test. Once this step is completed, they would be allowed to legally work and… are you ready for this one? Pay taxes. While working, they could apply for permanent citizenship.

Once the time frame for applying for temporary status has expired, the U.S. government should make illegal immigration a felony crime and vigorously revamp border security in order to keep out potential threats.

A nation cannot properly function with people disregarding its rules and regulations. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what is taking place here. According to CNN.com, an estimated one million new immigrants each year flood our borders with a lack of regard to America’s laws. To those people, I say, take a number and get in line.

Jeremy Trujillo is a sophomore speech communications and political science double major. He is a layout designer for the Collegian.

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