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Immigrating to America Is Not an Entitlement

Immigration law may be broken but you don't fix it by rewarding law breakers.

by
Ying Ma

Bio

May 15, 2013 - 12:11 am
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As the drumbeat for comprehensive immigration reform grows louder, the related public debate has not become any more edifying.  Self-serving Democrats, delusional Republicans, and shameless illegal aliens (who prefer to call themselves “immigration rights activists”) insist that legalizing some 11 million illegal immigrants in this country is the right thing to do and label those who disagree as anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic.

Amid the finger pointing and political intimidation, some fundamentally flawed assertions have repeatedly surfaced. Below is some common sense that highlights the absurdity of the faulty assumptions.

Immigrating to the United States is a privilege, not a right. It certainly is not an entitlement program.

Proponents of comprehensive immigration reform like to emphasize that America’s immigration system is broken, and they are right. Yet they often justify illegal immigration by pointing out that even if aspiring immigrants wanted to get in line for legal immigration, many do not have a line to get into — because they do not have relatives in this country with whom to reunite or they cannot qualify for a limited number of visa categories (such as those for work, education, or investment).

Few acknowledge that in life, reality is by nature more unpleasant than our most fervent wishes. Just because people really, really want to come to the United States does not mean they have the right to do so.

By numerous measures, America’s tax system is broken as well, and supporters of limited government resent the fact that their tax dollars are extracted to fund a bloated welfare state they despise. Nevertheless, these individuals continue to pay their taxes. Similarly, those who wish to move to America should not be excused from respecting this country’s laws.

Certainly, changes to the existing system should be made. For instance, proposals to increase the flow of high-skilled labor make perfect sense. But America’s broken immigration system is not a justification for illegals to walk across the border or overstay their visas.

Do not let anyone obfuscate the difference between legal and illegal immigration. Denouncing the latter does not mean being hostile to the former.

This country has a legal immigration process in place. It is by no means perfect and imposes cumbersome restrictions. Nevertheless, that process is the law of the land. Numerous individuals from around the world follow it out of respect for the rule of law and for the country they wish to adopt as their new home. They make huge sacrifices, incur heavy financial costs, and wait patiently. Husbands are separated from their wives for years; siblings wait over a decade to be reunited; and high-skilled laborers whose visas are not renewed end up returning to their home countries. Reform efforts to ease the restrictions for these legal applicants are sensible, but amnesty for those who have violated U.S. immigration laws not only rewards bad behavior; it dishonors and dismisses the persistence and sacrifice of legal immigrants.

No matter how politicians spin it, offering provisional legal status to illegals is rewarding them with amnesty.

The right to live and work in the United States is a precious commodity. It is also precisely what the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight proposes to offer to illegal aliens who are already here. Although these individuals must wait ten years to apply for a green card and 13 to apply for citizenship, they would be eligible for provisional legal status almost immediately.

To be sure, these illegal immigrants would have to pay a fine, pay taxes, and not have a serious criminal record before they qualify for provisional legal status, but these conditions hardly amount to a stiff punishment for lawbreaking behavior. In fact, they form the baseline of what America demands from immigrants who seek to enter this country legally.

More importantly, legal status in America — even if short of a green card or citizenship — is a status coveted by millions around the world. Impoverished men and women in sub-Saharan Africa, unemployed or under-employed college graduates in China or India, political and religious dissidents who are persecuted by authoritarian governments from Tehran to Moscow, or even scientists from Canada or Europe would gladly accept provisional legal status TODAY if it were offered to them. Numerous legal immigration applicants who are currently standing in line would do the same, especially since many have waited and will continue to wait for years.

But it is America’s existing illegal immigrants who will receive preference for the right to live and work in the United States.

Offering a pathway to citizenship to illegal aliens who arrived in America when they were young only strengthens the incentives for more illegal immigration.

Republicans and Democrats have been falling all over themselves to offer a pathway to citizenship to young illegal immigrants who are known as Dreamers. According to President Barack Obama, these are “young Americans in all but name.” Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has written that these are “children who were brought here illegally have committed no crime and in most instances know no other country.” Thanks to Obama, these young illegals have now received a two-year reprieve and a chance to apply for work permits, assuming they have no criminal records, are successful in school, or have served in the military. The Senate’s Gang of Eight has proposed offering Dreamers a fast track to citizenship, which begins with a five-year path to a green card.

Before politicians on both sides of the aisle gush about their effort to create new Americans, let’s not forget that in the immigration experience, children are not just innocent bystanders of an illegal act. Rather, they are often the primary reason for a family to leave one life to seek another in a foreign land. They are the impetus for adults to work at sub-minimum-wage jobs and the reward for a family’s hard work and shared sacrifice. It is for their brighter future that immigrants — both legal and illegal — fight. By rushing to give them amnesty, Congress would be strengthening, not weakening, the incentives for illegal immigration.

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Top Rated Comments   
The one really huge thing that people don't talk about is that illegals don't really want to become Americans. They want the percs of legal status but don't want the responsibilites. They want to be able to cross the border with the ease of American citizens, work in America without the hassle of ICE, and suckle at the teat of our entitlements and healthcare system. They don't want to pay taxes, pay automobile insurance, etc. This is a radical departure from the immigrants of yesterday who came here to become Americans and build a life here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We Americans have, in a sense, brought this bizarre situation upon ourselves.
We are in the clutches of politicians that we ourselves have elected, and these smilin' politicians are out trolling for new voter blocs [sources], and illegal immigrants are just panting to say "I'll vote for YOU if You make me legal." Politicians everywhere are squirming, sweating.

We should not be waiting breathlessly for meaningful immigration reform from these equal-opportunity [i.e. bi-partisan] hypocritical Congressmen and Senators.

We must all recognize that we're going through a nationwide leveling, lowest common denominator, social revolution of the ill-educated and entitlement seeking new demographic majority.

We Americans have drifted completely away from our 18th-19th Century Democracy.

Now, to emphasize, we no longer have a merit-ocracy we have a free for all government entitlement-cracy.



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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Gosh, I didn't know that PJ does not let you edit comments. I only uploaded the draft, hence the typos etc. Apologies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ying Ma,

There is a lot of simplistic and uncharitable rhetoric in this piece.

First off, it serves to know the history of the United States before you unleash anti-immigrant rhetoric targeted primarily at Mexicans (and other Latinos). In the seventeenth century, When the British and then the Europeans first immigrated to populated this land, all they needed was enough money to pay for the sea voyage. They, along with their families, could escape poverty, violence, religious persecution in Europe, come to America and call it home.

Of course, American cannot have that sort of open door immigration now, but the United States must adhere to the principle of granting refuge to the persecuted and hope and opportunity to the hopeless. In the latter case at least, I think United States' neighboring countries should get preferential treatment (if not exclusive treatment).

Moreover, all the so called Mexican illegals are the backbone of American economy doing all the menial labor and crummy jobs that Americans (both white and non white) wont do. Many businesses, factories, farms, restaurants and fast food joints all over the United States would go bust if they cannot find workers to replace these immigrants that you want deported as soon as possible. Not to mention millions of Americans will be without domestic help, nannies, gardeners, janitors, cleaners and so on!

Read history and you will see how people of Chinese origin who came to American Pacific shores during The Gold Rush, how they stayed on, they worked so hard and sacrificed so much, it was only with their labor, sweat and blood that a massive project like The Transcontinental Railway could complete. And then they were treated like animals and refused residence or citizenship. The same thing is happening to those Mexicans who have contributed to the American economy and life for years and years without getting any rewards.

Why shouldn't some of these hard working, persevering, sacrificing workers get legal status so that they can work legally, support their families and children born and raised in American? Moreover, only through legal status will they be able to pay taxes to the American economy.

As you claim, I don't think that many educated, wannabe legal immigrants would accept to move to the United States if they're under constant probation for 10 years and cannot become citizens until 13th year! They would rather go to many of the other Western immigrant countries and regions-- Canada, UK, EU, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand--- to have their full rights and lead a NORMAL life.

Lastly, again, coming back to the history: These so called Mexicans and Latinos have lived in the Americas much before the Europeans came. Even after the settlement of Northeastern America--beginning with the Pilgrims--there was no such thing as the United States of America with 50 states. You need to do a little history reading and then you will realize that it was only in the 1800s that much of the American South West, California and Texas were annexed from Mexico through bloody wars.

Hypothetically speaking, What if today the Mexicans say, okay, we can leave your country, but since you're in favor of righteousness and upholding the law, we also urge you that you should give all these lands back to Mexico? Adios!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, Ying Ma, you offer up some very 'simplistic' observations and nothing in the realm of reality for nearly 200 plus years of 'illegal' immigration at both the governments convenience and of course blatant illegal entry now estimated at 11M plus. In a perfect world there would be no illegal immigration problem but that is not reality. What exactly, do you propose we do with 11M plus illegal immigrants many of whom have been here through generational families -- especially mexicans and chinese?

I've taken note of how the far right think-tank policy makers like to dwell on only the subjective 'cost' side and ignore the fairly established data on economic 'contribution' side. Do you have an answer for that?

Sure, illegal immigration has been out of control forever but, I think if we're to solve the problem we have to deal with it from a point of reality and not some degree of radical political ideology. What is your proposed soultion?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have a lot of friends who have legally immigrated, spent thousands of dollars on lawyers, spent a decade or more waiting and are now citizens. They have professional skills that are in demand in the US. That's how it is supposed to work. They had some difficulties, some setbacks along the way, but they appreciate America and are grateful to be here. They think being able to work here is a privilege. To my knowledge, none of them has accepted public assistance. They have weathered the recession without layoffs because they do work that is in demand.

Citizenship is a privilege. I don't think any of us—citizen, legal immigrant, illegal alien—should be guaranteed citizenship. I don't want citizenship to be cheapened by granting it to whomever whines and cries the loudest.

People are always saying that we are a country of immigrants. That's partly true. While I've had a few ancestors that consciously thought of themselves as immigrants from Germany and France (my great-grandmother used to swear in French), most of my ancestors were British citizens who traveled on British ships to British colonies. They didn't think they were immigrants any more than someone who travels from Cornwall to York. They had a tiff with the Crown and Parliament and became Americans. They wanted freedom from tyranny, the chance to own their own land outright as a lord did in England. They wanted the right bear arms to hunt and protect their land and home without having to petition some noble for the boon.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
the only people receiving benefits need a translator. if you don't believe that stop into your local hospital.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The fact of the matter is that no one in Washington has yet to describe what is actually wrong with existing law and regulations. I suspect that is because there is nothing actually wrong except in their enforcement. The only outcome of "reform" will be amnesty, a new round of entitlements, a larger underclass, and as Ma has already stated: reinforced incentives for more illegal entry.

This thing is a political and financial IED.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem with the long existing laws is, that in reality, they are essentially impossible to enforce at any reasonable economic cost. We essentially have thousands of miles of open borders of which we only have a northern border with some limited but viable external government assistance -- Canada.

Actually, its more like an IUD made of a screen mesh and political only for vote pandering by both sides.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no reason for any immigration of any kind. We are not short of people but we are short of jobs. The suicide cult called the political Left has undone us all. In truth, immigration will never stop. We'll be 500 million, then a billion and our ancestors will spit on us for not tending such a wonderful garden more carefully, rather than letting the dregs of failed cultures come here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Fail, we should be spitting on ourselves, now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nobody likes to remember how much of this country, starting early on, was progressively built by illegal immigrants shipped in to do the work and never given citizenship. Nothing has changed much!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I simply don't understand why politicians that we elected, believe that they have a greater duty to illegals than they do to us.
When you've got a busted pipe in the house, the first thing the plumber does is turn the water off at the street, to limit further damage. So too with illegal immigration. Seal the border first, them work on the illegals who are here.
Look at any version of the administrative procedures that govern these outrageous proposals. All that I've seen/read have provisions that would trouble a CPA. Does any American trust a federal employee to distinguish between an illegal who says he got here before a certain date and one who appears to have gotten here after a key date?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While saying that illegal aliens *ahem* immigrants are a problem, many of our political and business leaders benefit from their presence. I've been to a few foreign countries. There are ways to seal borders tight. Ever seen a no-man's-land up close? "Perigo Minas!" posted along the border with the accompanying accessories would stop a lot of illegal crossings with little man power. Of course the usual groups would complain.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The one really huge thing that people don't talk about is that illegals don't really want to become Americans. They want the percs of legal status but don't want the responsibilites. They want to be able to cross the border with the ease of American citizens, work in America without the hassle of ICE, and suckle at the teat of our entitlements and healthcare system. They don't want to pay taxes, pay automobile insurance, etc. This is a radical departure from the immigrants of yesterday who came here to become Americans and build a life here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good article but wrong title. Actually in today's political climate immigrating to America has become an entitlement, the only stipulation being that they have to vote for Democrats.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Most of my friends who have taken the legal route of immigration and citizenship now are conservatives. They see the liberals espousing the same ideas that caused the problems in their home countries and caused them to leave. So of course Washington doesn't want that kind of immigrant here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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