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Real Immigration Reform (Winter 2014, Eng 100, featured as class example)


“Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” are the words every American hears and feels a sense of pride, because these are also the words that our fellow men in other countries, “yearning to breathe free,” know our country by. From the original native immigrants to the vikings to Christopher Columbus and the Mayflower, America has always been a nation built off of the dedication of our ancestors wanting to build a freer life for their children. It seems that in this modern day, some Americans have forgotten our accepting roots and others have over-embraced it. How do we find a middle ground?

The problem in our immigration policies in America today is that there is too much government involved. Americans hold on to the federal government as a crutch to lean on when we get tired, all the while forgetting that we could not lean on this crutch during the American revolution for a reason. With the federal government out of the picture, states will be able to decide for themselves what to do with the immigrants. As a result, immigrants will have a choice as to which state they will be able to immigrate to.

The two states with the most different immigration policies are California and Arizona. California just passed a law that will give illegal immigrants a driver’s license, and wants to pave the way for a more “immigrant friendly” state. Arizona has had talk of building a 100 foot wall across the border and deadly force authorized for anyone who wishes to cross, and recently passed a law that will charge illegal immigrants with trespassing just for being on Arizona soil. These two states obviously represent each side of the immigration argument, and will eventually prove which method works the best. By giving both of them the right to do with their border as they please, it will provide a more “people-of-the-country” oriented governance and will show which immigration policy works best for both economical and sociological aspects of the immigration argument.

Arizona loses around $3 million each year, and California’s general fund spends around $10.5 billion annually on legislation related to illegal immigration. The federal government spent $18 billion in 2012 alone on illegal immigration, a cost that is 75% greater than both California and Arizona combined. With all three of those government entities, the cost for illegal immigration adds up to a whopping $31.5 billion. By telling the federal government to go away and leave immigration matters to the states, it will save the American tax payer $18 billion alone. With the economy on the brink of collapse and the tax payer stretched to find resources for themselves, this would take away a small, but important cost to Americans and our children. This sounds great and all, but if the federal government was not involved in the immigration process, how would anyone become a United States citizen?

California’s driver’s license initiative will allow immigrants to establish a residency and enough documentation to work in the state of California. This path will lead to the availability of citizenship applications for all immigrants while they work to support their family. The influx of immigrants will force California to adjust its oppressive small business certification laws in order to allow for more businesses to open up, thus allowing more jobs to be created. In order to not face an imminent economic meltdown due to Arizona completely locking up the border, there would be no way the California legislature could not adjust their laws to allow more business creation. This would make California the pro-immigration and pro-small business state, and lead the way to a more innovative America.

There is no doubt that cultural diversity allows for a greater knowledge and wisdom as to how the world works. America has been the “melting pot” of the world for this reason, and we take great pride in our diversity. Why should an imposing government decide how we deal with the men we share our land with? If you are an individual who is able to apply your skills to help the community, why should you be barred from doing so? If there is a state who does not want workers to help the community, then why should they be forced to take them? Ultimately, whether you are skilled, or willing to learn a skill, accepting everyone we share the world with makes us a greater species – ones who are able to think outside of our realm and connect with our fellow men. It is insulting that an “all knowing” government has the right to decide that one person is more deserving than another to live on this land. As long as we separate ourselves from one another with labels such as “legal” and “illegal,” we fail to recognize that that family of eight might very well need that job the father got while standing outside of Home Depot. It takes away the human aspect of our characters, something that is very dangerous for an entire population to do.

There are a few different ways to view immigration, but I think that the ultimate way to view it is as a part of human nature. We have and always will be a nomadic species, and dealing with this instinct will forever be a challenge. My solution is to stop trying to control it, and just let it run its course. We should not have to spend our time and resources on stopping an animal instinct. Stop spending our great-grand children’s future on getting people to stay in or out of our country, because we are not going to be around to watch them suffer as they try to pay off the deficit that was started long before we were even born. We are Americans: the most adaptable people in the world. Let’s stay that way.


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