Marines.Together We Served

Monday, April 24, 2006

One Nation

This past weekend was the annual Asparagus Festival held in Stockton, California. As a member of the Stockton Marine Corps Club, I volunteered to help man the gates Sunday afternoon. Several of us sat in booths where we sold tickets to the general public.

One of the club members asked me if I was ever going to write about the illegal immigrant problem. I said I probably would, but I can’t say I was too excited about addressing something so emotionally charged and highly politicized as “Illegal Immigration.” It is, to use a phrase, something akin to the “third rail” in today’s lexicon of taboo topics.
A source that I have found to be quite informative and extremely knowledgeable is Victor Davis Hanson, “a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a Professor Emeritus at California University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He was a full-time farmer before joining California State University, Fresno, in 1984 to initiate a classics program” (taken from his web site: Hanson is an old school Democrat, much like now retired Senator Zell Miller (D-GA). Hanson’s family goes back several generations as farmers in the San Joaquin Valley of California. He is only too aware of the problems faced by California and other states when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration. Read his current article on his web site, “France’s Immigration Problem – And Ours” April 23.

There are several premises that I would like to make in opening this topic. First, our country is built upon the rule of law. That is to say, we have laws in place to benefit all of society, regardless of where you came from. In the eyes of the rest of the world we are considered to be “law abiding people.” This makes folks comfortable when they visit our country. Case in point: traffic laws. Except for the occasional erratic driver who will most likely be seeing flashing lights in his rearview mirror, Americans are, by and large, safe drivers. Semi trucks stay in the far right lanes on the freeway. We use turn signals to let other drivers know of our intentions. But, travel to, say, the Dominican Republic as I did a few weeks ago, and you have entered your worst driving nightmare. If there are any traffic laws, they are totally unenforceable. There are only two other countries in the world where I have traveled that are worse: South Korea and the Philippines.

Because we are a nation of laws, the laws we have (admittedly, there are far too many) need to be enforced if the rule of law is going to mean anything. Otherwise, you invite anarchy. Laws, therefore, must be obeyed and enforced. To ignore the law is detrimental to the orderliness of any society, creating an atmosphere of distrust and angst. Coupled to that is the impression that the person who has circumvented the law is, in fact, being rewarded for breaking the law.

Depending on your sources, there are currently anywhere from seven to eleven million illegal immigrants in our country. Faced with this daunting reality, I see several very dicey issues. 1) Enforcing the law. Just how do you do that when you’re asking to round up (using the lower figure) seven million people scattered over fifty states. Though the focus of illegal immigrants is mostly on Mexico, estimates indicate only 70% are Mexican. That means practically one in three entering our country illegally is from somewhere else. 2) Logistics. How would you reasonably transfer this many people back to there countries of origin? 3) Cost. Who’s going to pay to have them returned to their countries? Do you want U.S. taxpayers (you) to pay for it? Do you think the receiving countries will pay for it? What do we do with a problem such as Castro emptying his prisons and shipping those prisoners to our shores? You think he’d take them back, let alone pay for it? 4) Births. Many illegal’s have had children and raised families. The U.S. has had an unwritten law that virtually guarantees any child born in the United States is automatically a citizen. So do we send those kids back too?

I’m all for enforcing our laws, but I believe the problem has become virtually unenforceable. I don’t have a good answer, short of Draconian measures. Just be sure to listen to the whole debate as it rages on. There is going to be a lot of grandstanding and politicking this election year. I’m just glad I’m not the one who has to make the decision.

Let me remind you that the Bible is clear that we are to pray for those in authority over us, and “to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men” (Titus 1:1-2).

I will address this further next week, looking at what I believe is a more compelling problem facing our country. And what I believe to be the solution.

We remain “One Nation, Under God.”

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