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Immigration is a complex and controversial issue in these United States. But it need not be the intractable problem it appears if we developed more political will to decide upon a good and workable way to go.

I’m already on record supporting immigrants’ desire for American citizenship. I do not consider immigrants ipso facto a threat to American values and way of life. In fact, I consider immigrants a rich part of the American story. Their record of aspiration, pluck, hard work, and achievement are wonderful examples representing the best of American ideals.

I don’t understand any leaders, particularly those who call themselves Christian, who make all immigrants sound like terrorists. It’s possible, of course, that terrorists could come to this country via immigration, but it’s not clear this is happening or has happened, even in the recent Manhattan truck killer, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov from Uzbekistan, living in the US since 2010.

Categorical rejection of all Middle Easterners or North Africans as threatening potential terrorists is ethnic prejudice and parochialism. I don’t consider these attitudes American and certainly not Christian.

This does not mean I’m against protecting U.S. borders, developing a reasonable and defensible immigration policy, including banning immigration from some countries for periods of time if national security warrants it, nor establishing criteria for what immigrants must be able to demonstrate before they are permitted to enter, remain in the country, and begin a path to citizenship.

I do not believe that “everyone” from other countries has a “right” to come to America as an immigrant and thus the U.S. has no legal right to turn certain people away. To believe this is to believe nations should not or cannot exist.  None of this is anti-immigrant or racist as is often portrayed by the Left.

I don’t like the idea of a wall on the southern border of the United States. I know nearly 700 miles of fencing already exists along the 2,000 mile U.S.- Mexico border.  I realize this fencing may be necessary in contemporary security terms, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the reality or the symbolism. Building a wall to keep people out of the United States, for me, flies in the face of the Statue of Liberty and American ideals. But again, I recognize this may be my idealism and something that may not be able to stand in the face of hard reality. Or is there a better way?

As a nation of immigrants, we’ve developed notable legal immigration processes before, during the T. Roosevelt and Reagan Administrations to name two examples.  Why not again now?

At a minimum, Congress needs to do the following:

  • Recognize that the vast majority of immigrants want to come to the United States to secure the prospects of a better life for them and their children via the freedom this country and economy affords.
  • Secure American borders from those who wish to do us harm. This means we must develop a more sophisticated, coordinated, and administered system of accepting or rejecting internationals who wish to enter this country.
  • Develop a guest worker program that is logical and is easy to administer.
  • Create a process through which illegal immigrants presently in this country can work systematically toward American citizenship.
  • Develop a better and more extensive approach to teaching English as a second language and require immigrants seeking American citizenship to enroll, learn, and pass conversational English tests.
  • Recognize assimilation is not a bad thing, and it does not mean a person must reject his or her heritage. It means that the person who wants to become a citizen of this country works to develop basic knowledge and skills that allow him or her to function productively in this free economy. 

I do not reject illegal immigrants carte blanche. I do not think that as a category they are a threat to what makes America a good and decent free country. Rather, they are an asset who should be assisted, treated with dignity and respect, and then given certain incentives or expectations for attaining citizenship. Does the United States Congress and President have the political will to develop an immigration policy and process fit for the 21st Century?

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

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