Illegal aliens are modern pioneers—but there are consequences.
I advocate increased immigration enforcement. But I don’t criticize immigrants for coming here. Not even the illegal ones. I admire their courage in making such a risky decision. And I admire their hard work to build new lives for their families. I certainly harbor no ill will for the innocent children of illegal immigrants who grew up here. If I lived south of the border, I would do whatever was necessary to enhance the well-being of my family and expand the opportunities of my children—including breaking immigration laws. It’s what parents do. It’s what makes family so essential to our culture.
The illegal aliens are modern pioneers. They would make excellent American citizens.
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I would legalize them in a heartbeat—if only we could just turn off the immigration spigot. But legalizing them without first taking resolute actions to prevent further immigration is just begging for immigration growth. Past amnesties have clearly demonstrated that. Until I see more than just promises to seriously control immigration, I must take an emotionally detached stand against anything that will exacerbate the problem. That includes amnesty and any increase or even maintenance of present immigration levels.
And what is the problem? Population growth.
America’s population has doubled in sixty years. Immigration has been the driver, especially since 1965. And America is not a better place for that growth. We have become acclimated to growth. We have learned to live with congestion, urban sprawl, and environmental degradation. But when I look at the sea of houses, strip malls, office complexes, shopping centers, and manufacturers creeping out into the valleys, up the foothills, up riparian ways, into wetlands, and ever further along our coastlines, I see an environmental catastrophe in the making—in terms of the land we cover, the air we breathe, the pollution and waste we dump everywhere, and the resources we consume. It is that evolutionary quality of population growth that makes it so insidious. Each generation gets used to a bigger footprint and more congestion; and after a few generations, you have—twenty-first century America.
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Why have we done this? We haven’t opened our doors to immigration because we are nice folks and just want to share our blessings. Despite the parable of the American melting pot being a nation of immigrants, there is now and always has been one dominant motivation for allowing mass immigration—cheap labor—which means inexpensive goods, an expanding market for those goods, and easy profits. Big Money, Big Government, and Big Academia so fiercely protect their open-borders growth engine and so ardently justify it under the euphemism of “a nation of immigrants” that throttling that growth engine will not happen painlessly. And the pain will be felt unevenly. It will fall most heavily on those who arrived late in the immigration flood. But should we do nothing just because the cure is painful?
I have a duty to my grandchildren to achieve a sustainable population policy. The established powers, however, are fighting against the environmental sustainability that another doubling of our population would ravage. Such a struggle and fundamental change of immigration policy will have unintended casualties. Some of today’s illegal-alien pioneers may be on that list.
It is essential for Americans to safeguard our wonderful physical and cultural environment for the sake of the progeny of all those immigrants who have come to America over the centuries. If we don’t, the natural consequences of population growth will continue to degrade the ingredients that have made our country exceptional.
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