The border, security, illegal immigration, and national defense all culminate into what is easily one of the most emotional topics we, as Americans, can discuss. Before we dive into the potentially offensive title of this post, I’d like to offer a little background on the evolution of my beliefs regarding illegal immigration.
Even when I was a young Ai, growing up in the MidWest, I had very strong feelings on illegal immigration. I had grown up respecting the idea of our grandparents coming through Ellis Island, pledging allegiance to our nation, and becoming American citizens. It was an iconic and romantic image that was imprinted on multiple generations of people in this country. It seemed logical to think that if our grandparents could come over here on a steam ship and go through the proper channels to become citizens, then surely, our neighbors to the South could do the same. (minus the steam ship part)
I held onto this belief so tightly, that in a championship debate, I once proclaimed that we should have an electrified fence all along our border. (and I was a teenager at the time… I told you I formed this opinion at an early age) Believe it or not, that (highly insensitive) speech knocked me from the number one spot in the afore mentioned debate. I’ve never forgotten that day, but… I digress.
So, from elementary school until my mid 20′s, I held a very hardline stance on illegal immigration. I was against it. I considered it a national security risk. And I thought it was one of the greatest examples of government incompetence that so many people could come through our borders so easily. Not to mention, the drain it puts on our resources as illegal immigrants milk our social services.
To be honest with you, I still believe a lot of the things I just typed, but my stance isn’t as hardline anymore, and I’ll tell you why. I finally lived in a border state. Two, actually. Texas and California. And I don’t mean the northern parts, either. I mean ground zero. Southern California and San Antonio.
What finally changed in me was that I saw the scope of what we’re dealing with. When I lived in Indiana or Missouri, it seemed pretty “easy” to spot illegal immigrants. I worked, for a while, in the restaurant industry, and we all knew which employees were here illegally. Not only did our non-citizen coworkers tell us that they were illegal, they often clung closely together and spoke hardly any English at all. They stood out like a sore thumb.
Not so in Texas or California. Even after more than five years of immersion in this culture, I cannot definitively tell you who in my community is here legally or otherwise. The population is dense in the first place. Los Angeles County is said to have a population of nearly 10 million people. (that’s larger than the population of any STATE I grew up in by the way)
And while the illegal immigrants I knew in the MidWest clung together and seemed “obvious” to me, the illegal immigrants in many border states blend in freely with the whatever community they inhabit.
This past Sunday, as a thought experiment, I challenged a friend of mine to a “game” of sorts. We sat in a crowded IHOP and tried to figure out who we thought was there legally or illegally. After ten minutes, we gave up without deciding on a single worker or patron. There was just no way to know without demanding that people start randomly showing I.D. And really, is that the society we want to live in?
You see, when we, as conservatives, demand that our politicians vow to deport each and every (illegal) immigrant, it is no different than when the Left demanded Barack Obama close Guantanamo Bay. All we are doing is putting our candidates in a position where they have to promise something that cannot be delivered on, and then they look like a “liar” once they take office. We have to stop doing that.
I still believe that illegal immigration is a national security risk. I still believe that these aliens put a drain on many of our government resources. And I still believe that our government is extremely incompetent for not having a better handle on this. But I now realize that forcing our politicians to promise to round up and deport 11 million people is not a realistic task. We’ve spent several weeks out of this primary making demands that cannot and will not ever be met. And to make matters worse, all this does is further galvanize another minority group into feeling like they HAVE to vote Democrat, because Republicans are “against” them. I’m really at a point where I feel like this immigration litmus test is not productive.
When reading this, please don’t believe it’s a piece that’s “pro amnesty”. I’m not even getting into that part of the conversation at the moment, and even if I was, there are so many differing ideas of what “amnesty” is that it would take more typing than I’m willing to do at the moment.
All I’m saying is that we cannot round up and deport 11 million illegal immigrants, unless we’re willing to approach it with a WW II level of zeal that involves spying on our public and possibly even setting up internment camps. The amount of resources it would take and the level of ill will it would produce wouldn’t even be worth it. We absolutely need to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, and we need to work on deporting the ones that are here, when we find them. But requiring our candidates to promise to round them all up is ultimately a waste of everyones’ energy, and I wish it would stop.
We need to control our country’s borders; that’s an indisputable truth. All I’m asking is that we do it realistically.