CALIFORNIA June 28, 2013 – Trying to attack all our nation’s immigration problems in one over-arching piece of legislation is a sure sign we’re being taken for fools. A comprehensive immigration reform package will only serve the interests of politicians by using a sleight of hand called compromise. But it could also be the ruin of our nation.
The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act was supposed to solve the illegal immigration problem once and for all. It’s become instead a classic illustration of how untrustworthy Congress can be. Besides granting amnesty to upwards of three and a half million people, it promised to secure our borders and enforce strict employment laws.
Amnesty occurred, but upwards of 15 million unlawful intruders have since entered our nation, and laws forbidding the hiring of those here illegally are still unenforced.
What went wrong in 1986?
Granting amnesty trivialized the stigma of breaking immigration laws and relieved the public pressure Congress was under for not taking action sooner. At the same time, the border and employment issues were exposed for what they were: hollow promises.
Congress never intended to secure our borders or punish employers of those here illegally. These were just “sweet nothing” compromises to placate enough members of Congress to ensure amnesty was approved.
One generation later, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 would remind us, “there’s nothing new under the sun”. Much of Congress is willing to grant some form of legal status to those who are here illegally, and then begin to secure the border and enforce the laws of the land.
Unfortunately, we’re not talking about several million people; we’re talking about one of every 20 inhabitants in our nation having no legal status to be here. But that’s not all. The cumulative impact includes: public school and prison overcrowding and financial shortfalls; raiding of entitlement programs; the closing of hospitals at record rates; devastating inner city gang violence; and a myriad of other problems that are creating a public safety and economic civil war of sorts.
We should not forget in this list of harms southern border drug and human trafficking, property damage, random violence and environmental impacts.
So where are our leaders focusing their attention? In back room political antics in the Senate and the House of Representatives; in proposing amendments that would most embarrass the opposition; in manipulating economic data to fit their pet solutions; and in the one-upmanship of creatively proposing penalties once the newly legalized seek citizenship.
The most self-serving political games, however, are intended to impact the voting patterns of these future citizens and the families they’ll almost certainly bring here.
Without doubt, our nation has always tried to fulfill the imperatives of Mark 12:31 and Matthew 25:35-40 by showing compassion and generosity towards the less fortunate. This has been true for areas around the world when catastrophes hit, as well as welcoming immigrants that want to be productive and valuable members to our national experiment. But we also have a justifiable concern for the proper rule of law and a desire to not be continually taken advantage of.
It’s clear that those in our nation illegally have no right to be here. It’s also clear that political leaders who see this crisis as just an opportunity for personal political gain don’t deserve the office they hold. And remember, history shows Congress can’t be trusted to fulfill promises of “future reform” once any immediate public pressure is relieved.
We know that lack of border security (both illegal border crossings and alien overstays) is the single greatest contributor to our current intolerable situation. It’s obvious, therefore, that border issues must be Congress’ first action, consistent with being a sovereign nation (Acts 17:26) before any other actions are seriously considered. If this doesn’t happen, nothing else really matters.
Ultimately, however, controlling access into our nation isn’t enough. Incentives to stay here, such as employment and access to our ridiculously unaccountable entitlement programs need reform also. When economic incentives dry up, some “self-deportation” will follow that will naturally a bit of the economic and social pressure our nation is experiencing. This has already been observed during the recent extended recession.
Prudence would say reform measures in these three areas should be independently and sequentially debated and implemented before any of the more contentious matters relating to legalization and citizenship are decided. This is very consistent with the Ecclesiastes 7:27 building block approach to first understand and then correct a problem.
It’s taken decades of Congressional inaction for our nation to get to this point. Taking a few years to methodically correct the obvious problems, and in the right order, will go a long ways to keeping Congress accountable to do its job while preventing another “comprehensive” reform debacle.
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