For over 10 years, Utahns for Immigration Reform and Enforcement has been working toward reforming the immigration system. Yes, our immigration system may be broken. Yes, the principles of faith, hope, charity, compassion, love and tolerance are admirable virtues.
However, obedience to law, respect for others, hard work, love of country, and self-reliance are also important virtues.
The ineptly named Utah Compact properly declared that immigration is a “federal policy issue,” and we should not “unnecessarily separate families.” It also stated the need to “respect the rule of law and support law enforcement.” It espoused “humane treatment” and “the spirit of inclusion” while “reflecting our unique culture and history.”
Who can disagree with these admirable ideas and actions?
The basic problem with Utah Compact lies in its intended deception and its failure to define “immigrant.” Does this term refer to “a person who leaves one country to settle in another,” in a law abiding fashion of respect for their new country? Or does it refer to “An alien who has been granted the right by the U.S. Child and Immigration Services to reside permanently in the United States and to work without restrictions in the United States”?
Is an “unauthorized alien” an immigrant or simply an interloper? To be an unauthorized alien means that the person is neither “lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or authorized to be so employed.”
We continue to hear calls for immigration “reform,” which usually reflects bringing people out of the shadows, or legalizing them, or, in the now unspeakable term, giving them amnesty.
In addition to using sophistry in defining immigrant, defining reform descends to the level of simple propaganda to achieve the political purpose of granting amnesty and rewarding illegal behavior with arguably one of the most coveted goals of multitudes of the world population: United States citizenship.
Yes, our immigration system does need some reform. Let me attempt to define some basic ideas for true immigration reform:
America needs a clarification of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on “Birthright Citizenship.” Shouldn't parents of an infant have some connection to this country? The current interpretation yields the euphemistic term “anchor babies” effectively allowing parents (and siblings) a claim to avoid deportation.
Chain migration (family visas), coupled with that birthright misinterpretation, eventually allows further legal visas for relatives.
Reform needs to include proper employment verification with appropriate penalties on employers who ignore the law. Laws are already in place to do so, they just need to be enforced for both the employee and the employer.
Border security must be tightened, but interior employment enforcement would eliminate much of the need. If there is no control over borders, is there really a nation?
Visa entry exit control is basically part of border security, the laws have been enacted, so enforce them. Past-allowed misfeasance of the visa system has wreaked havoc on this nation.
Do we need reform for more workers? With the current unemployment rate, we are probably not in great need of more employees. If so, set up a rational system to allow more qualified immigrants as needed.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 promised border security with employment verification with the amnesty – security never happened, but amnesty certainly did. Will we learn from history or will we simply repeat past mistakes?
Robert Wren is a long-time activist on immigration issues and the current chair of Utahns for Immigration Reform and Enforcement.