Archbishop DiNardo of Houston, in the local interfaith press conference of 4/24/06, laid out these priorities for "reform that secures our borders, leads to quicker family reunification, and makes it possible for those who want to come to this country to work to be treated with respect and human dignity." Later in the same remarks he changes the order, but says that needed legislation "maintains our ideals as a nation of immigrants, restores the rule of law, and protects the homeland." It seems that common sense leads all minds to the same rough set of conclusions. It is to be hoped that the faith-based groups are sincere about all the priorities, however, and not using lip-service to the "justice" to obtain the "mercy." Both are needed in the writing of good laws.
Here are the needs that an immigration bill should address:
- First, there is a very legitimate concern about national security. One of these moments, something bad will happen because of the inattention to basic monitoring, if not control, of what's happening on the northern and southern borders. What exists now is not acceptable, and the U.S. apparently has no stomach to enforce existing law.
- Second, the 12-plus million human bsings here need some way to be regularized. Those who wish to become citizens need a path to citizenship. A responsible immigration agency must have the same kind of information about these workers that the government has, constitutionally, on citizens. They should pay taxes, and if they do, folks won't object to the benefits they receive as a matter of human concern and compassion.
- Third, a good assessment needs to be made of the nation's labor needs in order to determine future immigration policy. The latter should be keyed to the former, so that some equilibrium is established. A nation with 4.7% unemployment will have legitimate needs for imported labor.
- Fourth, the situation in Mexico needs to be addressed by the Mexican government. It isn't unfair to say that immigration to the U.S. provides the safety valve to release pressures that would otherwise destabilize and radicalize that nation. The Mexicans must address their corrupt government. If they don't, we'll find our soldiers there building a society instead of in the Middle East. I'd rather be fighting the bad guys on the other side of the world rather than a few hundred miles from my front door.
OK, politicians, now you have the program. I think there's something here for every side. Get to work.