Why immigration reform is needed now

Published 8:41 am Thursday, July 23, 2009

The United States is the third-largest country in the world both in population and land mass. China and India each have four times as many people as we do. Both Russia and Canada have a lot more uninhabitable frozen tundra than we do. So we are not going to run out of space in this country any time soon. The United Nations estimates approximately 3 million U.S. citizens permanently move to other countries every year. Most are retirees moving to Latin America, but some are younger people going to Europe and Latin America to start a business where they see more opportunity and less regulation. The U.N. also reports that there will be many more illegal immigrants here and in other countries around the world in the future because of war and conflict, hunger and failed governments in their homeland.

Congress is already working on immigration reform. They want to secure our borders, deport those who commit felonies, fine those who come here illegally, keep families together, and then create a path to citizenship for them. Business leaders want them to stay because they have an excellent work ethic. With our aging baby boomer population retiring over the next 20 to 30 years, we need all the workers we can get to keep our economy going.

Anti-immigration sentiment is fueled by so much misinformation, and messages of hate are not welcome in America. Coming into the U.S. illegally is not a violation of civil or criminal law, it is a violation of immigration law. Some have come here without having their documents reviewed; many more came here on a visa and never left again after their visa expired. Someone said California spends $8 billion a year on illegal immigrants. However, those same illegal immigrants pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the California economy each year in goods and services just going about their daily lives. Like anyone else who does not have health insurance, they either pay for health care out of pocket or do without. Those with phony ID and Social Security numbers will pay into the Social Security system but are not eligible to receive any benefits from that system.

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For those God-fearing people who read the Bible, Matthew 25 tells of the punishment to expect for those who do not welcome the stranger or alien among us.

Finally, it’s not just about us and what we want. It’s about our grandchildren, the future of our country and the world. And freedom and justice for all.

Lenore Fries

Albert Lea