By Paul Moomjean 07/31/2014
Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage recently came out against President Barack Obama for dropping eight illegal immigrants on his state’s front porch, stating, “It is wrong for the federal government to force a higher burden on the people of Maine to pay for those who come to our country illegally.” LePage went on to add, “We cannot become a state that encourages illegal immigration. We simply cannot afford it.” Welcome to the conversation, New England. Where have you been the last 30 years? Immigration is the hot-button issue right now, and it’s becoming everyone’s problem these days.
Now, any Southern California resident who read LePage’s argument out loud had to giggle over the idea of eight illegal immigrants being the downfall of a state. We have thousands living in Ventura County alone. But we don’t seem to mind as long as they clean our homes, raise our children and keep costs down by working for cheap at restaurants (both mom-and-pop diners and major chain restaurants). Illegal immigration is the dirty little secret SoCal residents, Texans and Arizona citizens either are used to living with or have decided that “undocumented” workers are like the third cousin you tolerate at family get-togethers. Sure “Cousin Julio” is part of the family, but we just don’t talk much or call or really invest our time in him. But if he wants to enjoy a meal with us, we’ll be cool.
Of course, that is changing in the political spheres. U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, recently found out that if you talk about immigration reform there is a Tea Party team ready to throw you out. I wrote a few weeks ago that Republicans are doomed if the purists throw out the heavy hitters over this issue, and I stand by that. Illegal immigration is too complex to create black and white solutions. If we deport, get ready to watch a shutdown in the economy. If we tear down borders, get ready to watch American culture fade away. If we forget the humanity at issue, get ready for a civil war unlike any before. At the end of the day, these illegal immigrants are people and deserve basic human rights.
Right now Texas is looking to put 1,000 National Guard soldiers on the Mexican border to protect against the influx of illegal immigrants onto our American soil. What Gov. Rick Perry understands is that he needs to do something to look strong as he gears up for a 2016 presidential bid, but nothing so radical as to look militant. President George W. Bush had that image covered when he sent 6,000 National Guard soldiers to the border in 2006. But he was already president. It’s good to be king in the second term; nobody can touch you.
Meanwhile, numbers don’t lie. Immigration is a problem. Approximately 420,000 arrests have occurred on the Mexican border within the last year. That’s down from recent history, but does it necessarily mean there are fewer coming over, or is it possible there isn’t enough help to make the appropriate number of arrests? Another issue is that 90 percent of illegal immigrant children have been teenagers. These are kids who see the corruption in their homelands and are willing to risk their life to come to the U.S. That is why this issue is so complex. Today’s American teenagers are too lazy or apathetic to risk their lives to create a life. Mexico’s teenagers are not going to let the cartels and poverty stop them. It’s rather “1776-ish” if you ask me.
We must have some understanding of the situation, and conservatives need to take the charge. Mexican immigrants are the hardest-working people entering America. They take on multiple jobs, and they don’t ask for handouts. If the Republican Party was smart, they’d welcome them in through work and military programs, and not protest on the border with Bibles and signs.
All good conservatives should ask, “What would Reagan do?” They might be surprised to know he brought immigrants in, and America was stronger than ever. There is an obvious border war right now. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Republicans could win one war in my lifetime?