Immigration: Does U.S. need reform or enforcement of laws?

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I was listening to an immigration “expert” on a radio program who was giving the audience his take on what the immigration reform legislation in Congress will do if passed. A question occurred to me so I called into the show, “Could you tell me what the Congress got wrong in the Immigration Bill of 1986 that the Congress today wants to reform?”

The “expert” paused and then blurted, “No, I know nothing about the law they are trying to reform.”

I said the next day on my talk radio program that it takes a special kind of stupid to reform a bill that no one has read with a bill that none of the legislators will read because it has too many pages. Yep, a special kind of stupid has taken over our country.

So everyone is arguing about the immigration reform bill of 2013 without anyone actually reading it. Much like ObamaCare, which also was not read because it had too many pages, this legislation will have to be passed to see what is really in it and what it all means. That is a very bad way to do government.

As to immigration in general, I like what former prime minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair says is the test of a country: How many want in and how many want out? Obviously, our country is very much desired since we have many who want in and few who want out.

Immigration has been going on for hundreds of years that I know of and, perhaps, longer. One indigenous tribe was displaced by another over hundreds of years and then the Europeans came. As quickly as we formed a country, we made CARLA J. SONTAGG: Planned use of hold-harmless funds is not what state intended our first immigration bill in 1790, which restricted naturalization to “free white persons” of “good moral character.” Not a great day for America.

Within a hundred years, Americans were trying to exclude the Chinese who came, built part of the transcontinental railroad and prospered.

In the early 20th century, we attempted to exclude Japanese but they immigrated to Hawaii and then slipped into the rest of our country. Franklin Roosevelt stopped immigration pretty much entirely during the Depression and sent home perhaps as many as two million Mexicans. Many of these Mexicans came back to work during the war and for the next 40 years.

Of those people in our country, some were legal and some did not have legal status. In 1986, another stab was made at dealing with immigration because at least three million people were in the United States illegally. So they were given amnesty and the 1986 act made it illegal to hire people without legal status.

Further, the act mandated intensification of the Border Patrol so that no new people could come into our country illegally.

So now we have a reform of that legislation to mandate making sure people can no longer come into our country illegally and to give amnesty. Wait, how is that reforming the 1986 bill? There is exactly no reform, that is what the 1986 legislation mandates. So is the problem that we did not have the right law, or that we did not enforce the law?

Throughout the many years of our country, the number one issue in immigration asks that the people coming to our country be of benefit to our country.

We cannot take a billion refugees from the slums of the world in and still have a country.

But we really do want the best and brightest of any country if they wish to be a citizen of our country. We are made stronger by these people.

The issue before the Congress is to decide if the failing of the Immigration Act of 1986 that people today want to reform is a failure of law or enforcement.

If the failure was enforcement, then passing new laws will have no effect on the problem.

I like people from other countries. Americans need them in our country. We also need to uphold our laws. Can we do both?

(Michael Swickard hosts the syndicated radio talk show News New Mexico from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming.) )) Email