Saturday, June 02, 2007

Georgia Senators Misguided in Support of Immigration Reform

I got an email from Senators Chambliss and Isackson this morning outlining their position on the Immigration reform bill. There is so much wrong with this it's hard to address it all. So I thought I would tackle just one paragraph. They wrote:

We are seeking to ensure that any reform ends the practice of "chain migration," where nearly two-thirds of green cards now are awarded to relatives of those who are already here. Green cards should be issued on a merit system that measures the contributions a potential green card holder would bring to the United States. We must have a better balance between the need for family connections and the critical economic needs of our country.

Here's my response...

I read the AJC commentary you forwarded this morning, and as a longtime conservative and a heretofore Republican voter, I must respectfully disagree with several of the positions you have taken in support of the Immigration bill. Let me address a couple of your positions that do not align with the values and principles that I, and many other conservatives hold dear.

First the proposed restrictions on "chain migration" are directly opposed to the conservative value of the strong, traditional family structure. When a new immigrant, whether already naturalized or only admitted for permanent residency, brings in family members, those family members provide both social and financial support to help the family succeed as they build their American dream. Think of the stories of entire families living in a small apartment over their business while they work for years to save and advance their position in society. These families don't stay "poor immigrants" forever. They grow their businesses and become productive new Americans.

Many a successful American family, including mine, can point back to that first family member who came, "got established" then brought over more family. My English ancestors did it in the 1600's, my Irish ancestors in the 1840's, German in the 1890's, and Italian in the 1910's. They had immigrant "communities" but those communities were built on families. This is a foundation that has served America well. How can we deny that opportunity for success to future generations of immigrants? We shouldn't. If we value the important role that family plays in making anyone successful, we cannot put new restrictions on legal immigrants' ability to bring in those family members closest to them.

Secondly, there should be no "merit system that measures the contributions a potential green card holder would bring to the United States." There should be no new restrictions that require special educational or professional qualifications to become an American. Imposing such a requirement goes against the American principle that America provides opportunity to all, regardless of background, who are willing to work hard to advance their situation. People come to America because of the opportunity here. Those who have the opportunity to get a good education or special qualifications in their native country are the ones who least need the ability to emigrate, to "find something better."

Such restrictions ignore the fact that almost every American is descended from someone who gave up everything familiar and close, to come here in search of something better. That is a huge act. It is a huge leap of faith in one's own abilities, a tolerance for risk, and the promise of a better future. The people who made that leap are different from the ones who stayed home. They became Americans. Not because they had qualifications, but because they were willing to risk it all for the promise that is America. How can we deny that promise to future generations?

We can't. We shouldn't. Do not support this bill. It violates core American values. Let "immigration reform" die the quick death it deserves.

Give the executive branch the resources it needs to enforce the existing laws. That is the only true conservative position.

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