Inside the Capitol

Thursday, May 18, 2006

5-22 Immigration Solutions

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Almost all conversations these days seem to quickly turn to immigration and the DaVinci Code.
It's nice having something more interesting than the weather to talk about. And most everyone has an opinion on both subjects. We'll talk about immigration today since Congress appears as though it might finally be ready to do something.
The congressional solution may be remarkably similar to what President Bush has proposed, even though the president's proposal has been getting severe criticism from both sides of the aisle.
It may have just enough of what both sides want to at least get it through the U.S. Senate. Then comes the fight with the House in conference committee.
Boiled down to its basics, we must make it much more difficult to enter this country illegally and easier to get in legally. The devil is in the details, as they say.
Is building a fence the way to keep illegals out? That appears to be the way Congress is headed. Remember that the Great Wall of China never kept an enemy out, or anyone else who really wanted to get in.
Maybe there is a hi-tech solution, today, that China didn't have, but fences and National Guard troops seem too simple a solution. As long as conditions in Mexico and countries to the south remain as miserable, people will find a way into the Land of Opportunity.
Judging from what I hear from readers, more of the congressional debate should focus on Mexico and its role in our problem. Our porous border is a great jobs program for Mexico.
Reportedly, the Mexican government has issued a pamphlet with helpful hints on how to sneak into the United States. The money sent by workers back to relatives in Mexico totals $20 billion a year.
But entering Mexico legally is a different story. I have received several e-mails with horror stories about Americans trying to go to Mexico to live or work. Mexico has threatened to go to court to gain more rights for its illegal immigrants in this country, but denies those same rights to Americans legally entering Mexico.
And newspapers have carried numerous stories of how Mexican authorities chase, rob and beat Central Americans coming through their country on the way to the United States.
Reader Richard Hannemann suggests a modern-day Ellis Island, where immigrants are welcomed not as guests but as potential citizens if they get a job and integrate into the American fabric.
Americans I talk to seem proud of our Ellis Island days. We admitted a lot of immigrants during that period. Fear that such an influx would make us an Irish, Jewish, German or Italian nation closed it down.
But in retrospect, we realize those fears were unfounded. Each culture lent its flavor to our nation. But none of them took over. They didn't want to. They came here because they wanted to be Americans.
Americans needn't fear that we will lose our language or culture. The rest of the world has much more reason to fear losing their language and culture to Americans.
During our foreign travels, my wife and I are constantly amazed to see signs and billboards, not in the native language, but in English. We have conquered much of the world economically and culturally. And as we can see from the Middle East situation, some countries take offense.
Of course, the handful of immigrants who want to take back the American Southwest for Mexico don't help. Neither do those who carry the Mexican flag in demonstrations demanding rights and respect.
Another controversy arose when a new Spanish language version of our National Anthem was released recently with the lyrics changed to fighting words. Our anthem has been translated into many languages over the years, including Spanish.
There's really nothing wrong with that as long as they are faithful translations. Some even appear on the State Department's Web site, which must be embarrassing to President Bush and Gov. Richardson, who have called for our anthem to be sung only in English..
MON, 5-22-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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