Immigrants have a soft spot in American politics. Our country was founded on people who were escaping religious persecution and wanted to start a new life for them and their families. Growing up in New York City I went to the Tenement Museum and saw the conditions people were willing to live in so they could achieve their dreams. You cannot teach American history without learning about these people and their courageous stories.
It was announced today that there are plans being made to make obtaining a legal status in the United States easier. Actual legislation is being put off though because health care reform is taking up so much time. This is a good first step in achieving real reform, and it is expected that a lot of illegal immigrants will be taking advantage of the new rules when they come into effect. I have worked in a few congressional offices and helping people get visas, green cards, etc., is always one of the top issues that is being dealt with. The current system we have now just is not efficient. Those who come to the country illegally are sending billions of dollars back to their home countries, and running up costs at hospitals by going to the emergency room.
But lest we forget, they are helping to keep wages low. Since they are doing the jobs most Americans do not want to do such as food manufacturing, farming, and construction. Some economists predicted a 1% decrease in GDP if there were no people to do these jobs.
By cutting the red tape for immigrants, it will be easier to keep track of how many there are in the country and where they are. And when you consider the current deficit, people coming into the country can be taxed on all levels of government so services won't have to be cut.
There's a tricky balance when it comes to immigration reform. No one wants to say people are not allowed to come to America, that's a total contradiction to what this country was founded on. But you also want to keep Americans safe. The best way to do that though would be to make it so people coming into this country are easier to track. It's how we caught Najibullah Zazi.
So reform the system, not the principles. We're lucky to be living in a place where people want to come to start a new life, and are a symbol and a place to do just that. History teaches us important lessons when it comes to immigration. So when President Obama does introduce legislation for immigration reform, I hope he focuses on the system itself and not make it crisis. Unfortunately people in the media try to make everything into a crisis, but after health care I think we can all use a break from one.