Thoughts on Illegal Immigrants

Sometimes, a problem is so big, you just have to laugh about it.

I have always appreciated Ray Stevens’ humorous way of stating his opinion and getting to the heart of a situation.     And while I have compassion for the plights of the illegal immigrants, I have to agree that the complaints of many American citizens, humorously portrayed in this video, are valid, and a solution to this problem is long overdue.

This problem is only going to continue to get worse unless something is done very soon.   The problem has now become so complex, the solution to “deport them all”  is too simplistic.    For example, the illegal immigrants now make up such a large percentage of “cheap labor” in America–they are the ones who do the jobs that better educated American citizens don’t want, such as harvesting produce out in the hot Summer sun, or cleaning the dirty public restrooms.   To suddenly reduce this workforce by deporting all illegal aliens would have a great impact on our economy.    Costs of goods and services will go up due to rise in labor costs (no American citizen would do the same job for the same low wages currently paid to illegal immigrants, and the employers will now have the payroll expenses that didn’t exist before when they were paying illegal workers under the table).   The solution would need to allow time for this country to adjust from the transition of this workforce being made up primarily of  illegal immigrants to being predominantly youths needing part-time jobs, or less educated U.S. citizens willing to do these menial tasks–the way it used to be before these jobs were gradually given to illegal immigrants over the decades.

Then there’s the issue of illegal aliens giving birth to children in the United States.  These children, according to the U.S. laws, are U.S. citizens by birthright.   We can’t deport the children along with their parents, nor will it be right to deport the parents and make them leave the children behind.   Yes, I know well that many illegal immigrants take advantage of this.   And so far, the government has avoided the issue, allowing the parents to continue to live in the U.S. illegally, paying no taxes, while taking advantage of the hard working American citizens.   Is it a wonder why there’s now so much resentment toward illegal immigrants?    This problem has to be addressed now!   The compassionate and fair solution would be to require the parents to become legal citizens of this country if they want to remain here with their children.   And while I’m all for cultural diversity, being of Chinese origin myself,  I believe it is completely reasonable that everyone who wants to live and work in the U.S. ought to learn to speak, read, and write its official language, which is English.

I’m no historian, nor am I an economist.     What I’ve written is just from my own life experience and observation.   I’m just a hard working U.S. citizen, who immigrated legally with my family from Thailand when I was a teenager.    I carried a “green card” for 6 years before I became an American citizen (minimum requirement was 5 years).     I had to learn English.   Back then, there were no bilingual classes in school, at least not  in Thai or Chinese (my native languages).   Today, just about everything is bilingual.  I remember when I was in California, there were voters information booklets in Spanish and Chinese.   Even the Driver’s Manual from the Department of Motor Vehicle had a Spanish version (not sure if there’s a Chinese one or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was one).

I understand that some people are too old to learn a new language.  My grandmother spoke only Chinese all her life, and my mother speaks broken English.   But my brothers and I were the ones translating for them.    I don’t believe it is right for the Federal government (or state government) to take the tax dollars from U.S. citizens to print things that are for citizens only anyway in any other language besides English.  Let the translation be done privately by their own family members, or  private organizations.    There is a saying, “Give the man a fish, feed him for a day; teach the man to fish, feed him for life.”    I think instead of printing literature in many languages and enabling the people to never learn English (and then they keep demanding everything in their native languages), we would do better to take the money and open up free classes to teach them English.    And I’ll bet, if everything in America is in English, and this truly is a foreign country to the Mexicans, there will be less of them coming over the borderline.

I’m thankful that America welcomes immigrants from other countries, so I could come  here.    I find great joy in the cultural diversities around me and love meeting people from different countries.    I just don’t think it is right that some people can sneak  into this country illegally through the back door, avoiding all responsibilities of citizenship, yet reaping all the benefits as if they have citizenship.

But, as I think of how to handle the problem, I am hesitant to act out of anger or resentment.   I think to do so, I would lose a part of my own humanity.   I believe I become less human the moment I cannot see myself in another person’s shoes and feel their pain.    I can see the issues and feel the pain from both sides of the fence.    I still don’t know what the right solution is to this problem.    But I hope that as the citizens of this nation brainstorm together (hopefully in peaceful discussions and not hateful debates), we will come up with a solution that not only addresses all the complexity of this problem, but also stay true to the compassionate spirit of the poem inscribed on the Statute of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”