Monday, August 2, 2010

HOPE FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM

81% of Americans support sanity and conscience as a way forward on immigration

In the midst of profound tensions and increasing media attention (“Going Rogue,” Aug 1) regarding illegal immigration, an important response of citizens to a CNN/Public Opinion Research Corporation poll has gone all but unnoticed.

In spite of widespread frustrations, the poll finds that 81% of Americans are in favor of a policy that would “allow illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. for a number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes.”

81% of us (that’s more than 8 in 10 of us, folks) would rather see illegal immigrants who are on the job, raising families, obeying our laws, trying to pay their way and contributing to the common good become citizens than be deported.  We’d rather have whatever back taxes are owed by illegal immigrants be paid up than see our tax money wasted on further unrealistic and costly jailings and deportations.

Regarding taxes, it is a myth that illegal immigrants pay no taxes.  In reality, most pay FICA and numerous taxes in a variety of ways (where American employers are honest). In reality, the U.S. government is making money on illegal immigrants, as are American businesses who exploit this cheap labor pool.  In reality, studies indicate that most illegal immigrants are willing to pay whatever back taxes are owed—and fines— if they have a chance to come forward without being separated from their families and their lives completely disrupted.

This CNN/POR poll finding is significant.  It indicates that more of us desire responsible leadership rather than political gamesmanship.  More of us want sanity and conscience to prevail over hysteria and meanness.  More of us will vote for legislators who act now for realistic national comprehensive immigration reform than those who delay, obfuscate and play divide-and-conquer games.

If those who came into our country without our permission or overstayed their work visas are willing to obey our laws, pay our taxes and learn our language, most of us are saying: “Welcome to America.”

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