A Nation of Laws and Immigrants
A Nation of Laws and Immigrants
Written By Fran Eaton   |   07.01.10

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“We’re a nation of laws, and a nation of immigrants…” ~ Barack Obama

Those words define clearly the fine line Congress will need to consider in any attempt to correct our nation’s crisis concerning immigration. America is facing unprecedented confusion as to what should be done to correct our deteriorating situation. Our nation of laws and immigrants has become frustrated with unenforced law and inefficient bureaucracies.

We’re in this situation because no lawmakers since the Reagan days have had the will or the fortitude to tackle the emotionally-charged and politically-potent topic of immigration.

Certainly we’re a nation of immigrants — 99 percent of our family lines originated ten or twelve generations ago outside the United States. But we’re also a nation of laws. In this case, important laws are ignored.

The current crisis of illegal immigration is bearing down on us now as the recession has brought to the forefront millions of dollars nearly-bankrupt state governments are forced each year to dole out in public education, health care and public aid for non-Americans living within our borders.

That’s serious enough, but at the same time, the border state of Arizona passed a strongly-worded provision immigration groups insist is unconstitutional and discriminatory. Indeed, a law that simply duplicates the federal immigration law scheduled to go into effect at the end of July has set the nation into controversy and prodded the federal government into action to reform our immigration policy.

Where should social conservatives be on this issue? We are prolife and believe all humans are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity. But because we know civility is based upon God’s law and as an extension, human laws and statutes, we must strike a balance that makes sense and protects our citizens while welcoming newcomers.

Before any reform discussion commences, our borders should be secured. In an age when our homeland’s security is threatened by terrorists, stealth spies, drug cartels, kidnappers and criminals that would destroy us, we should reinforce the walls protecting our nation’s borders.

President Obama said in a recent bi-partisan strategy meeting at the White House that our borders should be secured, but refuses to provide border states like Arizona with the personnel and funding to secure them. Arizona’s Governor Jan Brenner (R) said last week that talks with members of the Obama Administration concerning what they planned to contribute to Arizona’s increasingly-serious immigration problem were “disappointing.” Brenner said the feds will provide minimal assistance while the state is left to battle an onslaught of illegals coming across the Mexican border.

Illinois Congressman Luiz Gutierrez (D-Chicago) is leading the Obama Administration’s congressional reform effort. The points Gutierrez enumerated before a 2009 immigration rally in Washington DC provide insight into what the Obama Administration may define as comprehensive reform.

Gutierrez appealed to American compassion, saying, “We will not rest until the rage stops, and our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers are not torn apart by the government of the United States of America.”

“When you deport a mother, you deport her American citizen children. When you deport parents, you deport entire families,” Gutierrez said. “We won’t stop, we cannot wait… We have families to save… We have mothers and children to keep together. We will not rest until that is accomplished.”

Gutierrez said the solution to America’s immigration woes starts with “a pathway to legalization.” He promised background checks on those seeking citizenship. He said they will take English classes and pay taxes and in exchange, they should receive documentation.

Those of us born in America take for granted what a privilege it is to be an American citizen. America is a nation of immigrants. We hold our door open to all. But America is also a nation of laws. We reward law-abiders and punish law-breakers. We do not reward law-breakers and punish law-abiders.

We should secure the borders, revamp and streamline the nation’s immigration laws and enforce the law. In the meantime, we must decide what to do with those who’ve broken the law.

Our broken and ignored system of law has created an atmosphere for the nation to be divided and confrontational on the immigration issue. The solutions to this complicated situation we find ourselves in will not be simple.

But throughout the process, our utmost goal — as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws — must be to return to being a nation of immigrants that respect and abide by the law. Any other way, and America will become a diminished nation of chaos.

Fran Eaton
Fran Eaton is a freelance writer living in DuPage County. She and her late husband Joe homeschooled their three children for 15 years, and she is now the proud grandmother...
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