Why Immigration Reform Isn’t Just About Our Southern Border

immigration_reform_mgnIn politics, it is easy to get caught up in the moment, and forget about the bigger picture. Hot button issues draw us in, and move us to speak up or act, but the smaller points often get ignored. We’ve been going around in circles for years over what to do about immigration, and the vast majority of the time, that talk is focused on either our porous borders, or terrorism. I am not suggesting that those are not important issues, but they definitely are not the only issues when it comes to immigration.

Most of my family came to this country in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, so I’m only a second-third generation American. One of my aunts was actually born in Germany, and didn’t become a citizen until sometime in my early childhood. Her oldest child held dual-citizenship in the U.S. and Germany for many years, because he was born over there. While I’m not old enough to remember what my aunt went through to get citizenship here, I do know it wasn’t easy. In the intervening years, it hasn’t gotten easier, either.

The hot button issue is over what we should do with all the people that have managed to get into this country illegally. The not-so-hot issue is that the legal procedure to even enter the U.S. is rife with red tape that often ends up being eased or cut by politicians for the lucky few that are “connected.” Behind the curtain of talk about “Dreamers”, and amnesty for children of illegal aliens there is another dark side of our broken immigration system. It is a place where politicians like Senator Harry Reid take advantage of their ability to expedite visa applications for financial gain – either personal, or for their home states. By itself, that is a disgusting revelation, but it is even doubly unbearable when placed in perspective with the daily struggles some American citizens face.

Imagine for a moment being newly married across continents, one spouse residing in the U.S. and the other in Europe. Obviously, this would be difficult to deal with in the best of circumstances, since newlyweds typically want to spend as much time as possible together. Now imagine that the spouse residing in the U.S. ends up severely ill, and must be hospitalized. While talking with the doctors about important health issues, that person cannot speak with the spouse that is half a world away, because the hospital staff refuses to allow a phone call. In spite of the fact that the sick spouse does have some family around, it is still an unbearable situation, because the one person that is really needed to comfort that person is not present – can’t be, because the U.S. government forbids it. The couple decided to do the “right” thing, and is in the middle the legal immigration process. During that process, the individual applying for a resident visa may not travel to the U.S.

558107_10101509403355610_1236826947_nUnfortunately, that is precisely what is happening to Katrina Jorgensen, a conservative political activist living in the D.C. area. Her story has been spreading through the ranks of conservatives on social media, and on blogs.  Kai Jørgensen, her husband in Norway, is the subject of a Twitter hashtag – #VisaForKai – and people are being encouraged to contact their Representatives and Senators in Washington, asking them to act on behalf of this couple. It’s only one couple, but they are emblematic of a serious problem with our immigration system that has been all but completely ignored for years.

While the debates rage over what to do with the thousands of illegal immigrants, nothing is said about the system that they avoided in the first place. At best, it’s an aside in a fiery speech, simply pointing out that these people crossed the border illegally because it’s too hard to enter the country legally. The unfortunate fact is that phrase gets ignored, so everything else that is mentioned about our immigration problem should be rendered essentially meaningless. Debating about what to do with illegal immigrants already residing in the U.S. without addressing the problem that our system of legal immigration is broken is as useful as closing the barn door after the horses have bolted. We do not have closed borders, so there will always be more illegal immigrants coming into this country. Since it’s unlikely that will change, the only real way to reduce their numbers is to fix the system that manages legal immigration.

Back to the issue of favoritism, the fact that Senator Reid’s staff was able to expedite visas for investors proves the point that the only reason why we have a problem with legal immigration in the first place is because of excessive bureaucracy. We are far beyond the point where it could take weeks or months for U.S. officials to verify the background information on potential immigrants. Even though not all nations have completely digital criminal records, there are other means of getting this information quickly. Whether it is transferred via email, telephone, or fax, verifying the answers applicants give about their past is no longer something that requires a paper file transfer. So, what is the problem?

It could be argued that the real problem is us – the citizens of the U.S. We have failed, because we have allowed the politicians to frame this debate, without questioning their motives or agenda. Conservatives have regularly joked that illegal immigrants are simply undocumented Democrats, so that has left everyone frothing at the mouth over the prospect of amnesty. And that is precisely what the politicians on the Hill want. Consider how government works, just for a moment. We have elected officials that get assistance from people to get into office. One way or another, they repay people for that help, whether it’s through votes on the floor, or through jobs – government jobs. The fact that no one has been fired for screwing up ObamaCare illustrates the fact that once one has a job in government, it’s fairly difficult to get rid of them. Unlike the private sector, failing to do one’s job is not necessarily cause for dismissal in government. On the contrary, we’ve often seen people fail miserably, then get promoted. If we’re worrying about the political issues on immigration, we aren’t focusing on the department that is supposed to be managing legal immigration. We aren’t making politicians hold anyone accountable for the mess that it has become.

The IRS has been called in for misdeeds because of discriminatory procedures dealing with conservative organizations. Congress has not totally dropped that issue, because the same agency will be in charge of enforcing ObamaCare. Perhaps it is time for voters to point out that the politicians need to start questioning the activities of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in light of what Reid’s staff has been able to do for foreign investors in Las Vegas, and because of cases like Katrina and Kai Jørgensen. We need to quit focusing on people that have come to this country illegally, stop the debate over wasting tax dollars on them, and focus on fixing the system that they avoided. Democrats should be told by Republicans that there won’t be discussion about what benefits illegal immigrants should get until we fix INS. If we can’t even manage to efficiently process paperwork for immigrants that want to contribute to our economy by being gainfully employed taxpayers in this country, we have no business even discussing what to do with the ones that get here illegally. The illegal immigrants are the ones that deserve to sit in limbo – not the people that are trying to enter this country legally, period.

Liz Harrison

Liz Harrison can be found at GoldwaterGal.com, Conservative Daily News, United Liberty, Misfit Politics, and Examiner.com. Liz broadcasts weekly on FTR Radio (with another Goldwater Gal contributor, Taylor Millard (@EyeDesertBlog). She also hosts Jabberwonky and produces a few shows on CDN Radio, where she is the director of programming. Ensuring the next generation of politically active conservatives, Liz and her husband James are raising a politically precocious 12-year-old son, who is "The Pint-Sized Pundit" on his mom's talk shows.

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