Going back: Reunions forum
I’m writing in response to a 2008 Reunions forum, “Immigration: To Legalize or Criminalize?” The question restated: “There are 12 million people living and working illegally in the United States. What do we do with them?”
Our ability to work out a practical solution with benefits to all appears to be hamstrung by prejudice and misconceptions. Many people believe that illegal aliens don’t pay taxes or for the education of their children. Illegal aliens pay rent that property owners use to pay the real estate taxes that pay for schools. A disproportionate percentage of their income is spent on sales taxes. The majority of their employers deduct and pay their Social Security taxes based on the false
Social Security numbers provided. The federal government gets the money that is not collectible by the illegal alien’s family.
When there is general agreement that the illegal system functions better than the legal system, new checks and balances come into play. We suddenly cater to a system of selective legal enforcement known as the squealer system. Employers become more vulnerable to the jealousies of their employees and competitors. Everyone is in danger of becoming criminalized, not just the foreigners.
The question is, “What kind of society do we want to live in?” A society where hardworking, productive people are turned into criminals? Where the federal government collects, while the local and state governments pay the bills for the legally uninsurable? Where only the very rich can afford to be legal? Where we Americans cannot find and hire people legally? A society that caters to prejudice more than reality, practicality, and our own ideals? This is not the democratic American ideal I grew up with.
If the government charged $500 per person for legalization, it would be an income to the government of $6 billion, which could be used for administrative costs and social services, as opposed to having other resources tied up in “maintaining databases,” criminal prosecutions, detentions, prisons, etc. Six billion dollars circulating in the national economy translates into about $48 billion in economic activity.
On the human side we would convert 12 million fearful, struggling, often-abused human beings into grateful, patriotic, law-abiding citizens with a faith in the society and system in which we also believe.
Christine E. Brady '79
Chula Vista, Calif.
CURRENT ISSUE: July 16, 2008
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