Just Be Honest

May 20, 2006
Getting tough isnt a complete solution to illegal immigration.

If you watch cable news you’ll get the sense there is breaking news every 10 minutes or so, but that’s deceiving. One of the wonders of our times is the speed at which information spreads. Everything is news the first time it’s announced, even if it’s not “newsworthy.”

So, most of those alerts are really a deception, though of a fairly obvious and benign sort, to get our attention. If any of us believes we have to sit and wait for important news, we’re deceiving ourselves.

On the other hand, some irregular or illegal activities are just so routine that no one sees anything unusual about them, but there is deception in this, too. Illegal immigration seems to have flared into “news” in the past year or so, but a more honest assessment reveals a situation that has been ongoing for decades, regularly, if you will.

Illegal immigration has become a widespread concern for two reasons, I believe: First, just as news spreads further, faster than in past decades, information sinks deeper, too. Today’s average citizens are better informed about important and complex information than in the past. Second, we recognize a problem that may or may not be worse than it ever was, but it remains wrong. There are legal alternatives.

We have deceived ourselves for too long, so let’s be honest. Illegal immigration is a serious problem. It drives up the cost of public education, health-care services, safety forces, and insurance for ordinary citizens. Census figures show that without illegal immigrants in Arizona, California, and Texas, each of those states would have at least one fewer Congressional district. Which means that some states have lost Congressional representation as a result of illegal activity. Worst of all, by not addressing illegality we warp our general respect for all laws and standards.

The first step toward resolving the illegal immigration problem should be reaffirming the established immigration laws — and that’s going to demand honesty on all sides. Because no problem continues on for so long without lots of deception, let’s be clear about whom is responsible, and who needs to come clean.

Illegal immigrants, of course, are the first offenders here. It’s hard to be hard-hearted about this, but it’s true that someone who wants to be a good citizen shouldn’t start that effort by breaking the law. Those who want to be citizens should make their intention clear, and then be given a reasonable time and opportunity to sort out their illegality.

Federal and state government officials must acknowledge their role in allowing illegal activity to go unchecked for so long, and to propagate so many other problems. And, in that acknowledgement, they must give citizens a reasonable expectation that in the future borders will be secured and the threats to public safety will be addressed.

Employers — very likely including some in the metalcasting industry — must acknowledge their role in the problem, too. Most of these companies are accessories after the fact, but they remain responsible. And, manufacturers that expect fair treatment from the government in areas like trade-law enforcement, environmental standards, and tax policies, for example, cannot at the same time expect to avoid the honoring immigration and labor laws. Anyone employing illegal aliens is taking an unfair advantage of their competition, their customers, their employees, and their fellow citizens.

Finally, all citizens need to do more than express outrage or indifference. Because we are more aware and better informed than we were in past decades, we must raise our expectations of our governments, of each other, and of ourselves to ensure that we aren’t deceived any longer.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)