The debate over what to do about illegal immigration is heating up and while the discussion has been continuous since the founding of our republic there is an interesting new chapter being written today. The twist in today’s debate is that the conversation seems to be taking place primarily within the Republican Party! The Democrats are content to take a back seat in this discourse, likely to avoid any uncomfortable conversation that could imperil their poll numbers. In what seems a brave turn Republican politicians are staking out positions that will definitely be unpopular to some and invariably will cost votes.
With the defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2012 election in what should have been a handily won contest, the Republican Party realized what Geographers and Ethnographers already knew… demographic shifts are nigh impossible to slow once they have started. Like the ocean tide demographic shifts only gain strength over time and are generally irreversible (find that hard to believe? Ask Japan about the wisdom of legalizing abortion after WW II.) In Europe, politicians are flailing against the air in their battle to slow the death of European ethnicities as third world ethnic minorities continue to grow in both strength and numbers at their expense. The same is happening in the United States of America but unlike Europe we are a land of ethnic diversity at our heart. The French fear the loss of their “Frenchness”, the same with the Anglo and the German. In the USA we can embrace the continued growth/expansion of ethnic minorities as long as we are able to expand our political message across the new frontiers.
There are those who are calling for comprehensive immigration reform; from Jeb Bush to Marco Rubio to Rand Paul. All three men have offered plans that would have tremendous impact on current legal and illegal immigrants in the USA as well as fundamentally changing the future of immigration in America. This view does seem to be the “popular” view in our nation today, as politicians on both the left and right have been giving lip service to reform for years, though until very recently these were simple platitudes as no one had the political courage to outline a plan for these reforms.
There are those who are lining up as the “anti-reform” members of the party as well. They’ve yet to find a mainstream candidate who will voice their concerns and support their initiatives, but I think the very fact that they exist outlines a serious concern for the entire party.
Whether or not you support comprehensive reform the question is this; “What next?” There are millions of illegal immigrants in the USA today, and once the economy begins to improve again more will come. All over the world people are applying for legal migrant status everyday and it is our legacy to welcome them with open arms, hearts, and opportunity. The reason our politicians have been punting on this subject since the 1700s is because there are no easy answers. In my opinion, the best response to the immigration conundrum we face is to embrace the values and the ethics we have espoused since before nationhood. We are a land of opportunity, we are a gracious and caring people, we offer a place of respite for the weary, downtrodden, and oppressed… all we ask is that in return you work hard and embrace our culture. Let’s continue to be a port in the storm to immigrants but let us continue to ask them to work hard and acculturate to our values.