By Nicholas Riebel, Staff Writer||

The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. Even the Native Americans had to cross the Bering Strait and settle on this land. The American people did not just rise from the ground; we came from elsewhere. We came here for a variety of reasons, whether because we were persecuted, sought opportunity, or just wanted a better chance at a better life. Whatever the reason, we or our ancestors moved here, and became American citizens. This continues today with the “illegal” immigrants of Latin and Central America, Asia, and other places.

The president just gave a big speech on November 20th on why we need immigration reform, and what sort of immigration reform we need. However, I have one great disagreement with him, for he said: “I know some of the critics of this action… (that being his “providing relief for an estimated 4.1 million undocumented parents of U,S. citizens and about 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children”) call it amnesty. Well, it’s not… Amnesty is the immigration system we have today-— millions of people who live here without paying taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is… What I’m describing is accountability.”

While one must praise the president for his eloquence and rhetoric, one must disagree with him on the facts. He went out of his way in his speech to denounce illegal (or undocumented) immigrants as criminals who should be punished for their lawbreaking, but as human beings who need help. Or at the very least, it is too inconvenient to deport all of them. But these people, in large part, are not evildoers, as his predecessor might say. They merely come seeking a better life, not to mooch of our health care or education. Why would one risk the humiliation of deportation, the indignity of being detained in the immigrant detention centers? Why would one accept the possibility of death as they transport themselves to America, sometimes in very dangerous conditions? For the same reason why we or our ancestors came to America: for a chance at a better life. They escape poverty, persecution or war (often some combination, and many other serious issues their state cannot or will not deal with) to live with us. They will often be our friends and neighbors and help us build a better America.

Some will argue that there is a great difference between them and our immigrating ancestors: ours came here legally. And it should be noted that, especially among the conservatives, there are Americans who want us to deport all illegal immigrants, regardless of whether they are dangerous to America or not.

But our ancestors had a great advantage over most (illegal or undocumented) immigrants coming here today: they were encouraged to come. There was a great demand in America for labor and workers. And we wanted white men.

We still want laborers today, and preferably cheap ones. Illegal immigrants are often willing to work below minimum wage, saving corporations great deals of money. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people living here are essentially indentured servants, except that the indentured servants of old had a better chance of acquiring freedom.

I understand that our borders should be secured. But the truth is, it would be unwise and unjust to throw out all of the immigrants who did not come here legally. The drug cartels and criminals, especially the violent ones who are currently destabilizing Mexico (and causing much immigration here), should not be allowed into our nation. We should not overreact on this issue: we need amnesty, and we need to keep in mind that immigration is only a huge problem if we make it one.

Work cited: