The 14th Amendment

If you’ve been reading the news at all lately you’ll have noticed the 14th Amendment is up for debate. It’s the one that says if you’re born here then you’re automatically a citizen. And it’s producing outcry from all sides for different reasons: it’s no small matter to alter the Constitution, which has stood as the pillars of our society for 234 years. Most of it is political, some of it is Americans who think immigrants are taking their jobs (except none of us wants to wash dishes for 25 years, etc), and others think the public assistance programs are being bled dry by immigrants who don’t even pay taxes (none of us have 8 kids and work for minimum wage…). The article I read estimated over 10 million illegals here; we all know that “securing our borders” and all the woo-ha in Arizona lately is part of it too. The example given for even considering changing the Constitution was ‘a woman from Brazil coming here, having a baby, and flying home’. That was political fencing – we all know the largest numbers of immigrants aren’t from Brazil. Politicians were considering the very large number of Hispanic voters and their future careers. I’m sure it’s some, if not all of that, and way more complicated than any of it. Since everyone has an opinion on it, I might as well throw my two cents in. I have a slightly different perspective than most, seeing as I married a Mexican immigrant (he’s legal by the way) and I run into more illegals than other people I know.

Those guys from Cuba who made a pontoon boat out of an old pickup truck and 50-gal barrels – freaking amazing. That’s the kind of ingenuity and drive we need in this country. They want to be here.

I know two guys from El Salvador, David and William, who spent 28 days walking and hobo-ing on trains to get here. They lived entirely on canned corn the entire trip and used cardboard to keep warm. That’s in the neighborhood of 2236 miles.

Have you ever wanted something so badly? Would you walk 2236 miles for it?

I don’t think anyone aspires to be an illegal immigrant with the threat of deportation hanging over them. And remember, all our ancestors – unless yours happen to be full-blooded Native American – were immigrants who came here looking for a better life. That’s all everyone is doing. Unfortunately the systems in place are bursting at the seams. America has billed itself as the most prosperous nation in the world – has anyone read the plaque on the Statue of Liberty lately? ("Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free..."). We have no right to be surprised everyone wants to come here.

I’m not defending illegally crossing into the US; I understand and believe we are having a population explosion that as a nation we can’t afford. I’ve gotten plenty of email blasts about all the benefits of coming here vs say crossing to China (where you’ll be shot by the way), how we’re all paying for millions who aren’t contributing to the good of us all (taxes), so on and so forth. But does anyone have a solution? We’ve all got plenty to complain about, self righteous folks on both sides, but no one has a realistic solution. Do we close the borders altogether? Easier said than done, but possible. Do we start making citizens out of permanent residents who’ve been here 10 or 20 years? They already pay taxes just like citizens, so might as well. Do we start asking everyone who looks remotely foreign about their immigration status? They’ll be mass uproar everywhere, not just Arizona. But really, what do we do?

The argument I hear the most is that the government provides all these services: healthcare, education, food stamps, housing, and so on to illegal immigrants. The catch is that the children of those illegals are citizens with every right to those services because they were born here. Hence the attempt to change the 14th Amendment.
All I know is the illegal immigrants I’ve met are some of the most humble, hardest working, and openly friendly people, who will share what little they have with a smile. They’re doing anything in their power to work, raise themselves or their families, and stay here. Those are the people who could better our country if the circumstances were right.

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