Saturday, June 25, 2005

Immigration Revision: On National Security

for Andy

In light of a recent confidential report of confirmed Al Qaida elements operating across the border in Mexico, I must revise a previous opinion I wrote regarding the Immigration issue.

I do not object to checkpoints or even volunteer patrols to secure our border. The fact is that we are at war and the war has come to our lands. Just as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt protected our country from Japanese spies and German saboteurs, we must protect ourselves against those that would do us harm. From experience, I can tell you that albeit with distinct nuances it can be very difficult to differentiate an Arab from a Mexican American.

The President walks a very fine tightrope balancing national security and in the interests of the Latin community whose contributions to our society are still being felt and are quite substantial. Al Qaida operators killed Americans of Latin descent like myself in the World Trade Centers, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must assure ourselves that we have taken every precaution against this threat. That interest above all else unfortunately and no matter how distasteful is our first and most sacred duty.

As my friend has wisely counseled me, this effort will require the cooperation of other Latin American governments. We cannot afford to alienate these governments by abusing their citizens who enter this country legally or illegally. I applaud volunteer efforts to ensure the lives and well being of émigrés from Latin America coming to seek a better life. The deaths of those whether in the desert or those discovered three weeks after their death by suffocation in train cargo cars or in the backs of abandoned Ryder trucks will only damage and alienate our interest in the Monrovian hemisphere.

I would also like to remind everyone that El Salvador is an ally and has combat troops on the ground in Iraq.

We have the right and should exercise the right to arrest and deport those who break the law. It would behoove us to use common sense for long time residents who have lived in this country illegally but have otherwise lived law abiding lives, paid taxes and made contributions to our polity. I endorse the President’s guest worker plan as a first step at tackling the desperation of the plight of Latin America. Money orders sent from guest workers represent the largest influx of foreign currency to Latin America.

Perhaps in addition to the President’s generous proposals for increased immigration, we should take steps to go after employers who hire illegal immigrants knowingly for the purpose of keeping them in some kind of wage slavery. The District Attorney under then John Ashcroft and now Alberto Gonzalez has broken up sex trade route operated by Russian and Chinese syndicates. Such efforts would reassure Latinos that they aren’t the subject of sleight of hand anti-catholic nativism.

With respect to the Honorable Tom Tancredo’s of the world, though I don’t agree with what he saying, I respect the man for having the courage to say what’s on his mind. You look at a guy like Rick Santorum or the late Paul Wellstone, and you say to yourself, “I may not agree, but at least I know where he stands on the issue.”

We would be wise to publicize as much as possible arrests of Al Qaida agents crossing our border, camps in Mexico and Latin America and cooperation between our government and other governments within the western hemisphere. Perhaps this cooperation tied with trade specifically developing oil wells within the Gulf of Mexico could lead to greater cooperation in the drug trade and increased economic prosperity within NAFTA and CAFTA.

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