(Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, an unedited version of this article appeared online. The article has been changed to closely reflect how it appears in print.)
By Brianna Lyman
Along with taxes, Planned Parenthood and health care, immigration was one of the most debated issues during the 2016 presidential campaign. This issue has caused people to gravitate towards either the left or the right, but rarely the middle.
Trump’s firm “Build a Wall” campaign solidified his win, as many Americans feel that the only way to stop this influx of undocumented immigrants is to build a physical barrier.
However, there are thousands of Americans who feel that rather than deport upwards of 11 million people, we should create a path to citizenship for them, and then fix our immigration system. I am not one of those people, nor am I the other type. Instead, I have created my own sort of solution to the controversial immigration issue.
In a perfect world, people would respect our laws, and no one would come here illegally and then expect to be granted the rights granted to an American citizen and be protected under American laws.
However, we live in the age of Liberal America, meaning that the politically correct thing to do is to claim that no person can be “illegal.” And so we are now faced with the great ordeal; do we grant citizenship to the millions here illegally? Perhaps we should deport them and mandate that they come back here legally, like the thousands of others who patiently wait?
Many use the argument that if we deport 11 million people, who will do the dirty work? Who would do jobs so physically demanding for such low wages? I ask the same thing to them.
If you grant citizenship to people, then are they not legally entitled to a minimum wage job as well? And if that is the case, then does that not mean that they are doing jobs that now any American would take, considering the employers would have no choice but to pay at least minimum wage?
However, the real issue is lodged between the law and logic. The resources needed to deport 11 million people will undoubtedly be costly.
We not only have to employ agents to find these 11 million people, but then process them, send them back and figure out what to do with their children who were born here.
Although I think the just thing to do is to deport them, I understand it is just not feasible. However, with that being said, there has to be some type of reparation that undocumented immigrants must pay for entering our country illegally. To just create an easier path to citizenry is a slap in the face to the thousands that apply and wait patiently until they are cleared.
I believe that in order to gain a new path to citizenship, immigrants should have to prove that they have been working in the United States since the day they arrived, that they have no other criminal charges (aside from coming in illegally) and that they are able to speak or understand English.
They should be required to use a permit for six months, as well as pass a state mandated drivers test. They should also not collect social security, and there should be a fine to pay for those who have been here longer than a year, since some undocumented immigrants might avoid paying taxes.
Some may think these are rather harsh conditions but it is the price to pay for breaking the law, and quite frankly, a cheap price. Also, undocumented immigrants are not the only ones who should be punished.
Business owners should also have to pay a fine per undocumented immigrant hired, as this encourages them to come here since they are jobs waiting for them.
By cancelling out the middleman (employers), undocumented immigrants have no good reason to come here illegally since they will not find work, forcing them to wait patiently until they are legally processed.
There is no easy answer to solve a problem as enormous as this one, and although I hope President Trump can ease the issue, he alone cannot fix it.
We need lawmakers and citizens to come together and realize that first and foremost we are a country of laws, and that if we want the United States to stand, we need to follow and abide by these laws.
Yes, we are a country of immigrants, and it is one of the things that makes us so great. So yes, we will welcome them with open arms, as long as it is done legally.
Brianna Lyman, FCRH ’20, is an international political economy major from Dobbs Ferry, New York