“Immigration” is an issue that embodies many of the concerns and issues that are central to any discussion of human rights. It touches on many of the worries that people have about their lives. Nobody wants to experience discrimination, any form of degradation or torture, or have their movements restricted based upon nationality, religion or ethnicity. Everyone wants to be free to make a living.
There are two core questions in the current immigration issue that are not being addressed: 1) How does someone prove their citizenship in the United States? 2) What are the fundamental causes of illegal immigration and how do we prevent them?
Every country has the right and responsibility to protect its borders and to determine who has a legal right to inhabit the country and therefore legitimate claims on the resources of the nation and how those resources are to be distributed. In the United States, we have only one method of identifying citizenship. Only an American passport, or the newer passport card, can irrefutably identify someone as a citizen of the U.S. However, very few U.S. citizens have passports, and if they have them, no law exists that requires them to carry them on a daily basis. Many countries have national-identity-cards that details an individual’s citizenship status, but in the U.S., any talk of anything that approximates such a card, or something that might become a proxy for such purposes, instantly raises fears about government intrusion and control of personal information.
Without some national-identity-card, how does someone prove citizenship? Attempts to visually identify non-citizens, who may or may not be illegal immigrants, automatically requires a form of ‘racial profiling’, and is so arbitrary, that it leaves it to the enforcement officer to make judgments based upon their own perceptions and biases. This becomes a particular problem in the U.S. because the popular perception is that ‘illegal immigrants’ are Latinos crossing the Southern borders into the US. However, approximately 50-percent of illegal immigrants are people who have been legally admitted into the U.S. but have overstayed their visas. Therefore, most American citizen contact with illegal immigrants, are with people who are from countries not commonly associated with illegal entry, such as European and Asian countries. Unfortunately, there is no reliable entry/exit tracking-process for people who have visited the U.S.
Ultimately, undocumented immigrants exist in the U.S. because of the ease of acquiring employment from the many businesses that hire them as cheap labor. Those businesses are also reluctant to participate in any efforts to identify undocumented immigrants. It is likely that people would not seek to breach the U.S. borders if there was not a potential job awaiting them.
The appropriate questions for this dilemma are: 1) Is there a form of citizenship identification that would be acceptable to U.S. citizens? 2) How can the government enforce a process that punishes businesses for hiring undocumented immigrants?