When it comes to immigration reform, my friend and fellow columnist Ty Cobb Sr. got it right last month when he wrote that U.S. immigration policy should be designed to attract the best and the brightest from other countries, rather than poor, uneducated and unskilled immigrants.
In a fact-filled critique of our current immigration system, Cobb wrote that U.S. immigration policy should "encourage the influx of highly talented and skilled foreigners who can enrich our social fabric and stimulate our economic infrastructure." In other words, it's time to scrap a policy that welcomes the world's "huddled masses" and "wretched refuse." I hate to put it in such stand terms but the classic Emma Lazarus poem is no longer relevant in 21st century America.
When President Obama made a pitch for "comprehensive immigration reform" (and Hispanic votes) at El Paso, Texas, in April, he talked about attracting "the best and the brightest" to America and mentioned foreign-born entrepreneurs who have contributed to our economic and social well-being. So far so good, but the reality of our current immigration policy - spurred in part by ex-President Reagan's misguided 1986 blanket amnesty - is that the vast majority of more than 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. (nearly 200,000 of them in Nevada) are unskilled and undereducated menial laborers who neither enrich our social fabric nor do they stimulate our economic infrastructure.
I have worked with hundreds of illegal immigrants as an English/Spanish court interpreter over the years and I can tell you that too many of them turn to crime by becoming gang members and/or drug traffickers. That's because illegal immigration is increasingly controlled by violent Mexican drug cartels.
So in April we were treated to the spectacle of President Obama standing on the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time during his presidency and extolling the virtues of immigration without acknowledging that the border is rapidly becoming a dangerous national security issue. It's ironic that he can keep nearly 40,000 American troops in Korea or Japan, but refuses to assign a few thousand soldiers to the border to combat cartel violence and drug smuggling. Meanwhile, his attorney general sues the state of Arizona for attempting to control its border with Mexico.
Obama repeated the tiresome litany of the most vocal illegal immigration advocates by asserting that "undocumented workers" are hard-working, law-abiding people who should be granted "a pathway to citizenship" (back door amnesty). No way. In fact, most of them just want to work and send money back home; they have no intention of learning English or becoming Americans. Their allegiance is to their home country.
Nevertheless, they send their children to our public schools and enjoy free medical care by going to hospital emergency rooms with routine complaints. This isn't fair to the American taxpayers who pay their bills. So like fellow columnists Ty Cobb, I urge President Obama to advocate policies that encourage highly skilled, entrepreneurial foreigners to emigrate to the U.S.
• Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, writes frequently about immigration issues.