Study the politics of the immigration issue

The large-scale turnout of demonstrators throughout the country - including at least hundreds in Reno - is indicative of the times in which we live.

Illegal immigration has been permitted for so long that many who broke the law to come across the border have found comfort in the United States, despite their illegal status. But being large in number is not the same as being right.

Recent proposed legislation - both a House bill that would further criminalize illegal immigration and a Senate version creating an amnesty process for illegals currently living here - does not address the issues that make illegal immigration a hot-button topic. Unfortunately, it is unlikely the politicians trying to appease all sides will embark on the difficult process of determining what are the real costs and benefits of immigration, and create legislation accordingly.

The arguments for amnesty and open borders are predicated on the assumption that illegals, most of whom come from Mexico, are doing the work that Americans won't do. Or that the net economic gain of having illegals in the work force exceeds the net loss. But there is a flip-side to the coin that deserves investigation.

There are some obvious costs to illegal immigration, including social services, law enforcement and incarceration.

The protesters these past couple of weeks have clearly demonstrated that illegal immigrants are a part of the fabric of our American community and a strong presence here. But they have not demonstrated that illegal immigration is good for the United States. That debate has to happen in a public forum, and in the halls of Congress. Only through a legitimate review of immigration and its effects will we learn what is the right course for future legislation. Until we do that, it is premature to craft a comprehensive border policy, especially if it is based purely on politics.


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