Some thoughts on immigration reform

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By John Barnhart

    The Wall Street Journal published an interview with Russell Moore in its Aug. 17-18 weekend  edition that got me thinking about immigration reform. Moore is the incoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The article quotes Moore as saying that “we’re not going to deport 11 million people without a big government police state.”
    From time to time I will read something that will get me to stop, in the middle the article, and ponder what I just read. This was one of those cases and I quickly came to the conclusion that Moore is right.
    This was not an epiphany. There have always been some aspects of the drive to stem the flow of illegal immigrants that have made me uncomfortable. E-Verify is one of them. This is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States, the U. S. Department of Homeland Paranoia Web site states.
    E-Verify, itself, seems like a fine idea, as long as it’s voluntary. It lets an employer who chooses to use it as a quick way to check to see if a prospective employee can legally work in the United States. However, as I’m not a person who tends to see the government as a best buddy who has our best interest at heart, requiring employers to use E-Verify sets off my Big Brother detector. I fully support efforts to find and punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, but I think there are limits to how far we can go to make sure nobody accidentally hires an illegal without endangering our liberties. We already have to show we can legally work in the U. S. and I wonder if turning this system into a requirement, rather than a convenience, for employers is necessary?
    Getting back to the question of deporting the estimated 11 million illegal aliens living in the U. S., I cringe when I think of the sort of massive, intrusive police apparatus it would take to locate and round up all these illegals and what other uses could be made of such an apparatus. Who else could find themselves the subject of a similar roundup? Any serious attempt to locate and deport all these people is certainly a solution that is far worse than the problem.
    I’m also uncomfortable with the idea of deporting illegal aliens who were brought here as children. Their parents certainly broke U. S. law by entering the country illegally, but is it just to punish somebody for a crime his parents committed? There is also the issue of deporting illegal aliens who have had children after they came here. Do we want to break up families, deporting mom and dad and leaving their children here? Or, do we want to deport a young teenager, born in the USA, because his parents are here illegally?
    I don’t think there are any easy answers to these problems, but we need to come up with an immigration reform law that staunches the flow of illegal immigration while making a well-reasoned effort to address these issues without threatening the liberties of those of us who were born here. I have every confidence that Congress will miserably fail to do this, assuming that any of them are even interested in making a good faith effort. It’s a partisan political issue for “Democrats” while Republican activists will punish any party leader (think Marco Rubio) who tries to do anything about immigration reform.
    It’s too bad, because Republicans are forfeiting a large demographic that would probably vote Republican. Most of them are social conservatives and the social conservatives in the Republican base should be glad they are here. Republicans should reach out to them with a welcoming embrace and meet their interest in an immigration reform.
    We really shouldn’t be afraid of immigration We saw a great flow of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. They did not destroy America. They assimilated, and so will our current large class of immigrants.