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1:26 PM Mon, Feb. 18th

Congress needs to put its foot down on illegal immigration

The news lately has been full of stories about Congress' proposed immigration bill. Some call it amnesty for illegal immigrants, some call it a savior for agricultural, construction and other labor-related jobs.

There's no doubt that the issue is a contentious one, especially in this state. Personally, I never really seriously considered the issue until I moved to Arizona. It was always one of those topics that I discussed in my political science classes in college.

I've tried to look at the issue from all sides.

I can understand that some businesses, especially fruit and vegetable farms, depend on immigrants in order to survive.

Now there are some people who say that immigrants, legal or illegal, are taking jobs that could go to Americans in these sectors. But be realistic. I don't know too many Americans who would want to do these jobs. Many Americans feel they are above these kinds of jobs.

This is nothing new. In fact, history is simply repeating itself. There are many immigrant groups, like the Irish or Germans, that when they first came to the United States, took menial labor jobs and were despised for it. Those groups eventually moved up the job food chain and were assimilated into the American culture.

My grandfather was one of many Germans who immigrated to the States. He worked for many years in a brickyard stoking the fires for the kilns and making bricks for buildings.

I'm sure when he first arrived that people made fun of him because of his German accent, and they might have accused him of taking a job from an "American" or not being willing to learn English. He did learn English. He never lost the German accent and he preferred to speak to my grandmother in German.

So today's issue of immigrants coming to the U.S. and taking menial jobs is nothing new. It's probably been an issue since nations and countries were first developed.

I can understand immigrants wanting to come to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves and their families.

The big difference I see between today's immigrants and past immigrants is the number of illegal immigrants coming into this country. I'm sure there were some illegal immigrants that came into the U.S. in the past, but this is different.

These people are breaking the law. Not only have they entered the country illegally, but most probably have falsified work documents.

And now Congress is saying, "Oh well, they're already here. We don't know who they are or where they are. There's nothing we can do about it. So let's give them what they want. We'll fine them a few thousand dollars and send them back a year or two after we catch them so we look like were doing something about it."

Well, I say this bill isn't fair.

It's not fair to the average American who abides by the laws of this land. I don't get a pass when I break a law. I get a fine, or depending on the crime, I may end up in jail.

It's not fair to immigrants who have worked hard and spent a lot of money to enter and work in this country legally.

I realize that law enforcement officers can't pinpoint and deport every single illegal immigrant in the U.S. But telling these people that since you're here you might as well stay isn't a solution.

Of course using more money to hire more border guards, vehicles, cameras and concrete to build walls isn't necessarily a solution either.

What needs to change is the governments and economies of countries these people come from. Illegal immigrants are coming to the U.S. and European countries because they can't find jobs that will support their families in their own countries. Perhaps a better solution to the immigration problem is to increase aid to foreign countries in order to make it more desirable for these people to stay home.

Illegal immigration will always be a problem for the U.S. There are better ways of dealing with it than Congress' current immigration bill.