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The illegal immigrant controversy in the state of Arizona involving a law which, in reality, only reaffirms the state's commitment to uphold laws already on its book, has at the same time drawn much ire and much admiration. Derided as an attempt to legalize discrimination and generate hatred, in reality, this law is an attempt by the duly elected officials and the citizens of an American state to demand of its federal government not selective enforcement of laws, to include immigration laws, but to take responsibility for honoring its constitutional obligation to ensure this country's safety from within and from external threats.

As commendable an action this is, moderation and consideration are desperately called for from all sides. It is often said that the truth lies between opposing extremes, and it is so in this case, as well. It seems that no one is capable or willing to look for a compromise, but the truth is that passions should be channeled into a more productive and beneficial direction.

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Undeniably, many thousands of immigrants find ways to slip across the border from Mexico to the United States. The reason makes sense. Consider, if you lived in an area overrun by drug cartels, assassinations occurring weekly, you would look for someplace safer to live. It happens every day in America, where people move from the cities to the safer suburbs. How can we look down on immigrants looking for a safer place for their children to grow? Admit it; to do so is hypocritical. America was founded in part as a place of refuge for the sick, weary, and afraid. America is a country where so many have been allowed to start anew. This is America's heritage.

If we resided in an American state where the economy was experiencing a downturn, we would look for other options, other areas to reside where the economy is booming, or at least performing better. We spend a lot of money going to school in hopes of a better income in an occupation that appeals to us. Just as we would not deny this for ourselves, how do we deny it to others? Immigrants see an opportunity in America to live so much better and provide so much for their children. If the roles were reversed, I promise I would do the same.

In come the immigrants! Ready, willing, and able to work any job, for any and every bit of hours possible! And they do a good job at it, too! So let's kick them out of this country... and resign ourselves to either working these same jobs ourselves, or close all the fast food restaurant, all the steakhouses! Let's learn to mow our lawns and trim the hedges ourselves! And build the houses ourselves, because construction isn't that bad an occupation, is it?

Now for a dose of common sense. We don't want to do those jobs ourselves; let's be honest. And the ones that do want to undertake these occupations are excited and willing! They gather in parking lots and on street corners not begging for money, but for work! So, we give them a chance. A comprehensive national resident worker program must be developed and implemented immediately, where these same immigrants that already reside here are officially welcomed into this country, the doors are opened to work and save and build for a real future. They are required to register for and maintain valid state or federal identification credentials. They are allowed to work for five years and pay the same required taxes as American citizens. They cannot be convicted of a felony (indictment is not enough), lest they be immediately deported. (It should not be a surprise to anyone that relatively few immigrants will be deported under this requirement. While there are those prone to trouble, the vast majority of immigrants desire with all of their heart to begin anew and give a good life to their family. It might even be appropriate to state that the immigrant holds more love for this country than do its native-born citizens!)

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The resident immigrant is required to learn enough of the America's native language, English, both spoken and written to an agreed-upon level of literacy.

If the resident immigrant satisfies all requirements and they have a desire to remain in America, an immediate process is started to grant them citizenship at the end of their temporary residency.

The benefits to this are enormous! The American economy benefits from LEGAL workers able to find LEGAL jobs, not hiding in the shadows and stealing to survive, paying taxes and funding their retirement and other benefits. The availability of student loans and grants would result in a higher income potential, which means more disposable income.

The criminal justice system would benefit immensely! Gone would be the days of extended and expensive incarceration. Gone would be the overwhelmed court dockets full of deportment hearings. Gone would be the overcrowded prisons. Gone would be the demonstrations for equal rights since it would be attainable by anyone willing to commit to working for it. Gone would be the crimes thqt leave victims in the lurch while the anonymous immigrant offender disappears into the woodwork. Everyone would be held accountable because everyone would exist, would be identifiable, instead of being a phantom who disappears as fast as they appeared. No longer would any immigrant have to live under the cloud of insult while being labeled and grouped under the unfounded stigma of criminal. No one would say just because you are Hispanic, "don't know what you've done, but we know you've done something". The vast majority of immigrants are honest, hardworking people worthy of more in life.

A resident worker program would relieve the stress on federal anti-terrorism efforts. Instead of spending incredible amounts of taxpayer money chasing down every single immigrant who entered this country illegally, they can marshal their resources to other, more beneficial avenues of preventing any further terror attacks in this country. They can bolster efforts and funding on existing counter-terrorism programs that are already seeing some level of success. Such an immigration reform program would make American citizens so much safer!

The former resident immigrant, now an American citizen, would not have to live under the stigma of being illegal, a law breaker, and America can enjoy yet more diversity and acceptance within its citizenry!

From a humane perspective, many immigrants who attempt to cross the border outside of border checkpoints generally choose running across a desolate wilderness with no victual supplies. To move fast, you have to pack light, which means with very little water and food. The hope is that a safe haven can be reached before U.S. Border Patrol agents catch them or they fall to exhaustion and thirst. Sometimes, they do not make it, dying in the attempt. This will not stop; we know this. Erecting a border fence will only result in tunnels being dug underneath. Border Patrol agents had already experienced this before September 11, 2001, before the outcry for a fence was heard, before the Border Patrol increased recruitment efforts, before citizen organizations were created to complement the Border Patrol's efforts, and it continuously worsens.

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If immigrants know there is a safe, dependable method for relocating to this country to take advantage of the many opportunities this great nation offers, fewer deaths will occur. Deaths that are eventually placed at our feet as our responsibility. This is a most humane alternative, and one that shows American citizens are committed to a better world for everyone.

Face it, all of us are immigrants to some extent. Somewhere in our ancestral past, our forefathers immigrated to this country. This is how America was founded. How do we rise to the esteemed name of American when our brothers and sisters are denied the name? Give an immigrant the goal of citizenship and the opportunity to attain it, they will be an outstanding American!


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Steve Bass is a journalist and scientist with a variety of training and experience in such fields as investigations, emergency management,disaster relief operations, and personal protection, as well as search and rescue and counterdrug operations. (more...)

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