Brian Eller

In the last few days across America, there have been numerous marches, protests and walkouts over new legislation which would make all undocumented aliens felons, require employers to confirm the immigration status of its employees, and potentially criminalize those who help undocumented aliens. Those who were trying to listen to the Ataris last Thursday were made annoyingly aware of this issue when certain demonstrators yelled slogans throughout the performance (a very clever move by the protesters, since photographs of their protest now include many Cal Poly students who could care less about immigration legislation, but who were simply listening to the Ataris).

At the heart of the immigration debate lie concerns over the economy and national security. Depending on what expert you ask or what study you look at, one side of the debate argues that illegal immigrants hurt the economy while the other says they help. Those who say that immigrants hurt the economy (many Republicans) make many legitimate arguments. For instance, many illegal immigrants do take advantage of government-funded programs and have not paid their fair share in taxes to support these programs. As a Republican, I think that the financial burden of public services should be distributed in an equal manner. However, I don’t blame the immigrants for this problem. For instance, there are many non-immigrants who are guilty of doing the same thing. If immigrants are really attracted to America, because they see it at as a welfare state to be taken advantage of, then eliminating such programs should be the main focus for Americans.

No, I bet those who cross into America illegally are more interested in finding jobs than in coming here to abuse our social services. I would even argue that if we made a law for immigrants who wanted to move to America declaring that they and their descendants would never be allowed to receive public healthcare, public schooling, social security or any form of welfare, it wouldn’t stop them from coming. I see no problem with such a deal; in a few generations the descendants of the original immigrants might even have a stronger work ethic, cheaper private schools and a more charitable attitude than the rest of us.

While many Americans are concerned about the economic impact of illegal immigration, immigration issues are very much tied to issues of national security. It’s common knowledge that America’s borders are inadequately defended. It is too easy for terrorists, criminals, weapons and illegal drugs to infiltrate America. Thus, the goal of law enforcement should focus on stopping these elements, and not on your average immigrant worker. By allowing more immigrants to enter America legally, the workload of the border patrol would be reduced allowing them to focus on more important problems. Perhaps a program could be established that charged immigrants a small fee for immigration, which in turn could pay for programs to defend our borders, while eliminating the need for smugglers.

As Americans, we must ask ourselves if we really want to accept the tired, poor, huddled masses, yearning to be free, or if we just want to say no. To critics, lady liberty is wrong and the evils of immigration outweigh the benefits. Maybe it’s a different time and immigrants really are an economic burden to America, a cause of crime, the source for a number of social ills and terrorism. It might be a surprise, but historically these same arguments have been used before. As a descendent of an immigrant to this country, I am slightly biased toward immigrants and therefore think the benefits outweigh the risks.

Brian Eller is a materials engineering sophomore and a Mustang Daily columnist.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.