Illegal Immigrants Citizenship; It's Good for Americans
Writer: Michael Wildes
Wildes, an immigration lawyer and a former
federal prosecutor, is the Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey . As partner
of NYC-based immigration law firm Wildes
& Weinberg , established by his
father, Leon Wildes, in 1960, Wildes has become internationally renowned
for having represented the United States Government in immigration proceedings.
He was elected Mayor of Englewood in November of 2003 and to a second
term in November 2006.
Across the nation
there is call for comprehensive immigration reform , and during this period
of turmoil in immigration policy, it is important to keep some basic precepts
There is an estimated 11 million to 20 million undocumented aliens currently
living in the United States, but we don't know WHO they are and we don't
know WHERE they came from. The enormity of the problem has caused paralysis
and political impotence for years, but the tragic events of September
11, 2001 were the catalyst for a grassroots effort to force Congress to
confront the immigration issue comprehensively and publicly. And though
our national psyche has not yet fully recovered from the personal losses
suffered by many and the public outrage felt by all, the conversation
about border control and immigration policy must take place now -- while
detached reflection remains practically impossible.
This discussion must take place within the parameters of certain realities.
First, America will never support the destruction of the nuclear family.
The separation of child from parent or husband from wife is antithetical
to the very core of our national identity, and therefore any suggestion
of removal en masse of these millions of illegal immigrants is simply
Second, it is unrealistic to believe that our government has the resources
to find, detain, grant due process, and remove millions of aliens from
inside our borders. As such, the argument favoring mass deportation is
unsustainable even as applied to those without immediate family ties to
Third, disregarding the biased statistics advanced by those on both sides
of the issue, simple math tells us that these individuals provide approximately
4 - 5% of our national labor force and should, therefore, be paying their
share in taxes. The economic reality is that legalizing undocumented aliens
provides a sorely needed resource to our shrinking Social Security fund
while removing the financial burden currently placed upon the taxpayer
to provide medical and educational services to illegal aliens and their
We must accept the
only rational course and admit that our past border policies have failed.
A national admission of failure in this regard is, at this stage, acceptable
if the lessons learned from it provide us with the improved policies and
strategies needed for a safer future. With millions of illegal aliens
living clandestine lives in our nation, any effort to document them is
doomed to failure if it doesn't contain a reasonable opportunity for them
to achieve citizenship at some point. Drawing the many, hard-working
worthy out of the darkness is the only way to shine a light on the unwanted,
Finally, I extend a plea to the members of Congress to deliberate and
debate this issue with the requisite compassion and informed resolve that
it requires. The complexity of the issue is matched only by its importance
to our national identity. Can anyone doubt that our nation possesses citizens
with the combined intellect, compassion, and creativity necessary to meet
the challenge of forging a balanced and lasting solution to the immigration
Unfortunately, the conversation is taking place during a period of polarized,
politicized, and partisan animosity almost unprecedented in our nation's
history. While issues of great social significance can be argued in the
streets, they are not required to be street fights. It should be clear
to all that while this conversation can't be separated from the emotion
of its time, it must be considered in the light of our entire history.
We are a nation of immigrants. More than any nation in modern history
we have embraced diversity and been strengthened by the contributions
of the foreign-born members of our society. Every American reading this
is blessed to be so called because of the opportunity of entry given to
a member of their family.
To deny this opportunity to others because of fear, economics or bigotry
is to deny our capacity to resolve this issue with the compassion and
innovation that is worthy of our great nation.
for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes For Mayor, Amy Wildes, Treasurer
Allison Court, Englewood, NJ 07631