Letter to Congress on Undocumented Immigrants

I wrote this to my Congressman two years ago. It bears repeating as both houses of Congress debate Immigration Reform:

“Illegal” immigration entrants are ADMINISTRATIVE violators, not criminals. It is wrong to lump them together with hard-core criminals. I have no quarrel with deporting true criminals. But a re-entrant without any other offense is not a criminal. He or she could be leaving a US citizen spouse and children long enough to go bury a father or mother and then return--without documentation, because YOU and your colleagues have failed to provide a lawful means for him or her to return to their family in the United States. It makes no sense to tear apart American families by constantly trying to remove these otherwise hard-working and non-criminal Americans. Give them a way to fully become Americans with the rest of their family, to get driver's licenses, pay taxes, and finally come out of the shadows.

This wrong-headed enforcement-only mentality is doing great harm to our country. Enforcement-only is un-Christian, un-American, and harmful to our economy. We could instead have a major source of revenue by legalizing all qualified immigrants and receiving their tax revenues, which the country is losing right now to a cash economy. Enforcement-only is a mean-spirited response to the ancient Judeo-Christian heritage of caring for the alien, "because we were once aliens in Egypt."

It's easy to say, "Throw them all out," but a high percentage of undocumented immigrants have family members who are U.S. citizens. Many already are on the path to legal permanent residency available to them under existing immigration laws--this includes re-entrants, too. So it is not just a simple black and white issue. We need political leaders who will take the time to study the issues and try to achieve a fair solution that will benefit the country as a whole and not just play to a vocal and strident minority who have no mercy and little understanding of or interest in the larger issues at stake in the immigration debate.

David Froman