For more than a decade, there has been a glaring disconnect between fierce opponents of illegal immigration and nitty-gritty reality. While activists insist that the government take control of the borders and deny so-called amnesty to illegal immigrants already here, they have no realistic solution for the eleven million or so living among us.
That dilemma was brought heart-wrenchingly into view yesterday, when First Lady Michelle Obama visited a suburban Washington, DC elementary school with Mexican First Lady Margarita Zavala. From the Los Angeles Times:
At one point, Mrs. Obama took questions from a dozen second-grade students who sat in a small circle on the gymnasium floor at the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.
“My mom said … Barack Obama is going to take away everybody that doesn’t have papers,” one girl told the first lady.
“Yeah, well, that’s something that we have to work on, right?” Mrs. Obama replied. “To make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? That’s exactly right.”
The girl countered, “But my mom doesn’t have any.”
“Well, we have to work on that, we have to fix that and everybody’s got to work together in Congress to make sure that happens. That’s right,” Mrs. Obama said before moving on to the next question.
Even among the harshest advocates of stricter border control, there was an understandable reluctance to go after that little girl and her mom:
In an interview, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said, “I think it’s hard to start an investigation on a statement from a 7-year-old.”
Think about what would be involved in trying to round up nearly eleven million people to deport them. Many have lived and worked in the United States for years, paying taxes (yes, many of them pay taxes), buying houses, going to school. Some are children who were born here, which means they are citizens.
Try to imagine armed federal agents storming into houses, guns pointed at families (remember Elian Gonzalez and the outcry that caused?). Imagine the video of sobbing parents and frightened children. Is that what this country should do? Why doesn’t that concern proponents of overweaning federal power?
And how much money would it cost to do that? How much would it add to the budget deficit? How much good will would be sacrifice with countries around the world?
It makes so much more common sense to pass comprehensive immigration reform and give those folks a pathway to citizenship.