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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Illegal immigration and IDs

Here's a story on the real costs of our country's failed immigration policies when it comes to identification, in the Pioneer Press. As the article points out, there are real problems for law enforcement, schools, hospitals (where a misidentification can mean the difference between life and death), banks, and the people whose identities are sometimes stolen and sold on the streets to immigrants. Unlike the governor and other politicians, who can have debates on this issue from their ivory towers, the people on the front lines have to deal with this huge problem.

Identity theft is illegal and a huge problem, so I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for people who do get caught up in the net when the fake identities that they have cause problems. However, when the starving person has to steal a loaf of bread, I tend to feel the appropriate response is to go beyond punishment and find out why the person has to steal bread in the first place. These people are a part of our economy, our community, and our lives. A way has to be discovered that will allow them to throw away the false identities they have been using and face the same rights and responsibilities that everybody else face.

I'm sure that once again, there will be a lot of people (I have a few in mind) who will simply point out that these people are breaking the law and that we should have no sympathy for them. Well...I wonder what they would think if somehow all illegal immigrants could disappear for a while. Crops would go unharvested, houses and businesses would go uncleaned, food in restaurants would go uncooked, buildings would go unconstructed...the list goes on and on. Whether you like it or not, a good portion of our economy depends on these undocumented workers. Saying it is illegal isn't going to change reality, any more than saying that selling drugs is illegal will get dealers off of street corners. Being part of the reality-based community, I prefer to talk about realistic solutions instead of demagoguery.

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