Opinion: The time for major immigration reform is now

Kevin Griffin

Tyler SpaughThere are over 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, including 325,000 in North Carolina, according to slate.com. Immigration reform proposals by the government range from granting amnesty to establishing a legal pathway for citizenship, but both are dominated by squabbles from both parties.

Many Democrats are pushing for full amnesty for the illegal immigrants already here, while many Republicans, who long favored deportation measures, are now being forced to consider the reality that we’re simply not going to be able to deport 11 million people.

But both massive deportation and  full amnesty are bad policies. One is completely impractical while the other undermines America’s legal system by ignoring the fact that millions of illegal immigrants broke the law to come here.

Republicans have the most to gain by supporting immigration reform, as many Hispanics are socially conservative Catholics, according to New American Media.

The problem is that most Hispanics might have a difficult time supporting a party that threatens to deport large numbers of their friends and families.

Both parties should support at least two major reforms that make sense for everyone involved. Democrats and Republicans should work together to establish a pathway to legal citizenship, and support measures that would increase our current border security.

Securing the border is a national security risk. Illegal drugs come into America every day, and foreign terrorists could infiltrate just as easily. Even something like a ban on assault weapons, regardless of if you support it or not, is simply uninforceable as long as we have a border that has a nearly unrestricted flow of banned substances. This could cause a black market to form for the weapons banned as a result of gun control legislation.

There is absolutely no harm in creating a system that does some sort of background checks on the illegal immigrants already here, and giving citizenship to those who pass, all while incorporating them into the tax base and providing them the means to learn English.

We can’t allow people affiliated with drug cartels to stay, but we can grant citizenship to the honest, hard-working immigrants who simply want to earn a better living for themselves and their families. After all, what is America but a nation of immigrants?

Spaugh, a freshmen accounting major from Winston-Salem, is an opinion writer.