There is quite a debate going on about what’s come out of Arizona in regards to immigration. I’ve listened to the pundits, the strategists, the politicians, and to be honest, a lot of people full of themselves and hot air.
I’ve heard both parties weigh in. The Democrats say this is un-American, racially motivated, and fueled by discriminatory “power-mongers” who want to keep the common man down. Critics have picketed, and just recently painted swastikas and smeared refried beans on government buildings.
The Republicans say this is not that big of a deal. If someone has nothing to hide, well, then they have nothing to hide. And just because the police have the power to stop someone and ask for identification doesn’t mean they will really do it. They also say that if someone is here illegally they should not expect to be able to roam freely without questioning, and should have paperwork to their status in the U.S.
Here’s my problem with both sides; they are ignoring the real problem. It reminds me of an old story… (cue the flashback harp…)
Once upon a time there was a small town neighborhood. Everyone there had nice little homes, nice little yards, and nice little lives. Everything was, well, nice.
And neighbors treated each other with respect. They would wave at each other from their driveways or exchange a nod as they mowed their lawns. This neighborhood was civil and cordial and everyone got along.
And like most neighborhoods, there were rules, both formal and informal, that everyone followed.
For example, when Mr. Jones wanted to talk to Mr. Smith, he could walk across the street and knock on his door. Mr. Smith would answer the door and invite Mr. Jones in for a lemonade and a dill pickle on a stick. They would sit back to watch the big game on cable, talk about their lawns, and generally try to get out of doing anything on their honey-do lists.
But one day something strange happened. Mr. Jones decided he wanted to drop by Mr. Smith’s house. He knocked on the door but no one was home. Mr. Jones stood at the door and scratched his head. Where would he get a glass of cold lemonade, or a dill pickle on a stick, and how would he watch the big game on cable? It was very inconvenient for Mr. Smith to be gone in such a time of need.
So Mr. Jones did something even stranger. Instead of heading home to finish his honey do’s, he decided to try to open the door. Much to his surprise, the door was open.
“Hello, is anybody home?” Mr. Jones mumbled half-heartedly. As he sunk into Mr. Smith’s couch and switched on the cable, but something was missing. Oh, that’s right, a glass of lemonade and a dill pickle on a stick. So he got up from the couch, strode to the fridge, and helped himself. Walking back to the couch he settled in to finish watching the big game.
A few hours later Mr. Smith returned home to find Mr. Jones asleep on his couch, a half empty jar of dill pickles in his lap. Mr. Smith was startled to find him there, and the yelp he made at the discovery woke Mr. Jones from his slumber, dumping the jar of dill pickles to the floor.
“Oh, hey Mr. Smith,” said Mr. Jones. “Welcome back.” And with that he grabbed a pickle from the upended pickle jar and headed for the door.
Mr. Smith was flabbergasted. He quickly walked next door to Mr. Johnson’s place. He knocked on the door and was relieved to find Mr. Johnson at home.
“You’ll never believe what just happened,” said Mr. Smith.
“Tell me everything,” said Mr. Johnson.
So Mr. Smith did. Mr. Johnson sat there with his finger on his chin, nodding along as the story went on.
“So tell Mr. Jones he isn’t allowed in your home without your permission,” said Mr. Johnson.
“I thought of that,” exclaimed Mr. Smith, “but he obviously doesn’t care much about that. He let himself in, he helped himself to my food and cable, and left without even apologizing.”
“So put a lock on your door,” said Mr. Johnson.
“A lock?” questioned Mr. Smith. “ What will that do?”
“Well for one, it would keep him out of your house when he doesn’t have permission to be there,” replied Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Smith sighed. “But aren’t those expensive? With all the things I have been buying lately, my credit is a bit overextended. And let’s be honest, I’d rather spend my money on a new boat, or a luxury car, or a little bit of Botox for the Mrs.”
Mr. Johnson persisted. “But if he is not supposed to be there, and he won’t follow the rules, what other choice do you have?”
“Maybe we’ll just ignore it,” answered Mr. Smith, “It’s not that big of a deal. And anyway, I don’t want Mr. Jones to think I don’t like him. I mean, it would be rude for him to find more door locked after being able to visit with freedom before.”
So that’s what Mr. Smith did. But it didn’t solve anything. Soon Mr. Jones was dropping in at all hours of the day and night, and Mr. Smith even found him napping in his bed, using his toothbrush, and “borrowing his car” from time to time.
Mr. Johnson watched from afar and scratched his head. Soon Mr. Smith was coming up with other “great ideas” to fix the problem.
“Maybe if I grant him free access to my home at any time he’ll start treating me with respect,” brainstormed Mr. Smith. “Just a one-time ‘amnesty’. I’ll just tell him that this doesn’t apply to any of his friends. I mean, we can’t have Mr. Jones leave the neighborhood, we need him to stay!”
“Or maybe when I find him in my house I’ll ask to see his mortgage papers,” thought Mr. Smith, “and if he doesn’t have them I’ll send him back over to his place. That will teach him!”
This idea pleased Mr. Smith so much that he started it early the next day…very early. When Mr. Smith got out of the shower he was shocked to find Mr. Jones shaving his back with his favorite razor. It was time to act!
“This has got to stop, Mr. Jones!” yelled Mr. Smith. “You come and go as you please, you use my stuff, and you don’t even ask for permission!”
“But we’re great friends, almost like family, Mr. Smith.” Said Mr. Jones. “What gives?”
“This is my house, and my stuff, and every time I come home I find that the things expected to be there have disappeared and ended up being consumed by you!” exclaimed Mr. Smith, “It’s costing much more money to live this way, and I feel like I’m getting less and less.”
“Wow,” said Mr. Jones, “that’s a real bummer, neighbor.”
“So, if you want to be here I need to see your mortgage papers for this residence.” Said Mr. Smith with a false bravado. “If you do not have mortgage papers for this home then you’ll have to leave.”
“Wow.” sighed Mr. Jones. “That’s going to be a little tough. You see, I don’t have those.”
“Ah-Ha!” cried Mr. Smith. “Then you’ll have to leave. I hope you understand. No hard feelings.”
“I understand completely,” said Mr. Jones, “and I’ll be on my way.”
“You will?” said Mr. Smith. He nearly dropped his towel in disbelief.
“But of course. My pleasure. Goodbye old friend.” And with that Mr. Jones headed toward the door.
Mr. Smith stood in shock, amazed at his change of fortune. As water dripped to the bath mat, he vaguely heard Mr. Jones clear his throat from the other room.
“Um, neighbor?” croaked Mr. Jones, “I forgot to tell you that you are out of pickles. You may want to pick some up tonight.”
“Um, yeah… sure,” Mr. Smith stammered, “Pickles.”
“Great!” said Mr. Jones, “See you in the morning…”
Who’s to blame? Sure Mr. Jones is not following the rules, and that’s what started this whole mess. But doesn’t Mr. Smith have some responsibility in the problem too?
More specifically, illegal immigrants, regardless of why they come to this country, are breaking the rules. But a government that allows its borders to be as porous as an old sponge is just as culpable.
Let’s deal with the root issue before attacking the symptoms.
So, while all the other “experts” debate the latest Arizona law change, I’m siding with Mr. Johnson.
I was thinking the other day that all the political parties have a “platform” that they state they follow (although I’m not sure they have ever read it… kind of like most of the bills they pass). It struck me that I have never really put on paper what I believe on many of the issues debated every day.
In 1947, Peter Marshall the Senate chaplain, prayed the following prayer:
“Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for—because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”
I think Peter Marshall is right. Unless we know what we stand for, how will we know when we’re being taken down the wrong path? So I’m forcing myself to put into words where I stand. As issues come up, I’ll dig in and share my thoughts. I’d encourage you to do the same.
So, I’m codifying the first plank in my personal platform (which, by the way, is not being done by order of importance).
My Personal Platform:
– Immigration & Border Security:
- I’m for a country that maintains and protects its own border. If we can’t keep track of who is coming into our country and for what reason, or protect our citizens from those who may want to harm us, we are the only ones we should blame. Hire people to “watch the door”. Build fences in areas that are tough to patrol and use technology to assist in these efforts.
- Don’t cheapen citizenship because it may make things hard for us in the short-term. Amnesty is a cop-out. Don’t disrespect those who follow the rules by allowing shortcuts for those who won’t. Don’t treat the symptoms, address the real problem.
P.S. Before the question even is raised… no, I am not considering running for office, nor do I have an interest to in the future. This exercise is not a political on, it’s a personal one, and one that will likely be refined and expanded as I grapple with each issue.
This post was originally written April 26, 2010, but more recently posted here to consolidate my writing. Enjoy!