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Friday, June 21, 2013

Immigration and Citizenship

by Kerby Anderson, Point of View: The upcoming vote on the immigration bill will certainly hinge on the citizenship provision. For some in the Senate and many in the House, it is objectionable. To understand, let’s consider the value of American citizenship.

For many people around the world, becoming a citizen of the United States is the highest achievement they could ever consider. It would be like winning the lottery. In fact, many enter into what looks like a lottery to see if they might have an opportunity to come to this country and eventually become a naturalized citizen. The best estimates are that about 4.6 million people around the world are on a waiting list to come to the United States and eventually become citizens.

The current immigration bill provides a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million people here illegally. Some crossed our borders illegally. Others came her legally and overstayed their visas. And still others are children who were born here to parents who were here illegally.

Critics of the citizenship provision rightly argue that everyone should play by the same rules. We wouldn’t put up with someone cutting ahead of us in line. We don’t want to reward bad behavior. Yet, that is what many fear will happen with a provision that provides a pathway to citizenship for people who broke the law and are here illegally. They jumped in line ahead of the millions overseas that have been waiting to legally come to this country. Their presence in this country began with a violation of the law. Either they broke the law or their parents broke the law.

Certainly something must be done. Some have talked about legalization and registration, without a pathway to citizenship. And in many cases, deportation is also a reasonable action. But conferring this valuable gift of citizenship on those here illegally seems like a violation of the basic principles of fairness and invites future immigrants to break the law in the hopes of gaining citizenship.

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