Immigration is likely the most divisive issue our country faces today.
Sadly, when it comes to producing respectable remedies and resolutions on this issue, there is no one who can hold up clean hands. Both sides of the political spectrum — Democrats and Republicans — are seemingly more intent on exploiting our immigration division to score points with their base of support versus sound leadership representing reasonable remedies toward a respectable resolution. The most embarrassing reality is exampled by a collective fear of actually establishing a path forward — something that seems to be of little urgency.
The encamped differences, at least from where I’m sitting, don’t seem to be all that great. Public opinions polls I’ve read show a solid majority of Latinos living in the U.S. agree that a path to citizenship in the United States should be conditional. Conditions include entering our country legally, a determined and timely return to their country of origin for legal application and re-entry for those residing illegally, and strictly eliminating dangerous individuals from eligibility status. I’ll wager that if we started from scratch and put together a list of necessary conditions for immigrants to seek citizenship, that the majority of both parties and most prospective immigrants could quickly reach consensus.
Meanwhile, the progressive open borders crowd needs to face reality. No modern country has open borders, nor can it afford to. Borders define countries in terms of security, economics, and yes, culture. There are simply too many people in the world for the U.S. to accept everyone who wants to come here. Not only that, the U.S. has always had some kind of regulation on immigration. Immigration applicants must be vetted, not just for criminal tendencies, but to keep sheer numbers at a level our economy can accommodate. The immigration process also serves to keep out individuals who seek to exploit our country’s freedoms and destabilize our political system in a manner which could jeopardize those very freedoms.
Just as those who support open borders must accept some hard truths, so, too, must Conservatives do some growing up and accept the responsibilities of our current world. As patriotism can devolve to jingoism, so too can nativism reduce itself to racism all too quickly. It disturbs me greatly to hear clearly racist anti-immigrant sentiments — often spoken quietly — from people on my side of the political aisle. We can do better, we must do better.
My greatest immigration frustration, as a Conservative, is in the erroneous perception that we are endorsing. For those entering our country, they see two main political parties. One of those parties appears to be welcoming them. The other party appears to be doing just the opposite. This is not a situation Conservatives and Republicans should tolerate. Also, as a Christian, I am compelled to remind myself and others that we are all God’s children. I believe the United States is an exceptional country, founded on the principle of equal opportunity. All those who believe in American exceptionalism have a moral obligation to affirmatively welcome those who legally enter our country.
Conservatives must step up and show by word and deed that our ideals of equal opportunity are not empty sentiments, or the sole province of those blessed to be born in America. We must extend helping hands to those we see working to elevate their station in life, just as we would for any of our neighbors. There is nothing unreasonable or un-American about setting limits on immigration. And there is nothing morally wrong with making sure that those who have earned their wealth can maintain their solvency and continue to enjoy the freedom to share its bounties as they see fit.
In the end, we must embrace the blessings of our political system and charge it to craft a new immigration policy that provides a resolution to this crisis. We must do it in a way that shows respect and admiration to the immigrant and to the Republic for which we stand. We not only can do this, we must do this, if we are to maintain our standing as the beacon of liberty the world over.
Eric Hogue is Vice President of Advancement at Colorado Christian University.