Let the right ones in

Here's the historical information on immigration from the U.S. Census Bureau: www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0029/twps0029.html.

Immigration reform has long been an issue close to the hearts of many Nevadans. With our proximity to Mexico and the West Coast as well as our high demand for service industry positions, Nevada is a perfect storm of immigration controversy, especially when it comes to undocumented workers. On one hand, undocumented workers provide abundant cheap labor, particularly for positions that don’t require much education. Who hasn’t driven past a home improvement store and seen clusters of hired hands waiting for a day’s work? With the ability to negotiate the payment of a service, both laborers and employers can find a satisfactory arrangement.

On the other hand, undocumented workers might not always contribute to certain tax pools. While sales tax and property tax are unavoidable, income tax may or may not be taken out depending on the nature of the work. Then again, income tax isn’t an issue in Nevada, and the taxes that undocumented immigrants do pay wind up going toward widely used services like schools and roads. What really seems to get people riled up is the idea of an oversaturation of workers in the economy who are “taking American jobs.” With an influx of immigrants arriving in the states every day, there is also the element of a perceived threat to American traditions.

So with this complex issue pulling at the American psyche, politicians along both Democrat and Republican lines have been trying to assuage the situation with various plans for immigration reform. While some methods include aggressive deportation or a requirement to carry documentation (like with Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers” law), there are other options available.

One route that is being strongly considered by the Libertarian Party is a two-part solution. The first part involves not only providing amnesty for undocumented workers who are currently residing in the U.S. but also increasing the ease with which immigrants can receive work visas and naturalization. The second part is improving border security. Theoretically, a more streamlined visa and naturalization process would reduce the need for illegal border crossing for immigrants. However, an added bonus to improved border security would be a reduction in criminal activity such as drugs and human trafficking.

The incorporation of immigrants as new U.S. citizens is a time-honored keystone of American culture. The “melting pot” still stands as an important facet of America’s strength as a nation. By welcoming new talents and laborers into the country, there is a potential for growth that would not otherwise be possible. We need a system that allows people to move about freely, thereby contributing their skills to the American economy. By doing so, we would essentially be decriminalizing many of the issues that come with undocumented workers, saving money in the judicial process as well as taxpayer money that goes toward law enforcement, imprisonment and deportation.

The condition of being an undocumented worker is not a violent one, and yet many people who have illegally immigrated to the United States are treated with disdain and mistrust that is tantamount to racial profiling. Those who emigrate from their native homes to come to America are just seeking what everyone else is seeking: a better, more productive life. In some cases, particularly when an immigrant hails from a developing country, their contribution to the world economy does twice the amount of good when they are able to send money home to their families as well as provide much-needed services on American soil.

All in all, increasing the ease with which immigrants can work and live in America can only benefit our country in the long run, especially in Nevada. It’s time to embrace immigration reform and realize that we need diversity to grow and thrive.