According to Reuters, there were an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants living in the United States on January 1, 2009. That is approximately the same number of people as live in the state of Ohio. Think of the implications: a population equal to the 7th most populous state in the United States, living "under the radar."
Now that the Republican party has been forced to bow to the xenophobic sentiments of their obnoxious base, it seems that the only ideas the right-wing has to offer are exclusion, estrangement, and alienation. There have been calls from reactionaries to repeal the 14th Amendment. There have even been delusional crys to deport all illegal aliens!
Can you imagine how that would play out? Attempting to deport 11 million people? Consider the bitter complications that would occur from dividing families, from tearing apart communities. Even considering the logistics alone, the task would be impossible.
So, what do we do about it?
It seems that there are two options.
One option is to continue as we are doing. That is, deny citizenship to these millions of people living within our borders, relegating them to a shadow society. In that case, they will live outside the laws and structures that make our society function. There are all kinds of reasons that this is not a good idea. People who fear deportation are unlikely to report crimes to law enforcement, to contribute to the public treasury in the form of taxes, to participate in public health initiatives. A huge shadow population in our country presents no benefits, only dangers.
The other option is to create a path to citizenship for these people. Bring them out of the shadows, have them contribute to the general welfare. Yes, that's right: amnesty. Even dim-witted Junior Bush understood the need for it.
Border enforcement is a legitimate issue. Any nation has a right to demand respect for its borders. But that is a separate issue. The millions of illegal immigrants in this country are still here. So, I ask again, what do we do about it?
For me the answer is obvious: ¡Amnistía!