The Supreme Court says Arizona can fight back in limited ways against illegal immigration that threatens fiscal health and more, but that alone won't fix things. We need comprehensive, national immigration reform, which is to say that we need to do something about those arriving here honestly. That's better than a million a year who are mostly ill equipped to make it in America.
We import more permanent immigrants headed for citizenship every year than the rest of the world combined, according to Jan C. Ting, a former assistant commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the sad fact is that many arrive poor and stay poor. The numbers having children out of wedlock are high, and nothing more eviscerates opportunity than single-parent homes.
Yes, it's true, we are a nation of immigrants, and that is a fine and wonderful thing, and I am happy to tell you I am German, Swiss, English, Welsh and Scottish, with a touch of Irish and maybe some Italian. Just say no to some scorned immigrant group at certain times in our history, and there would be no me.
But we are bringing in more than we could assimilate if we tried, and because of rampant multiculturalism, we are not trying very hard. There's lot of hand wringing about growing poverty and income inequality without some of the loudest complainers noticing that current immigration policies are a major factor.
"The demographic challenges affecting Social Security and Medicare should not be addressed by further increasing the current historically high level of legal immigration to the U.S., which would only increase the eventual demands on those programs and aggravate other social problems," wrote Ting in a New York Times opinion piece on Oct. 16 of last year.
Now a Temple University law professor, he argued that we should focus on admitting young, English-speaking immigrants with scientific, technical and managerial skills, and I say yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I agree with him that those benefiting would include current immigrants who would then not face new multitudes competing for their jobs each year.
If we could do something like that while holding the numbers down to something reasonable at the same time, we could more easily afford to proffer chances for citizenship to those long-term illegal immigrants currently contributing to this society.
Several steps would be necessary for such a move to be something less than an invitation for illegals to keep pouring in -- an ID verification system for employment, tough penalties against employers who did not abide by the law and increased border surveillance, for starters.
Even without reform, something amazing is happening -- larger numbers of Mexican immigrants have lately been returning home than have been arriving. Some of this is due to a bad economy that we all hope will get better, as well as to increased federal deportations. But it is true, too, that Mexican birthrates are down, indicating that the numbers knocking on the door could continue to be significantly fewer than in the past.
Solutions of the kind we do not need are more politics on the issue from President Barack Obama. The Latino vote is hugely important in this year's presidential election, and it can hardly have been an accident that he granted amnesty to young illegal aliens without benefit of democratic processes.
In a dissent to portions of the Arizona ruling, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found it more than a bit odd that the court would not let Arizona do more to protect itself. He contrasted that with Obama acting on his own to put Arizona more at risk by ignoring parts of the law. I have to tell you, it warms my heart that there is someone in high office in this country as frank and intelligent as Scalia.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. Email SpeaktoJay@aol.com.