One of incoming President Joe Biden’s first executive orders will end the Trump ban of travelers from predominantly Muslim countries.

I know a lot of you in this liberal state with a heavy history of in-migration of Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos and Pacific Islanders got your dander up each time Trump unveiled a new anti-immigration policy.

But the facts tell us our immigration system is in need of some repair. There may be 10 million people here from other countries with no legal permission. We wrestle with the pros and cons of allowing them free schooling, jobs which citizens might want, and free hospital care.

Do we honor our history and traditions as a nation that’s welcomed immigrants from everywhere? Or join the immigration restrictionists who say there are rules about who gets in and who is rejected and we should strictly enforce them?

Example: We allow asylum for those politically persecuted. A noble allowance. But often misused by skilled fakers. Immigration judges are tasked with weeding out the unqualified. There are no set rules. It’s always a judgment call.

And as for general immigration, we’ve seen more Americans supporting it, rejecting entirely ICE raids, calling for open borders. They have been out-shouted recently by those wanting  maximum enforcement and even total abolition.

The think-tank Center for American Progress asks “Isn’t it time to break this cycle of extremes and build an immigration system that is workable and humane and that the public broadly believes can — and should — be enforced through rules that are fair and just?”

That certainly would be my goal if I had a voice in making policy in the Biden administration. For now, this column and these suggestions will have to suffice.

For those who say “American jobs for Americans first” I’d say let’s use a supply and demand system rather than our how-many-can-come-in one. Some jobs go wanting as Americans move up in education. Crop harvesters, house cleaning, yard cleaning, slaughterhouse work, and various sanitation jobs. Immigrants are willing to take them.

Most urgent for me would be creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Allow people to come forward, register with the government, pass a background check, and be put on a path to permanent tax-paying residence and eventual citizenship.

Did you know that most undocumented immigrants here on average have already lived in the U.S. for nearly 15 years? 

And their record of employment and law problems pretty much matches that of citizens. Wouldn’t you rather have them integrated as tax-paying citizens rather than prey being hunted by ICE agents, not paying taxes and using our hospital emergency rooms in place of doctor’s office visits?

There’s no question in my mind that we need laws that at least keep families together while their status here is being determined. We should also grease the way for children who were left behind, or parents who let their children slip in first, to be reunited.

We need heavy-duty vetting for those with criminal or terroristic backgrounds. No question there.

But our quota system by country seems patently unfair and unAmerican. And to even think about denying immigration to Muslims is a repulsive thought only our former president and his most sycophantic followers would tolerate.

The Biden administration will have its hands full but high on the list of to-do’s should be revisiting our immigration laws.

We haven’t done that since 1986 with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which made it illegal to hire or recruit illegal immigrants. The law did not provide any legal way for  low-skilled workers to enter the United States. So they sneak in, hide, but use our schools, welfare programs and hospitals.

It isn’t working but we keep refusing to fix it.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

6 replies on “Special Sunday Report: Let Them In, But With Some Fix-Ups”

  1. I know we all have to bash Trump at every opportunity but he banned immigrants from countries that were exporting terrorists. Most Muslim countries were not on the banned list.
    I don’t like Trump but I don’t like lies either .

  2. Maybe we should have looked a little more closely at immigration from Afghanistan before 9/11/2001.

  3. “most undocumented immigrants here on average have already lived in the U.S. for nearly 15 years”

    That would suggest that the net inflow of undocumented immigrants has been lower recently than in times before that.

    “Most urgent for me would be creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.”

    I’m not sure about this. I don’t like the idea of rewarding people who don’t follow our rules.

    I would be more in favor of a legal status below full citizenship, e.g., that doesn’t create a path for immigrants here illegally to sponsor others to follow them here. Perhaps leave open the avenue of deportation for a committing a heinous crime.

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