By Stephen J. Dunn
At a recent debate in Iowa, candidate Newt Gingrich backed a plan to allow undocumented aliens who have been living in this country for years and contributing to society to lawfully remain here. He said, “If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church—I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.”
Mr. Gingrich proposes a means for undocumenteds living peaceable, productive lives to lawfully remain in this country. He is not necessarily advocating full citizenship for undocumenteds.
One of Mr. Gingrich’s rivals accuses him of advocating “amnesty” for undocumented aliens. “Amnesty” for this purpose means anything short of deporting undocumenteds.
Deporting undocumented aliens is not an option. Bringing legal proceedings to deport an estimated 12 million undocumenteds would be unrealistically expensive.
Deporting undocumenteds would also be inhuman. This is their home. Many of them have children born here who are American citizens.
The undocumenteds I have known came to this country for one reason: an opportunity to earn a living. They tend to work extremely hard, often holding more than one job. They do work the rest of us don’t want to do, like groundskeeping, domestic service, and restaurant work. They are peaceable, respectful, God-fearing people.
Undocumenteds are vulnerable to exploitation on threat of being reported to immigration authorities. Their poor English language skills also place them at a disadvantage in this country.
Unscrupulous employers hire undocumenteds “under the table” to save Social Security tax, Medicare tax, unemployment insurance premiums, or workers compensation insurance premiums on their wages. Without a lawful Social Security number, undocumenteds will never participate in Social Security or Medicare. They probably will have to work all their lives. Their income ceases if they lose their job or they are unable to work for any reason.
Several years ago I represented a man who had a business cleaning newly-constructed houses. The client and his employees were all born in Mexico. He needed to have his tax returns prepared and filed. He had paid a substantial sum to a charlatan tax consultant, who promised to prepare and file the client’s tax returns and pay his taxes. The consultant took the client’s money and did nothing in return. The client was trying to comply with our tax laws.
We are a country of laws. That we have 12 million aliens living in this country without the permission of our government is intolerable.
Most important is the biblical foundation for Mr. Gingrich’s position. Christ said, “What you do onto the least to my people you do onto me.” Undocumented aliens are the least among us.
A means for undocumented aliens to gain the right to lawfully remain in this country makes sense, and comports with our values. Mr. Gingrich speaks for me.