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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

If It’s Broke Don’t Ride It

As I was leaving our nation’s capitol Thursday, the weather turned to spring and I got to thinking what a beautiful day for a bike ride. The cherry trees were in blossom around town and the light breeze lifted me as I breathed in fresh air.

Unfortunately my 2:30 flight didn’t allow time for a bike ride, but I did have the chance to reflect on what I learned on our legislative trip. I think what was the most eye opening and troublesome is that I became convinced that our system is broken. Maybe I was already convinced, but it just became a reality.

Take for example the issue of immigration. If pressed, I have an opinion about it, but that’s not what this is about. This is about things that are broken.

Immigration is certainly a hot topic for America and the upcoming elections, but also a perfect illustration of a broken system. The US Chamber of Commerce briefed us Tuesday on their involvement in the issue. There are an estimated 12 million “shadow workers” in the US today. These are people working illegally, many of whom pay taxes, but none the less are in our country illegally. How do we fix this problem? Many suggest we absorb them by making the process easier to immigrate legally. Not providing amnesty and granting them immediate legal status, but providing a grace period of sorts whereby they can process through immigration and become legal citizens.

Oh, what a splendid compromise. That sounds like it would work so wonderfully, but guess again. Presently, the United States allows for 65,000 legal immigrants to be given citizenship per year. In case your wondering 12,000,000 divided by 65,000 is 184.6 years. While we may be used to government working slowly, that’s a little much unless shadow workers are okay with waiting for their great grandchildren to be the first citizens of the United States in their family.

But have faith! Our government isn’t made of idiots. They can do the math can’t they? Obviously they can because they are raising the limit from 65,000 to 215,000 legal immigrants per year. That cuts the number substantially by 70%, from 184 years to a measly 55.2 years. Much more acceptable I think. Oh yeah, but did I mention that presently there is such a demand for legal immigration into the US that the 2007 quota has been filled, and the 2008 quota is almost filled and this without any influx of shadow workers being added to the daily workload.

I’m sure though that our hard working and dedicated immigration officers are quite capable of picking up the extra slack for the next 55 years or so and double their production to accommodate the shadow workers. In case you’ve never met a government worker, let me explain sarcasm… Continuing with my sarcastic remarks - because the process of legally immigrating takes the sponsorship of a business, which is already quite costly, and our government understands the concept of economics, immigration decided it would raise the price of immigration in hopes of limiting the number of applications. It all makes perfect sense now doesn’t it?

We want 12 million illegal immigrants to become a legal part of our working class, yet it will take 55 years to immigrate them all if our government increases the proposed capacity by 100% and the current capacity by 662%. Meanwhile we can’t keep up with the current rate of immigration at a mere 15% of what it would take to accomplish in 55 years. That doesn’t even take into account things like population growth. Certainly as a worker, today age 30, has children and grandchildren, the 12 million shadow people will grow too. As the day passes and the sun sets, the shadow will grow longer.

It kind of reminds me of walking along the sidewalk on a beautiful day and seeing a bicycle leaned up against a light post and thinking to my self, “what a great day to ride a bike, I’m going to go hop on that one and take a spin around the block.” Then as I walk up to the bike, I realize that the bike has a flat back tire, is missing the front one altogether, the chain has rusted in half and the seat is missing. No matter how nice the day it’s not very realistic to think I’m going to be able to pedal down the driveway and past the blossoming cherry trees, enjoying the sunshine.