Citizenship nonnegotiable; live here legally or leave

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    This Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation based on the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act constructed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Among other things, the bill calls for a guest-worker program and would allow illegal immigrants six years to become legal. During that time, illegal aliens would pay fines and back taxes, as well as learn basic English and civics.The other side of Congress has its own bill, the famed H.R. 4437, which would make it a felony to not only to enter the nation illegally, but also to aid anyone in doing so. It includes penalties if someone “assists, encourages, directs, or induces” a person to illegally enter the United States.

    My research tells me H.R. 4437 is the hot button. The repercussions of this could be huge. The passage of the law that would come from these two proposals could result in a mass exodus of between 7 million and 11 million immigrants. It would mean enormous sting operations that would fracture families. The nation’s economy would lose its cheapest form of domestic labor, causing a massive need for workers in the United States’ service fields.

    There’s plenty of possibility for protest here. And protest they did.

    Hispanics protested in Fort Worth, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and almost every other major city in the United States.

    “We’re not criminals,” their signs said. And in photos on the cover of Tuesday’s Star-Telegram: “Somos Americanos” and “Aqu¡ estamos y no nos vamos (We’re here and we’re not leaving)!! Latino power.” Many waved Mexican flags, and some chanted: “M‚xico. M‚xico. M‚xico.”

    There are too many problems to count with this scene, but a few of them should be tackled.

    To begin, it would be good for the United States to remove illegal immigrants. There would be economic problems at first, but eventually, the United States’ business community would adapt, as it has in years past. High school students would start mowing lawns and babysitting children instead of lounging about, playing Halo 2 all day, and people would start cleaning their own houses. College students would pay off debts by working at factories or in construction areas, building both their real-world experience and their maturity levels.

    It would be beneficial from a security standpoint, as well. In this age of terrorism and heightened awareness, a tighter border, including one with a 700-mile wall, would mean a more secure nation.

    Economically, the money made by American citizens and legal aliens would be recycled back into the system via taxes and purchases. Instead of the United States losing $17 billion annually to Mexico alone, as reported in McCain’s bill, much of that would be added to the gross domestic product.

    Next, we have the flags and chanting. It’s a swelling of national pride. Too bad it’s the wrong nation.

    One can reasonably assume that those who left their countries of origin for the United States did it for good reasons. No one forced them to come here; these were personal decisions. If Mexico (or El Salvador, or Belize, or whatever nation) is so great, why don’t they go back? It’s not like anyone is making them stay. During my many trips across the border, only once have I had a problem entering Mexico.

    And if they want us to include them in our society, maybe they should wave our flag instead.

    Becoming a U.S. citizen is a lengthy, costly process, and applying for a green card can be difficult as well. But these goals are not unattainable. The immigration system is designed so that those who passionately want admittance into this nation can achieve it, and with the potential of a guest-worker program, it could become easier to realize the American dream. In addition, all illegal immigrants would have six years to complete the process.

    But as for the here and now, there is something every illegal alien must understand: If you are in this nation without documentation, you are breaking the law. You are not guaranteed the rights of American citizens, but you are subject to our rules. The United States has the right, as a sovereign nation, to do whatever it pleases when it comes to immigration, including kicking out illegal aliens or building walls or, on the extreme side, shooting anyone caught crossing the border without documentation.

    The harsh, cold truth is, if you’re an illegal alien, you are not an American, and yes, you are a criminal. Get legal, or get out.

    Brian Wooddell is a senior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.