Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Immigration Problem Is Just As Much A State Problem As It Is A National Problem

OK, let's start with the obligatory "I'm descended from immigrants" statement.

I'm not a genealogist, but I do have memories of my grandfather's stories. It seems that some time back, three separate families of Foley's left "The Auld Sod" of Ireland together and found themselves in the hills of southern West Virginia. Those three families were probably related in some fashion, but not in the first order. Finding themselves in southern West Virginia (or the soon to be "wayward counties") they soon regained their senses and settled in the blue mountains of Patrick County.

I have no idea what the immigration laws were at that time, although I'm sure a diligent search via Google would reveal those facts. I'm just not inclined to do the search, call me lazy, I don't care. I just know that the family of Abraham Foley followed the law as it applied at that time.

Today we in The United States are struggling with a problem with folks from our south coming into the country illegally. That is, they do not apply for a visa, they have no passport, they do not pass through customs and declare their taxable possessions.

During my lifetime so far, this problem had been confined to our border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Times have changed, employment statistics have changed, and opportunities for those from the south have changed. NAFTA has created a demand here and in neighboring North Carolina for ever cheaper labor. North Carolina has risen to the challenge by refusing to demand proof of citizenship for such necessities of life as a driver's license and vehicle registration. My brethren in the western Counties are experiencing similar problems with Tennessee.

There is much talk on both liberal and conservative blogs concerning the currently proposed various "amnesty"/"not amnesty" proposals in the current Congress. Forget that. Most of the problems we have now can be resolved by states such as North Carolina and Tennessee simply placing into effect simple requirements for proof of legal identity before issuing a driver's license or vehicle registration. Virginia has such a requirement, as I learned the hard way. This past July my license expired on my birthday. I missed it because I had grown accustomed to the old "last day of the birth month" expiration date. It seems that now your license expires on the actual birthdate. I had to send off to Salt Lake City, Utah for a copy of my birth certificate in order to renew my driver's license. I could have instead, drove 25 miles to Wentworth, North Carolina, and obtained a new license that same day.

Every day I stop at the local Valero station for coffee, newspaper, and cigarettes on my way to work. Every day there is at least one car with North Carolina plates in the parking lot, the owner of which is also on his/her way to work. Almost invariably the owner is Hispanic. I go to Wal-Mart with the same regularity as most of my readers. Invariably there will be cars parked near me with North Carolina license plates. If these folks actually lived in North Carolina the Wal-Mart in Eden or Stoneville would be much closer.

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