[Soldier, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, July, 1983]I'm of two minds about Arizona's tough new illegal immigration law. I can understand why people in Arizona are fed up with being taxed to provide services for people who are here illegally. According to tonight's "CBS Evening News," about half a million illegal aliens live there. To what extent these "undocumented" people (to use the politically correct term) have exacerbated the crime problem in Arizona, I don't know. But many Arizonan's think they have. On the other hand, the comedians who are reminding us of that "Show me your papers!" cliché of World War II films have a point. There are unfortunate Third Reich overtones to the new law. I can understand why Latinos are upset. Enforcement will depend on racial profiling.
Just last night, "60 Minutes" jumped on the bandwagon, running a piece on how hundreds of Mexicans have drowned trying to swim across a fast-moving irrigation canal that forms a significant stretch of the border.
That's indeed sad, but I keep coming back to the fact that they were voluntarily risking their lives in order to enter the country illegally. No one made them take the risk, and the canal is not a moat intended to keep Mexicans out. it is an irrigation canal--period.
And this morning, I noticed a pundit on TV decrying the fact that our immigration policies have broken up families.
That, too, is sad, but I keep coming back to this fact: they're here illegally. They knew they were subject to deportation when they came.
Still, I can understand the impetus. For all our faults and problems, America has much more to offer than Mexico. I also understand that we would all be paying much more for our fruits and vegetables were it not for large numbers of illegal/undocumented aliens.
Hence, I would like to advance a modest proposal of sorts: let's start an American Foreign Legion.
The big draw for the fabled French Foreign Legion has always been permission to reside in France--following an honorable discharge, of course. The Legion still exists, in part, because not enough Frenchmen are willing to enlist in defense of France and its interest. We have essentially the same problem. Not enough Americans are willing to enlist in defense of our America's defense and interests. Otherwise, we wouldn't have to maintain an inhuman operational tempo that keeps our troops deployed more than they're home.
I see at least a partial solution to both problems--illegal immigration and an inadequate All-Volunteer Force. Why not offer Mexicans and other foreigners the same sort of deal the French Foreign Legion offers? We could offer enlistees and their families permanent resident status in return for four years of honorable service in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force. I would even extend the deal to those here illegally. We could wipe the slate clean and offer permanent resident status to illegal aliens who self-identify by enlisting. Their families, in turn, could stay as long as their military sponsors continued to serve honorably.
Frankly, I would rather see our political leadership refrain from getting us involved in unnecessary and self-defeating wars. Likewise, I would like to see our President and our Congress give real substance to their rhetoric about the current war being a national imperative, and I don't see how they can do that without reinstating the draft and making the middle class share the inconvenience and the pain. I would like to see the Federal government come up with a reasonable Scandinavian-style guest worker program and to take responsibility such "guests" rather than placing another financial burden on the already hard-pressed states and municipalities. Finally, I would like to see today's young people feel an obligation to render some type of national service.
But since none of these things is likely to happen, I'm for forming an American Foreign Legion. --EFP