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February 2008

Forum on Rail Transit Plan (Pearl Johnson)
December Meeting (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Time for Us to Vote on Immigration Policy (Jackie Parnell)
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Time for Us to Vote on Immigration Policy

The National League of Women Voters has completed its study on immigration policy and it is now time for us, as members of a local league, to educate ourselves and decide what our national League policy should be. At our December meeting we will be discussing our options and expressing our opinions.

This is Part II of our discussion on this subject: Part I was in our October issue (and continues to exist on our web site). But the best reference is the national web site: www.lwv.org. These two articles are just hitting the highlights: all the papers are there in full and definitely worth reading.

National Voter magazine

There are also two immigration briefs in your October issue of the National Voter, and there will probably be more in the November issue.

The immigration policy issues, or at least, the intensity of opinions on these issues, vary considerably across the country. Passions are highest where there has been a large influx of people, especially where the new people differ ethnically from the long time residents. In other areas, like here in Hawaii, the issues are more abstract.

In Part I, we noted that the biggest issues in immigration policy were economic impacts on American workers and the American economy, and humanitarian concerns. But there are other issues. One of these is Border Enforcement. The piece in the October issue of the National Voter concludes that the present system does not work very well but there is no simple answer.

“According to most assessments, using current single-approach border control programs to deal with protection against terrorists, apprehension of criminals, and the illegal entry of people and goods just may not be effective or efficient.”

Another hot button issue is what to do about illegal immigrants who are already here. Do you deport them? Or help them to become legal residents? Or some of each? What about children born here whose parents are illegal? Surely we are not going to deport the parents and leave the children here to fend for themselves, are we? Every effort to find a compassionate solution to this problem is derided as “amnesty” which has become a pejorative word to many people. Some of these people state that their ancestors came legally therefore anyone who doesn’t is automatically “bad.” They forget that for a long, long time there was no such thing as an “illegal.” America welcomed everybody as our ancestors tried to settle what was viewed as a wilderness.

The other question

Some people feel America is now full – no more people, please. But then the other big question comes up – who will pick the fruit and sweep the floors?

Even if Americans were willing to do these jobs, there aren’t enough of us to meet the demand. For every “Cheaper by the Dozen” family there are hundreds of one-child or no-child families.

Jackie Parnell
LWV-Hawaii President

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