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$120,000 question: Why educate part of our future and then deport it?

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POSTED August 26, 2012 10:31 p.m.

You invest 15 years educating someone.

You also contributed to their health and well being.

It isn’t a cheap investment. The cost of the education alone is in excess of $120,000.

But right when they are in a position to start providing a return on your investment, you toss them aside.

It wouldn’t be a prudent economic move.

That is exactly what we are doing if we push to deport illegals that have been educated by our public schools and community colleges. Almost equally insane are college students who come here on foreign student visas to get degrees in engineering, medicine, and other sciences who decide they’d prefer to stay in America.

We say no, and send them packing home to a country where the skills they acquired in our universities are then used to compete against us in the global economy.

The economic drain that we place on our economy after footing the bill for educating immigrants - whether they are temporary or illegal - points to why we must find a middle ground in the ongoing immigration debate.

Immigrants - legal and otherwise - coupled with the relative freedom we have in this country as individuals to succeed on a personal level financially - has set the United States apart from much of the world for 236 years.

A workable solution must address illegal entry into this country. It must also include an amnesty program for those without criminal records who are already here. There needs to be a provision to allow residential visas for those that we help achieve higher education goals. And it needs to include a guest worker program aimed specifically at filling agricultural jobs and that includes severe consequences for employers who opt to hire illegal workers instead.

If you need convincing, just listen to the young illegals interviewed on TV.

They have a command of the English language and they are goal driven.

In California alone, the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute estimates between 350,000 and 460,000 illegal immigrants are eligible for what amounts to a temporary amnesty program. In exchange for a $465 processing fee, illegals who came to this country before they turned 16 and who have yet to turn 30 can apply for a work permit. It essentially defers the possibility of deportation for at least two years.

Applicants are rejected if they have been convicted of a felony or have accumulated three misdemeanors.

A surprising number are employed under the table. That brings us to the other side of the coin. Critics contend that granting work permits will only make it harder for citizens and legal immigrants to find jobs. Don’t look now but they already have jobs.

That leads to the real problem behind immigration reform - those who take advantage of the status of illegals to profit from hiring them.

It is amazing the number of smaller businesses that the Immigration and Custom Enforcement folks hammer to produce records regarding their employees’ legal status as Americans whether it as a citizen or legal immigrant.

Enforcement against the big boys - the Walmarts and corporate farms of the world - is spotty at best. And when fines are imposed, they are often the equivalent of the profit a firm like Walmart makes in 10 seconds.

As long as there are financial incentives - the ability to pay substandard wages and avoid expensive payroll taxes and firms with legal resources and deep pockets - then illegals working in this country will always be a problem.

Make no doubt about it. Illegal immigrants are just that - illegal.

That said it makes absolutely no sense after we have invested years of resources into educating young illegals that are otherwise law abiding and in many cases productive citizens who are already working to simply pursue a policy that deports them.

They have demonstrated the moxie that is needed to move America forward by combating long odds and taking what work they can.

It’s a simple choice. Either we can address the illegal immigration issues by addressing those who are already here and making it tougher to enter the country illegally, or we can continue to do what we have been doing which is playing cat and mouse while essentially educating and deporting people who will then chip away at our economy from outside of our borders.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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