It is disappointing to see the immigration discourse distorted even further by Tuesday's editorial, "Distorting the immigration debate" (July 5), which presents the false dichotomy that each side of the discussion fits into either "pro-enforcement" or "anti-enforcement" categories.
If there's one thing both sides can agree on, it's that America is a nation of laws. It's worth remembering, however, that through our representative democracy, we write those laws. When our laws become outdated, we change them.
A century ago, the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 miles per hour. Today, traffic laws have been updated to meet the demands and realities of a 21st century America. Unfortunately, our immigration laws have not.
Historically, when the United States has offered adequate legal paths for immigrants to come to the America, illegal immigration has reduced to a trickle. From 1942 to 1964, the United States implemented a guest worker system called the Bracero program. During the first 12 years of the program, the quotas were too low and illegal immigration continued to be a problem.
After quotas were raised to realistic levels in 1953, illegal border crossings dropped 95 percent. Although Bracero was not without its faults, it did demonstrate an important lesson we should heed today: When immigrants are given the option, they come legally.
Sometime between then and now, policymakers rewrote Emma Lazarus' famous poem to read "Give me two-thirds of your tired, 1 percent of your poor, and 15 percent of your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." After immigration quotas were lowered in 1964, illegal immigration increased dramatically.
Yes, upholding the rule of law is essential to our identity and integrity as a nation. The best way to enforce the rule of law is to pass enforceable laws. We need a legal system that works and quotas that reflect our economic needs. Once we achieve that, illegal immigration will become a non-issue.