The U.S. government has failed the American people time and time again, on the issue of illegal immigration. Democrats and Republicans alike, liberals and conservatives, the powers that be in Washington have thrown up their collective hands, closed their eyes, and said to the world, "We can't solve the problem."
And that's not good enough.
Not by a long shot.
Earlier this month, Georgia found itself under the immigration microscope over the status of an undocumented student at Kennesaw State University. Jessica Colotl, 21, has been living in the United States since she was 10.
Colotl's case brings new attention to the 287(g) program, which allows undocumented residents to be deported after an arrest. Originally charged with driving without a license, she was arrested again when it was discovered she had given to officers an address from which she had moved a few months before rather than her current address. As a result, she could be deported rather than finishing college in a couple of semesters.
The 287(g) program generates the same sort of passionate political rhetoric as does the issue of abortion. Some endorse the idea, some hate it, and few opinions are ever changed on either side.
Georgia's latest foray into a new round of heated illegal immigration debates pales in comparison to the attention being focused on Arizona's new effort to address the issue. The state recently passed a law that allows police to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.
Arizona is a major pipeline for illegal migrants coming across the border from Mexico, and the state faces immigration-related issues that those living in other parts of the country can't even begin to imagine.
Again, some in the nation praise Arizona for its latest effort to crack down on a problem they see as a major threat to our national and economic security. Others see the effort as draconian, unconstitutional and potentially disastrous. In fact, many government, business and education officials across the county have called for boycotts of events scheduled to be held in Arizona in protest of the law.
But the sad, lamentable truth is the nation wouldn't be as divided as it is over illegal immigration if the federal government had done its job and addressed the issue with some degree of success at any time over the last 30 years.
Instead, we've had Band-Aid approaches and half measures at the national, state and local levels that have accomplished little more than further polarizing the populace.
There are two major battlegrounds on the immigration front: stopping the flood of illegal immigrants, primarily those from Mexico, and dealing with those illegal aliens who already reside in the country. In the latter group, there are those whose residence here has been short term, yet others like Colotl who have grown up here as children and consider the United States as home.
It does little good to address the issue of those living here until the unsecured border areas that allow new illegal residents to enter on a daily basis are closed down. To date, our leaders in Washington have failed miserably on that front.
Every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is up for election this year. In some states, including Georgia, Senate seats also are on the ballot. It would be nice to think there are candidates for national office willing to address the issue rather than dodge it.
As voters, it is incumbent upon us all to send that sort of leadership to Washington before the nation as we know it crumbles under the weight of a problem incumbent leaders have found too big to solve.