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Why do we have immigration laws?


It's really quite simple: they are designed to protect Americans and U.S. society from things that are seen at the time as dangerous or bad for us. While immigration to this country is, overall, a good thing, not all things about it are good. Immigration laws are designed to control those things that are not.


Since the mid-1960s, our immigration laws have been intended to protect us in four major areas. In no particular order, they are:

  • Public safety - Alien criminals may not enter the U.S. legally or remain here except in extraordinary circumstances. At one time, protecting public morals was seen as a public safety issue, so prostitutes, polygamists, sexual deviates and some others were not allowed to come here. The idea of public morality seems a quaint concept now, but once upon a time it was important to us.


  • Public health - For decades carriers of contagious diseases or those afflicted with physical or mental diseases affecting their ability to support themselves were not allowed to enter the U.S. To a large degree, most of those have fallen by the wayside in the actual application of the law, but they are still on the books.


  • Jobs - In one way or another, most people earn a living by selling their sweat to someone else who needs it. Sweat is like any other commodity; as it becomes more available it becomes cheaper, that is, wages go down when there's lots of it available. Immigration adds to the pool of sweat, so to keep immigration from depressing wages too much we have limited it to varying degrees over the years.


  • National Security - Foreigners who would harm the country cannot come here, but the definition of who that is changes with time. Once upon a time it was Communists and Nazis; now it's terrorists, for instance.


Our entire body of immigration law starts with this fundamental concept: no foreigner may come to the United States without our permission. The law then sets about defining who can get permission and under what circumstances. For instance, the law says that anyone coming to perform skilled or unskilled labor may not enter unless he has a certification . . . well, never mind. It all gets very complicated once you get into the "unlesses" that apply to every facet of immigration laws. But FYI, the term "work permit" is nowhere in the law, and neither is "guest worker."


Some people assume that our immigration laws are racist or biased in favor of certain nationalities. Not so now, although it was true for a long time. Orientals, for instance, were not allowed to immigrate to the U.S. and there were national quotas for immigration, with the quotas being weighted to give preference to northern Europeans, then later, to natives of the Western Hemisphere. That is no longer so; the last vestige of race or national origin in the law disappeared in 1965.


Just remember this: our immigration laws are not whimsical. They exist for a reason, and they adapt over time to new reasons, becoming more strict or less strict in any particular area as society's needs, desires, and perceptions change. For more than thirty years we have ignored the fact that there are good reasons for immigration laws and allowed illegal immigration on an unimaginable scale. We are now paying the price for that.



The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers' paramount mission is to contribute to the security and stability of the United States. To that end, we shall propose and be advocates for immigration laws and policies that we believe serve those national interests, and we will oppose those that do not.



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