The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Fear-induced politics clouds immigration debate

itics, a Republican-led front has formed in opposition to a controversial new policy implemented by both Governor Eliot Spitzer and Commissioner David Swarts of the New York State DMV regarding illegal immigrants.

The policy provides all New Yorkers the opportunity to apply for a state driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status. That means that any illegal immigrant currently residing in the state can, in fact, legally be granted a license. It is a bold political move by the Democratic governor, especially when considering that the hostilities towards undocumented immigrants remain largely unresolved.

According to most estimates, the total population of illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States stands at around 8.5 million, although there is no precise way to be sure considering that most of them do not have official documentation.

The largest concentration of this population is located in southwestern United States. Major cities like Los Angeles have become a hot bed in the controversial issue.

The basic question that most Americans have had trouble answering over the last decade has been whether or not these illegal aliens, who represent a significant amount of our labor force, should be entitled to our basic rights and privileges. Those privileges are often taken for granted by we citizens.

A hearing regarding Governor Spitzer’s decision was held in Albany on Monday and Republicans seized the moment to play the Bin Laden card.

They argue that the policy allows licenses to fall into “the wrong hands,” thus leaving us all vulnerable to any potential terrorist threat.

It is an argument that many politicians have been contending for quite some time. Rudolph Giuliani, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, offered his solution to the problem earlier this spring: “You build a fence,” said Mr. Giuliani in a speech in Des Moines this past April. That would have to be a high tech, start-of -the-art fence, no doubt. You know, to keep out the terrorists and drug dealers.

Americans should take a hard look in the mirror. Have we become so xenophobic that we are actually considering building a huge fence to keep people out?

For a country that prides itself as a land of equal opportunity, we seem to be very reluctant to embrace the neighbors from our southern border. In a way, this hostility towards “illegals” is very hypocritical.

It only takes a basic lesson in American history to know that our country was obtained by means that were morally incorrect as well as legally questionable. It is interesting to wonder how Native Americans felt about the original wave of illegal aliens.

As for the threat of terror that can result in handing out licenses to the same people who pick up our garbage, clean our cars, cook our food, or generally do the jobs that we are too good to do ourselves: when will we learn that there is no effective way of preventing another terrorist attack?
Terrorists have no face. They all do not look like Osama bin Laden or pray to Allah. They can be from any nationality and from any faith. They can have any motive.

If we really want to do something productive, why don’t we be more careful of whom we give pilot licenses to instead of making it harder for our blue collars to get to work every morning?

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