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“Senators Unveil Immigration Proposal” – That was the headline that captured a lot of attention, and one very interesting way to kick-off the next four years of President Obama’s second term. What was noticeable about the announcement was that it was a bi-partisan announcement. They even had Hispanic Senators from both parties present and engaged in the discussion. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said that “reforming the U.S. immigration system to provide a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants is crucial to national security and keeping the economy strong.”

The Republican counterpart, Marco Rubio (R-FL), was also there to tout this new proposal as true reform. It may very well be – except that as in every aspect of politics, there are some who support the reform and others who oppose it. I would like to take a look at both sides of the discussion and approach it from a Hispanic’s perspective if I may.

For starters, I don’t really like any immigration reform that purports to reward the breaking of our laws under the guise of “fairness” or supposedly “making things right” for everyone. I am fairly certain that if I were to enter China illegally, and they found out I were there illegally, that there would likely be hell to pay. In fact, most countries – including the majority of those whom many U.S. “immigrants” used to call home – have tremendous disdain for anyone who would disrespect their laws. Why is it that we as American Citizens are asked to look the other way on the breaking of our immigration laws? And why should we so readily acquiesce? I think not.

I don’t begrudge anyone their desire for a better life or to go and seek better opportunities for themselves and their families; my family certainly did, but they did so within the legal confines of our immigration system. I remember growing up and being the kid in school who was always getting pushed back in line because the bigger bullies were always taking cuts. Well, that eventually stopped when I finally realized that I could be just as big and tough, and I stood up to them. Well, now we have people who would love nothing more than to take cuts, however, the immigration reform being proposed won’t necessarily allow that, which to me is a good thing.

The next cause and effect I’d like to address is that of the entitlement mentality that is prevalent among my fellow Hispanics. I’m not shying away from this topic, and neither should anyone else who wants to be honest and completely candid about it. The day after the immigration reform was announced, and the requirements to be eligible were made public, a swift and vocal opposition was made by other Hispanics – so-called “representatives” of those who “can’t speak for themselves” in this “oppressive” country – and they said simply, “why should there be taxes to pay and fines? And why should these people who’ve been here for years be sent to the back of the line to wait perhaps for another 15 years? This is not fair!”

When I hear statements like that, it makes me truly worry about what people believe is right vs. wrong. If anyone that wants to come to the U.S. legally goes through the normal immigration process, they know it takes time. The people who have been living in this country for more than 10 years, not paying taxes (at least not under their own names), some have purchased homes, others drive nice vehicles – yet, if they had taken the necessary steps to apply for citizenship properly, they might already be U.S. citizens by now – or very close to it. Now, I understand that not everyone who has come to the U.S. has been able to make such a great living. In fact, there are those who have been victimized and abused, but again this is as a consequence of NOT following our immigration rules.

The people who struggle and feel they have to “hide” and live in the shadows is because THEY have chosen to come to this country illegally and live they way they do. What most bothers me about some of the people who complain about the U.S. immigration policies is they they themselves don’t practice what they preach. In Mexico, their southern border with Guatemala is the most dangerous crossing any Central American immigrant can make. There’s not only the normal fear of being captured, but also the dangers of the bandits and thugs, and the uniformed police or soldiers always on the prowl for bribe money. Mexico is very strict with those who would dare attempt to cross its Southern border heading north into Mexico, yet it complains about the U.S. border policies.

I won’t sit here and preach to anyone, but I will say this: coming to this country illegally  living here for years without properly paying your fair share of taxes, and then complaining about a chance at proper immigration because there are fees and penalties to pay – and a waiting period – will NOT garner any support nor any sympathy from me and any Hispanic or non-Hispanic individuals or groups who consider themselves true Americans and who happen to believe in a real sense of fair play. America is a great country, and a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. We must remember, though, that nothing good in life comes easy – and certainly nothing as great as America.

Thank you for reading – Ed Martinez, Regular Guy.