KOKOMO – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    
When my ancestors, Scots Irish immigrants from Ulster, immigrated to America in the early part of the 18th Century, they were not greeted by Lady Liberty and her famous poem. The statue had not been erected nor the words of the poem written. However, they were welcomed by a vast land whose siren call around the world could be heard by all, “Come to America and be free!”
    
For centuries, the downtrodden and oppressed from around the world have made their way to our shores asking only one thing, an opportunity to work and live in freedom. The flow of immigrants to our country has enriched our character and forged a nation that has been stronger, more creative and more successful than the other, generally homogenous, countries of the world. What country would not be made stronger by a man who says, “I am going to take everything that I have and move my family to the United States where there is opportunity and freedom?”
    
Of course, for over 200 years, Americans have resisted welcoming new immigrants to their country. They’ve feared that the new arrivals would threaten the prosperity that they have come to know. Our nation, as great as it is, has resisted immigration by Irish Catholics, Polish, Germans, Italians, Jews and Chinese, to name just a few. We would have resisted immigration of black Africans if they had not been forced to come here for the economic benefit of the South. I don’t know if it is merely fear of change, fear of the unknown or a natural tendency to fear anyone who doesn’t look like us that has motivated Americans over history to fight immigration. America has become a club that after trying desperately to get in, we try desperately to keep everyone else out.
    
This brings me to our current immigration challenge. Let’s be honest about it. We don’t have an immigration problem; we have a Hispanic immigration problem. I hear no one complaining about those Canadians sneaking across the border and stealing American jobs. I hear no one complaining about all those Indian doctors providing medical care or engineering new electronics.  Oddly enough, I don’t even hear much complaining about the Chinese flooding our shores. In the United States, the immigration problem is Hispanic.
    
There is no denying that having between 11 million to 17 million undocumented illegal immigrants is a problem. There is also no denying that those illegal immigrants are here solely because they have been invited. No, we did not invite them with engraved invitations. We invited them with jobs that no other American wants to do, that they cannot find in their home country. We invited them with freedom that they do not have in their home country.  We invited them with opportunity that they will never have in their home country. We invited them with hope for their children’s future that they cannot have in their home country.  In short, the United States is an attractive nuisance. Let’s all thank God for that.
    
Just like past waves of people coming to our land, Hispanic immigrants have become political pawns. Democrats have seized on the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants, realized the potential heft of a future Hispanic vote and pandered to the hopes and dreams of these people.  Republicans have played the “protect our economy” card, much as it has been played for over 100 years in an effort to get votes from the fearful. The real political decision is not whether we will eventually grant citizenship to these illegal immigrants or not. We will. We simply will not be able to deal with such a huge number of people without a formal process.  
    
The issue is how we will get to citizenship.
    
The Democrats naturally favor the easiest and quickest way to get Hispanic immigrants citizenship and a voter’s registration card. They advocate a fast track to citizenship without any regard to the law of unintended consequences. Although many Democrats have generally viewed laws as mere guidelines and not hard and fast rules, they would do well to view the law of unintended consequences as immutable. If you give 17 million illegal immigrants legal status before establishing a reasonable path to citizenship and if you make 17 million illegal immigrants legal with the wave of a wand without controlling our borders, then you will replicate the problem in short order with ever-staggering numbers.
    
Many Republicans would like to see a wall erected on our southern border to keep the illegal immigrants out.  This would be an expensive and foolhardy venture. The Great Wall of China might just as well be called the Great Wall of Futility. Walls can be breeched in ways that render them ineffective.
    
If we are serious about stopping the flow of illegal immigrants to our country, there is only one way to do it.  We must control immigration at the employer level.  We must make the illegal employment of undocumented immigrants so cost prohibitive that no employer will chance it.  Turn the considerable talents of the Department of Labor and the IRS away from Tea Party groups and toward those who profit from inducing illegal immigration and the tide of immigration will significantly reduce.  Much like illegal narcotics, it is demand that controls the problem and not supply.
    
With inflows of new illegal immigrants curtailed, we may then turn our focus to bringing the millions of existing non-documented residents into our system legally and then our nation may, once again, profit from a people yearning to be free.  Freedom loving Americans should honor this shared dream of liberty.

Dunn is chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.