I responded to Doug's comments/questions concerning my last post a while ago in person, but I figured I'd do it here as well in case anyone is still reading this and/or cares. Heh.
My response was two-fold: first and foremost, the goal of the post was to humanize the story of immigrants who are here with good intentions, who contribute to society, who do not merit (no one does) the term "illegal alien." I believe very strongly that one of the primary ways one gets beyond the "us vs. them" mentality that is such an obstacle to real dialogue and community-building is by getting to know the "them"--and then realizing that "they" are not very different from "us." It then becomes difficult to stereotype, ostracize, or hate on the "them"--because "they" have become real people. Case in point: I just went out for coffee with the farm manager I mentioned in the beginning of the post in question, and we spent half the time talking about our love for Manny Ramirez, and how both of us had coached U12 girls' soccer teams. We marveled at how similar our experiences had been--apparently soccer parents in Mississippi are just as high-strung as soccer parents in Massachusetts. And 11-yr-olds across the country hate running laps. Who knew?
Secondly, I think Doug's right--to a great extent, you can't legislate morality (outside of laws against things like murder, stealing, etc.). You can't make it a law to allow parents who just want their kids to have a better life to come to this country, and to keep out those who just want to milk the system. And even if you could, who would judge which immigrants have come here with "good intentions" and who are hard workers versus those who come here and abuse social services or commit violent crimes (I haven't met many such immigrants, but of course they exist)? So yes, the answer (at least in part) is to legislate economically--create more H2B temporary worker visas so that more immigrants who are already here doing dirty, dangerous, low-paying jobs that many Americans don't want to do can do so legally. Make it easier to extend or renew them. And (vitally important) create and enforce stronger oversight for employers, in order to prevent the immigrants holding the visas from being traded from company to company like so much cattle, housed 6 to an apartment, at the mercy of company dictates for everything from transportation to second jobs to cafeteria meals.
The short version, but there you have it. Legalize more temporary immigration, and oh, create more paths to residency and citizenship for those who have been paying into the system (taxes, social security) for years. Those SS $s especially are just sitting there in a separate SSA fund, never to be paid out to those who contributed them out of their hard-earned, low-wage paychecks.
Whatever happened to "Liberty and justice for all"?