Southern Views

Some of us get bent out of shape on the immigration question. Granted, the arrival of illegal immigrants in this country can cause problems. Yet at the same time, many Americans benefit by having these immigrants around, simply because others here won’t perform the jobs in some industries that immigrants will.

Want someone to do some yard work, or a specific skilled job? Pools of immigrant labor line up around the county, and are working every day in such manners.

But more than any other place in Georgia, the need for immigrant labor is greatest in one of the most conservative industries: farming. Immigrants are key and the literal backbone of gathering many Georgia’s crops.

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The immigrant question is not one limited to the United States. Germany, for years, has been concerned with vital contribution of imported workers from Turkey, who labor in jobs Germans disdain. Britain has its own problem with immigrants, often from its Commonwealth nations. Australia imports unskilled and skilled people from all over South Asia. Immigrant labor is a world-wide problem. The United States employs some 70,000 citizens from other nations in supporting our troops in Afghanistan, in jobs Americans won’t do.

Many maintain that immigrants should become American citizens. Such a step is not easy. You might look over the obstacles people from other nations must overcome before they can become U.S. citizens.

Generally, these are the citizenship requirements:

  • An applicant for naturalization must be admitted to the United States as a “lawful permanent resident.” Boiled down, this means they must have a “green card.”
  • They must have five years of continuous residence prior to applying. That doesn’t mean they must be physically present, although they must be in the USA for at least half of their permanent continuous residence.
  • Applicants must have an actual physical residence for the three months prior to seeking naturalization.
  • They must have the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English, unless disabled (blind, deaf or with developmental disability or mental impairment.) Those over 55 who have been legal permanent residents for at least 15 years are also exempt from this.
  • Applicant must have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. history and government.
  • Good moral character is required, plus having affinity for the principles of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Each applicant should be at least 18 years of age when filing.

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One consideration that jumps out at us is that some current citizens of the United States would have a hard time passing these requirements.

There are American graduates of high school who have learned little. Some are near illiterate. Others leave school before they really master reading and writing. We suspect that some of these people are registered to vote, though they know little about the fundamentals of government. That is troubling, having the vote, yet not having mastered education enough to cast an intelligent vote, yet whose vote has the same strength that you and I have. It sends chills down your back.

The immigration question surrounds not only the United States, but nations everywhere. So far as we know, no nation has produced a viable solution to immigration’s many thorny problems.

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Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.