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Sunday, March 19, 2006

TO FIX A LEAK

My Grandfather, wise man that he was, once told me: “Tommy, lad, neither common sense nor common courtesy are common”. I had an opportunity recently to test my level of common sense.

I was putting up some pegboard around my workbench in the basement. I thought I had marked everything properly, and followed the “measure twice and cut once” rule. However, I failed to note a small cold water feeder pipe next to one of the studs to which I was affixing the pegboard. Sure enough, I put a nail through the pipe, resulting in a steady stream of water spraying out across the workbench, and rapidly creating an indoor pool in my basement. Fortunately, I was alone in the house, so my long suffering wife did not witness my latest do-it-yourself faux pax. Unfortunately, I was alone in the house, so I had to deal with the entire situation myself.

Enter common sense. I suppose I could have grabbed a sponge mop, and begun cleaning up the water which was fast approaching the stacked boxes of Christmas decorations. Even better, the wet-dry shop vac could handle the water faster than the mop. But in this moment of crisis, common sense kicked in. The first thing I had to do, I quickly realized, was shut off the water. Even in my embarrassment induced trauma, I understood that cleaning up the puddles was an activity that should follow only after controlling the influx of water. It would accomplish nothing if I allowed the water to continue its flow unabated while dealing with a continuously growing pool. And so, I turned off the water main, sleeved the leaking pipe, and then cleaned up the now stabilized flood.

I mention this story, not to add to my already damaged home improvement reputation, but to talk a bit about immigration. Or, more specifically, the influx of illegal immigrants.

I hear a lot of talk among our Washington representatives about how to deal with the issue of massive numbers of immigrants in this country illegally. I wish I were as smart as the politicians, and all of the talking heads and pundits who opine almost daily on how to deal with the issue. As I understand it, there are between twelve and twenty million people in this country illegally. Another five hundred thousand to one million illegals enter our nation each year. I understand that the majority seek only employment, and a chance for a better life. I also understand that a segment is not here for legitimate purposes. Gang members, drug dealers, rapists and other violent types are among the people who regularly cross our borders without any serious effort at regulation or control. Even terrorists are suspected of being among the multitudes entering America surreptitiously. The illegal border crossings seem to be centered primarily on our southern border with Mexico, as our boundary with Canada is not yet producing this vast number of illegal entrants.

As of yet, no serious action has been taken by our government to control this situation. Neither Democrats nor Republicans, Representatives or Senators, can agree on a “comprehensive” plan for addressing this deteriorating situation. And while the bickering and posturing continue, no action of any consequence seems to be taking shape. May I humbly suggest that we apply my solution to the leaking pipe incident.

I have heard about all of the different aspects that must be dealt with. Guest worker programs, amnesty, earned citizenship, expanded immigration quotas and the untaxed underground economy are all, I am sure, issues that are of great consequence. However, should not the first step in this entire process be to turn off the water? Smarter people than I can deal with all of the complexities of our immigration policies, but it seems to me that we should deal with them one at a time, in a reasonable manner, and in the proper order. And the proper order would seem to be to cut off the flow of people entering America illegally as a first step. Not doing so simply makes the problem larger, and the solutions more difficult with each passing day.

It is not my intent to discuss the morality of our nation’s policies, or the necessity of having the expanded workforce that immigration can supply. Nor do I wish to demonize those who seek to enter America for legitimate purposes, legally when they can, and illegally when they feel they must. I am simply saying that America should be in control of those who enter this country, and due diligence must be exercised in determining the legitimacy of those seeking entry. The leak must be stopped if any other action is to have any meaning. And the leak must be stopped now.

As Granddad also said “Waiting to climb will not make the hill any smaller”.

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