- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 29, 2006

New legislation by the U.S. Congress against illegal immigrants is a positive and right move coming after years of debate from both sides. I think this legislation is the right move at the right time.

It has been a testing time for the people who wanted to opt for the legal channel to come to America, as the vacuum was already being filled by illegal immigrants. The nature and record of these illegal immigrants as violators of law also gave legal immigrants a bad name by engaging in a number of unlawful things to get their status legalized including fake marriages.

Besides breaking the law, these illegal immigrants were unskilled. They couldn’t have done any good back in their own country. But above all, the testimony of wrongdoing by illegal immigrants encouraged others to use the same means and thus further complicate matters.

At the same time, people like me who want to come to America and study were forced to review their plans because of the hurdles added to legal entry after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That tragedy resulted simply in an overreaction by U.S. authorities regarding peaceful, law-abiding foreign students who sought legal entry. These foreign students have been a backbone of the country in science and technology but obviously were affected the most and had to pay the price for the human carnage of September 11.

I, therefore, strongly suggest widening and encouraging the legal approach to entry because, a basic principle in life is that a “gradient” results in “flow.’ As there is a definite wealth gradient between the United States and other countries, there will be a “flow of immigrants.”

It’s now up to U.S. policymakers which channel to close and which to open, and thank heaven they have very wisely closed the illegal one. But have they really opened and encouraged the legal one?

MUHAMMAD SHAFIQ SIRAJ

Islamabad, Pakistan

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