For once, Congress has been able to work together to create a bipartisan compromise that deals with America’s huge illegal immigration problem. One of the key components of the McCain-Kennedy bill would set 12 million illegal immigrants on the path to eventual citizenship. Overall, the proposal draws immense praise from both liberals and conservatives for including major components of both camp’s arguments. However, extremists on both ends contend that the bill is too much of a compromise, and neither side particularly feels satisfied with the option. Has no one taken a step back to look at the broader affects of this bill?

While it’s great to see Congress playing nice, it’s also perpetuating the inefficiency that Congress is known for. The media seems to be focusing on the fact that neither side is particularly thrilled about the bill. They are turning a blind eye to the real problems it could create if passed.

It isn’t clear to me when it was considered a good idea to reward illegal activity. “Illegal” should be an instant red flag for granting privileges and rights. Granting these 12 million immigrants citizenship would be rewarding the illegal behavior of these individuals, and would send the wrong message to our nation. Breaking the law is the same, regardless of the offense, and it would be wrong to give in simply because we want a quick fix. I’m all for immigrants doing what they can to become American citizens, but it’s unfair to simply grant them citizenship when so many others are working through the complicated legal system to gain permanent residency.

Morality aside, there would be massive nationwide consequences. These 12 million immigrants work primarily blue-collar jobs that earn a relatively small income. These jobs tend to be much more physically strenuous and dangerous, which results in far more trips to the doctor than other professions. We cannot expect these laborers to foot the bill for doctor visits on their own. Currently, 46 million Americans do not have healthcare themselves. Are we to assume that the workers of these low paying jobs will be able to afford insurance given their meager wages?

Without health insurance, these citizens would be forced to turn to government-funded healthcare. Medicaid, one of the largest social welfare programs funded by both state and federal governments, accounts for roughly a quarter of our state’s budget. This program is already strapped for cash, and the problem only seems to be getting worse. Introducing 12 million new citizens, many of whom would be forced to rely on this program, would bankrupt the program and leave even more Americans without sufficient health coverage. The tax revenue generated from these new workers could not possibly be expected to save our already troubled welfare system. The funds would be too small for such a high demand. This, in turn, would make the way of life for all Americans that much more difficult. Medical costs would continue to rise, and more Americans than ever would lack healthcare. The way of life for our nation as a whole would be seriously degraded.

While it may appear that granting citizenship to illegal immigrants is our best solution, in reality we are compromising America’s longstanding commitment to justice. It would be highly unfair to grant citizenship because we want the immigration issue over and done with. We need to consider the long-term effects of important decisions we make. We are setting ourselves up to potentially bankrupt our government’s resources and create a worse way of life for all Americans. Call me heartless, call me an asshole, but I’m proud and protective of the nation we have worked to build. Compromising it all now just doesn’t make sense.