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Immigration reform an insult to those who do it right

As I write this, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newest member of my family. My brother is getting married, and his fiancée is moving to the U.S., from South Africa.

Their story is a beautiful one. They met several years ago, while they were doing missionary work through the same organization. Her time with the group was done approximately a year before his was, which forced them to maintain contact through e-mails, letters and the all-too-infrequent phone call. They continued to keep in touch, and continued to fall deeper in love with each other, until he finally went to visit her earlier this year. By the time he came back, he was engaged.

At that point, the two of them began an emotional roller-coaster -- which has only recently come to an end -- otherwise known as the visa process. There were documents each of them had to obtain and send to various agencies. Then, they had to deal with a postal service strike in South Africa, and the uncertainty of whether those documents would get to where they needed to go. Lastly, there was the interview process my future sister-in-law had to endure, in order to prove her motives for moving here were legitimate.

Finally, late last month, we received word that everything had been approved, and she received her visa. My brother promptly scheduled a flight to pick her up, and the two of them will arrive here on the day this column appears in the newspaper. I cannot wait to meet her. I have been bouncing off the walls since I found out this blessed union was actually going to take place, with no further obstacles standing in the way.

Still, as thrilled as I am, I can't help being a bit frustrated as well. My brother and his wife-to-be have gone through all the proper channels in an effort to realize their dream of a life together, but how many people are there who completely bypass the law and enter the country illegally?

If that weren't bad enough, President Barack Obama said last month the solution to the large number of illegal immigrants, who do not have health benefits is to simply legalize them. There are a few things glaringly wrong with such a scenario, in my opinion. First, legalizing those individuals would amount to a reward for people who consciously break the law. Do not misunderstand me. I want people to experience the American dream, and everything which comes with it, regardless of where they come from originally. But those who circumvent the legal process in order to do so should not be given a free pass.

There's a second problem I have with the concept of legalizing illegal immigrants for health-care purposes. I believe doing so serves as a slap in the face to people like my future sister-in-law, who are going about their move to the U.S., in the right way. Instead of rewarding the efforts of those who are entering the country legally, many of the folks in Washington are working to make sure we are paying the doctor bills for those who aren't. America has long been regarded as the land of opportunity, and for good reason. We are able to enjoy freedoms that for many in the world are only dreams. But that sense of opportunity should not translate into a license to thumb one's nose at the law.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and the courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.