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By Richard Land
The time has come for our nation to resolve its immigration crisis. It is imperative that we find an acceptable solution to the plight of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in our nation. Currently, the two extremes of deportation or amnesty are being played against each other, resulting in a stalemate in Congress and growing frustration and division in society.
The recent passage of the new law in Arizona is a cry for help from the citizens of a state made desperate by the federal government’s shameful and flagrant dereliction to its duty to control the nation’s borders and to enforce its laws. This is manifestly a federal responsibility and the U. S. government has failed in its responsibilities to its citizens under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The Arizona law is a symptom, not a solution. While I sympathize with the plight of the beleaguered citizens of Arizona, the law they have passed faces severe challenges. Attorneys I trust and respect tell me that if the law survives the manifold court challenges it faces and goes into effect, it will be abused by genuinely bad people (like drug dealers and human traffickers) whose unscrupulous lawyers will claim falsely that they were victims of racial profiling and prejudice when they were arrested legitimately.
Neither of the extreme solutions of deportation or amnesty are appropriate, workable solutions. To force those who are here illegally to leave is neither politically viable nor humanitarian. To offer “amnesty” to those who broke the immigration laws of our country is disrespectful of the rule of law. What is needed is a solution that respects the rule of law while at the same time treats undocumented immigrants compassionately.
As Christians, we must think through the question of illegal immigration not only as concerned citizens, but also as compassionate Christians. As citizens of the United States we have a right to expect the government to fulfill its divinely ordained mandate to punish those who break the law and to reward those who do not (Rom.13:1-7).
As citizens of the heavenly kingdom (the church), we also have a divine mandate to act redemptively and compassionately toward those in need. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39) and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matt. 7:12). Our Lord instructed His followers to meet the needs of those who are suffering (Matt. 25: 31-36). The writer of the Book of Hebrews instructed his readers to “show hospitality to strangers” (Heb. 13:2).
As U.S. citizens we have a right to expect the federal government to enforce the laws regarding who may cross our borders. Border security is a question of national security, domestic safety and tranquility, and the federal government fulfilling its divinely mandated responsibilities to enforce the law.
As people of faith we must lead our churches to engage in multi-faceted human needs ministries on a massive scale to meet the physical and spiritual needs of millions of men, women, and children living in the shadows of society where they are exploited by the unscrupulous and victimized by predators.
As citizens, we also have a responsibility to help our nation respond to the plight of these millions of people in a manner that respects their innate dignity and humanity. The millions of undocumented workers living among us suffer as outcasts without the full protections of the law or full access to the opportunities this nation offers to all to fulfill their God-given potential.
It is imperative that the U.S. Congress-consistent with national sovereignty and national security-expeditiously find a way to resolve this moral problem in ways that are consistent with our national ideals.
I favor a measure that includes controlling the borders and enforcing immigration laws inside the country first, while offering no amnesty for lawbreakers. This is my position and the position that emerges from any fair and objective reading of a resolution on immigration that Southern Baptists adopted at their annual convention in June, 2006.
The resolution calls on the federal government “to address seriously and swiftly the question of how to deal realistically with the immigration crisis in a way that will restore trust among the citizenry.”
It also stresses that it is the government’s obligation “to enforce all immigration laws, including the laws directed at employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants or who are unjustly paying these immigrants substandard wages or subjecting them to conditions that are contrary to the labor laws of our country.”
Proper reform should consist of a program that provides an earned pathway that requires an illegal immigrant who desires to remain legally in the U.S. to undergo a criminal background check, pay a fine, agree to pay back taxes, learn to speak, write, and read English and get in line behind those who are legally migrating into this country in order to apply for permanent residence after a probationary period of years. They must also acknowledge and pledge allegiance to America’s governmental structure, the duties of citizenship and our core values as embodied in the Declaration of Independence. People who fail background checks or who refuse to comply with this generous opportunity to earn legal status, should be deported immediately.
This is not amnesty. Amnesty is what President Carter gave the draft dodgers who came home from Canada with no penalties, no fines, and no requirements whatsoever.
It should be remembered that most of these undocumented workers who have broken the law (and thus should be penalized) came here in order to work whereas most of our home-grown criminals break the law in order to avoid work.
While the government focuses on enforcing the law, Christians are mandated to forgive and reflect God’s grace toward all people within their communities, including illegal immigrants. The recent SBC resolution encouraged “churches to act redemptively and reach out to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of all immigrants.”
As citizens of the Lord’s heavenly Kingdom, we have a divine mandate to respond compassionately toward those who are in need.
There is neither the political nor economic will in the U.S. population for forcibly rounding up 12 million people-many of them who have children who are American citizens-and shipping them back to their country of origin. Politics and public policy are the “art of the possible.” The reality is that it is not feasible for the United States government to attempt to deport 12 million people. There has to be another way to resolve this issue.
In hopes of providing a biblical solution to this matter, I have joined with other Evangelicals in calling for bipartisan immigration reform that:
• Respects the God-given dignity of every person;
• Protects the unity of the immediate family;
• Respects the rule of law;
• Guarantees secure national borders;
• Ensures fairness to taxpayers; and,
• Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.
The reality is that we have been, and are, a nation of immigrant settlers, and the descendents of such settlers, who braved oceans and many obstacles to come to this matchless land of opportunity to become Americans. Whether our ancestors came early, or late, we are Americans, whatever nationality may be used to describe our heritage before we arrived. We should, and we will, always have room in this great nation for those who are willing to embrace the American dream and the American ideals that both inspired that dream and define it.
MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government reported the results of recent studies on Tuesday showing that 68% of Mexicans who migrate or try to migrate to the United States do so without documents and 55% of them hire immigrant smugglers.
The report, timed to coincide with the U.N. International Migrants Day, also noted that the Mexican-born population living in the United States increased from about 800,000 in 1970 to more than 11 million in 2006.
The majority of Mexicans now living in the United States — 6.2 million — are undocumented, according to the report, which was based on surveys of migrants and information from the government’s National Population Council.
Almost 30 million people in the United are direct descendants of Mexico migrants, the report stated.
In contrast, the report said the immigrant population in Mexico is quite small and has not experienced rapid growth.
The number of foreign residents in Mexico grew from 340,000 people en 1990, or about 0.42% of the population at the time, to about 493,000 in 2000, or about 0.5%, the last year for which data is available.
More than two-thirds of the foreign residents are from the United States, and many of those are of Mexican extraction.
By Michelle Malkin
As you follow the debate over the Bush-Kennedy immigration bill, keep this cardinal rule in mind: 99.99% of the lawmakers who promise you that they’ll ensure the deportation of anyone who doesn’t follow their new “guest-worker” regulations are either A) lying or B) completely clueless.
Rule No. 2: Anyone who plays the Enforcement equals Kicking-Down-Doors-And-Depriving-Babies-of-Mother’s-Milk card (yes, that’s you, Geraldo Rivera) is either A) lying or B) completely clueless.
As I’ve reported many times over the last several years, the nation’s deportation abyss is governed by one reality: “It ain’t over ‘til the alien wins.” Immigration lawyers and ethnic activists run a massive, lucrative industry whose sole objective is to help illegal aliens and convicted criminal visa holders evade deportation for as long as possible. Entry into this country should be a privilege, not a right. The open borders lobby has turned that principle on its head.
Look no further than New York, where four convicted criminal aliens — a child molester, two killers and a racketeer — just won a federal lawsuit to remain in the country after all being ordered deported. The stunning decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Blake v. Carbone, came down on June 1 as the shamnesty debate was bubbling in Washington. The ruling, which hinges on convoluted due process arguments, will greatly expand the number of criminal aliens convicted of certain aggravated felonies who can now receive relief from deportation. This is happening despite the passage of two federal immigration reform laws in 1996 severely restricting deportation waivers for criminal aliens convicted of aggravated felonies.
The lead winning plaintiff, Leroy Blake, is a Jamaican national convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor in 1992. The feds began deportation proceedings in 1999. An immigration judge ruled Blake deportable in 2000. Blake took his case to the federal Board of Immigration Appeals, which remanded the case back to the immigration judge, who granted him relief from deportation. The then-INS appealed the judge’s ruling. In 2005, the Board of Immigration Appeals sided with the INS and ordered Blake removed from the U.S. Blake filed a motion to reconsider, then took his case to the Second Circuit.
The other plaintiffs who’ve successfully gamed the system include:
Aundre Singh, a native of Guyana, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1986. In 1997, the then-INS moved to deport him. In 1998, an immigration judge ordered him deported. In 1999, the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed Singh’s appeal. In 2003, Singh filed a motion to reconsider, which the appeals board denied. Singh filed for reconsideration of that ruling, which was denied in 2004. Singh tried again to appeal the board’s ruling in 2005 and was denied again before heading to the Second Circuit for relief.
Errol Foster, a Jamaican national, who killed a man with a pistol in 1990. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. He was released from prison in 2002. The feds began deportation proceedings while he was still in custody. An immigration judge ordered his removal in 2000, which Foster appealed. The Board of Immigration Appeals rejected his appeal in 2001. Four years later, Foster was still in the country — appealing the rejected appeal and filing three separate federal lawsuits before getting lucky with the Second Circuit.
And Ho Yoon Chong, a South Korean national, who was sentenced in 1995 for racketeering related to his participation in the “Korean Fuk Ching” crime ring. In 1998, the then-INS moved to deport him. In 2002, an immigration judge ordered him deported. In 2004, the Board of Immigration Appeals sided with the judge. Like his fellow criminal aliens, Chong didn’t give up, and now he’s won the immigration litigation lottery.
Immigration lawyers representing criminal aliens like these four menaces have gummed up the court system with 11 years of litigation over the 1996 laws banning deportation relief for felons. Meanwhile, when all else fails, deportable aliens can appeal directly to their member of Congress to circumvent immigration laws through special legislation. More than 50 bills have been introduced this year that would grant special, private relief to individual immigrants fighting deportation. Past and present beneficiaries have included smugglers, illegal aliens and a convicted murderer, Mohuiddin A.K.M. Ahmed, who is wanted in Bangladesh for engaging in terrorist activity and participating in a 1975 assassination plot that left the prime minister and dozens of his family members dead.
These individual bills are ripe for corruption. Indeed, the Abscam scandal in the 1970s involved payoffs for the sponsorship of exactly these kind of private immigration laws. Democrats and Republicans alike continue to sponsor these “private relief” bills seeking to sabotage deportation efforts. Every time a private relief bill passes, the number of available visas for that year is reduced by the number of illegal alien/deportable immigrant recipients granted legal status/deportation relief through the special legislation. The bills needn’t pass for the recipients to gain benefits. Mere introduction of the bills buys the deportable aliens time that ordinary, law-abiding citizens can’t buy in our court system.
Open-borders Democrats led by Ted Kennedy bleat about the lack of “due process” for downtrodden aliens, but immigration lawyers and their clients know the deal. Whether the Bush-Kennedy bill passes or not, it ain’t over ‘til the alien wins.
This is the real “silent amnesty” that no one in Washington will talk about. Go ahead. Ask them.
What would a day without illegal aliens really be like? Let’s try to imagine it.
On May 1, millions of illegal aliens working in meat-processing plants, construction, restaurants, hotels, and other “jobs Americans won’t do” are supposed to stay home from work to show the importance of their labor to our nation’s economy. Doubtless, there will be some inconvenience if that happens, but there is another side to the story that is not being reported.
We are talking about illegal aliens, not mere “immigrants.” If legal immigrants stopped working for a day, we would miss the services of physicians, nurses, computer programmers, writers, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs of all stripes, and some airline pilots…as well as the CEO of Google. That would be more than an inconvenience, but it won’t happen because legal immigrants are not out marching angrily for rights that are already protected by our courts.
But if illegal aliens all took the day off and were truly invisible for one day, there would be some plusses along with the mild inconveniences.
Hospital emergency rooms across the southwest would have about 20-percent fewer patients, and there would be 183,000 fewer people in Colorado without health insurance.
OBGYN wards in Denver would have 24-percent fewer deliveries and Los Angeles’s maternity-ward deliveries would drop by 40% and maternity billings to Medi-Cal would drop by 66%.
Youth gangs would see their membership drop by 50% in many states, and in Phoenix, child-molestation cases would drop by 34% and auto theft by 40%.
In Durango, Colorado, and the Four Corners area and the surrounding Indian reservations, the methamphetamine epidemic would slow for one day, as the 90% of that drug now being brought in from Mexico was held in Albuquerque and Farmington a few hours longer. According to the sheriff of La Plata County, Colorado, meth is now being brought in by ordinary illegal aliens as well as professional drug dealers.
If the “Day-Without-an-Immigrant Boycott” had been held a year earlier on May 8, 2005, and illegal alien Raul Garcia-Gomez had stayed home and did not work or go to a party that day, Denver police officer Donnie Young would still be alive and Garcia-Gomez would not be sitting in a Denver jail awaiting trial.
If the boycott had been held on July 1, 2004, Justin Goodman of Thornton, Colorado, would still be riding his motorcycle and Roberto Martinez-Ruiz would not be in prison for killing him and then fleeing the scene while driving on a suspended license.
If illegal aliens stayed home—in Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and 100 other countries—the Border Patrol would have 3,500 fewer apprehensions (of the 12,000 who try each day).
Colorado taxpayers would save almost $3,000,000 in one day if illegals do not access any public services, because illegal aliens cost the state over $1 billion annually according to the best estimates.
Colorado’s K-12 school classrooms would have 131,000 fewer students if illegal aliens and the children of illegals were to stay home, and Denver high schools’ dropout rate would once again approach the national norm.
Colorado’s jails and prisons would have 10-percent fewer inmates, and Denver and many other towns would not need to build so many new jails to accommodate the overcrowding.
Our highway patrol and county sheriffs would have about far fewer DUI arrests and there would be a dramatic decline in rollovers of vanloads of illegal aliens on I-70 and other highways.
On a Day Without an Illegal Immigrant, thousands of workers and small contractors in the construction industry across Colorado would have their jobs back, the jobs given to illegal workers because they work for lower wages and no benefits. (On the other hand, if labor unions continue signing up illegal workers, no one will be worrying about Joe Six-Pack’s loss. Sorry, Joe, but you forgot to tell your union business agent that your job is as important as his is.)
If it fell on a Sunday, Catholic Churches in the southwestern states might have 20-percent fewer parishioners at Mass if all illegals stayed home, but they would be back next Sunday, so the bishop’s job is not in danger. The religious leaders who send people to the marches and rallies will never fear for their jobs, because illegal aliens need their special “human-rights” advocacy and some priests and nuns seem especially devoted to that cause. The fact that most Catholics disagree with the bishops’ radicalism doesn’t seem to affect their dedication to undermining the rule of law.
All of this might be a passing colorful episode in the heated national debate over immigration policy if it weren’t for an odd coincidence: The immigration-enforcement agency responsible for locating and deporting illegal aliens is also taking the day off today. Of course, they didn’t call it a boycott. It is just (non)business as usual.
—Tom Tancredo is a Republican congressman from Colorado.
Based on a one-year in-depth study, a researcher estimates there are about 240,000 illegal immigrant sex offenders in the United States who have had an average of four victims each.
Deborah Schurman-Kauflin of the Violent Crimes Institute in Atlanta analyzed 1,500 cases from January 1999 through April 2006 that included serial rapes, serial murders, sexual homicides and child molestation committed by illegal immigrants.
She found that while the offenders were located in 36 states, most were in states with the highest numbers of illegal immigrants. California had the most offenders, followed by Texas, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Florida.
Schurman-Kauflin concluded that, based on a figure of 12 million illegal immigrants and the fact that more of this population is male than average, sex offenders among illegals make up a higher percentage than offenders in the general population.
She arrives at the figure of 240,000 offenders – a conservative estimate, she says – through public records showing about 2% of illegals apprehended are sex offenders.
“This translates to 93 sex offenders and 12 serial sexual offenders coming across U.S. borders illegally per day,” she says.
She points out the 1,500 offenders in her study had a total of 5,999 victims, and each sex offender averaged four victims.
“This places the estimate for victimization numbers around 960,000 for the 88 months examined in this study,” she declares.
Schurman-Kauflin breaks down the 1,500 cases reviewed this way:
* 525, or 35%, were child molestations
* 358, or 24%, were rapes
* 617, or 41%, were sexual homicides and serial murders
Of the child molestations, 47% of the victims were Hispanic, 36% Caucasian, 8% Asian, 6% African American and 3% other nationalities.
In 82% of the cases, she noted, the victims were known to their attackers.
“In those instances, the illegal immigrants typically gained access to the victims after having worked as a day laborer at or near the victims’ homes,” she says. “Victims ranged in age from 1 year old to 13 years old, with the average age being 6.”
In her examination of the sex-related homicides, Schurman-Kauflin found the most common method was for an offender to break into a residence and ambush his victims.
Not only were victims raped, she said, but some – 6% – were mutilated.
“The crime scenes were very bloody, expressing intense, angry perpetrator personalities,” she said. “Specifically, most victims were blitzed, rendered incapable of fighting back, and then raped and murdered. The most common method of killing was bludgeoning, followed by stabbing.”
She found it especially disturbing that in 22% of all sex crimes committed by illegal immigrants, victims with physical and mental disabilities were targeted.
The highest number of sex offenders, according to the study, came from Mexico. El Salvador was the original home to the next highest number. Other countries of origin included Brazil, China, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Vietnam.
Nearly 63% of the offenders had been deported on another offense prior to the sex crime, the study showed. There was an average of three years of committing crimes such as DUI, assault or drug related offenses prior to being apprehended for a sexual offense.
In 81% of cases, offenders were drinking or using drugs prior to offending. Rapists and killers were more likely to use alcohol and drugs consistently than child molesters.
Only about 25% of offenders were found to have been stable within a community. In 31% of the crimes, the offenders entered into the communities where they offended within two months of the commission of their sex offenses.
But many, 79%, had been in the U.S. for more than one year before being arrested for a sex crime. They typically were known to the criminal justice system for prior, less serious offenses before they molested, raped or murdered, the study said.
Schurman-Kauflin concludes illegal immigrants gradually commit worse crimes and are continually released back into society or deported.
“Those who were deported simply returned illegally again,” she says.
She points out that only 2% of the offenders in her study had no history of criminal behavior, beyond crossing the border illegally.
“There is a clear pattern of criminal escalation,” she said.
President Bush accuses those of us who want to secure America’s borders and fully enforce our immigration laws of lacking “compassion.”
Huh. Well, I have yet to hear an ounce of compassion from President Bush for America’s countless casualties of lax immigration enforcement. Where’s the sympathy for innocent, law-abiding citizens who have lost their lives at the hands of illegal aliens and their open-borders enablers?
Nope, we haven’t heard a word about the victims as the White House pours on its unadulterated pro-illegal alien rhetoric and “undocumented workers do the jobs Americans won’t do” propaganda – all in support of a massive, ill-timed, bureaucratic nightmare-inducing amnesty plan that will inevitably increase illegal immigration.
Last week, a notorious illegal alien serial killer who traipsed freely across the U.S.-Mexican border during a 25-year, escalating crime spree popped up in the news again. The case of Angel Resendiz, a convicted death row murderer in President Bush’s home state of Texas, is a timely reminder of the deadly costs of our continued homeland security chaos.
Time and again, illegal alien day laborer Resendiz broke the law getting into our country; broke more laws while in the country; and then broke the law repeatedly and brazenly after being released, deported and allowed to return. His most brutal acts included the slayings of 12 people, ranging in age from 16 to 81, which ended in 1999 when Resendiz surrendered to a Texas Ranger in El Paso. For the last seven years, Resendiz has been perched comfortably on Death Row – eating chocolate cream pies, watching Spanish-language television, whining about depression and selling locks of his hair on Internet auction sites.
His execution, scheduled for May 10, has been delayed pending yet another of his endless appeals claiming to be “insane.”
As I recounted in my book “Invasion,” Resendiz entered and exited our country at will. From the time he was 14, he racked up arrests and convictions ranging from trespassing, destruction of property, burglary, aggravated battery and grand theft auto to carrying a loaded firearm and false representation of U.S. citizenship. He had at least 25 encounters with U.S. law enforcement between August 1976 and August 1996, when he was arrested and released for trespassing in a Kentucky rail yard.
During that period, he was convicted at least nine times on several serious felony charges. He was deported to Mexico by the feds at least three times and was “voluntarily returned” to Mexico at least four times without formal proceedings. Throughout 1998, the Border Patrol continued its blind catch-and-release policy – apprehending Resendiz seven times and letting him go on his own recognizance despite his massive criminal record and three prior deportations. Shoddy fingerprint databases, immigration paperwork negligence and unpoliced borders led to:
* The bludgeoning death of Florida teenager Jesse Howell and the rape and strangulation murder of his fiance, Wendy Von Huben.
* The bludgeoning death of University of Kentucky student Christopher Maier and the rape and near-murder of his girlfriend, who survived the attack.
* The murder of Leafie Mason, an elderly Texas woman whom Resendiz hammered to death with a fire iron.
* The rape, stabbing and bludgeoning death of Baylor College of Medicine researcher Claudia Benton.
* The sledgehammer bludgeonings of Texas pastor Norman Sirnic and his wife, Karen.
* The bludgeoning death of Houston teacher Noemi Dominguez.
* The murder of elderly Texas widow Josephine Konvicka, who was killed with a grubbing hoe.
* The murders of George Morber, shot in the head, and Carolyn Frederick, clubbed to death.
The last four of Resendiz’s victims were murdered after Resendiz had been released by federal immigration officials – even though there were already warrants outstanding for his arrest.
Resendiz made a bloody mockery of our homeland security chaos. Congress and the White House are now preparing to add grave insult to fatal injury by refusing to fix the persistent problems that facilitated Resendiz’s crimes.
Campaigning for amnesty this week, President Bush mouthed the open-borders mantra against tough deportation policies and lectured immigration enforcement advocates about their lack of sensitivity.
“I can understand it’s emotional,” he said, but “we’re talking about human beings, decent human beings that need to be treated with respect.”
I don’t think the victims of “undocumented worker” Angel Resendiz would agree.
by Thomas Sowell
Activists who are organizing mass marches and demonstrations in cities across America may well be congratulating themselves on the huge numbers of people they can get to turn out to protest efforts in Congress to reduce illegal immigration.
No doubt that will impress many in the media and intimidate many politicians. But how these marches will be seen by millions of other Americans is another question entirely.
The Mexican flags and the strident assertions of a right to violate American laws are a danger signal to this society, as they would be to any society.
The releasing of children from schools to take part in these marches and the support of the marchers’ goals by some religious leaders demonstrate that this contempt for the laws of the land has spread well beyond immigrant communities.
For some, this is just another extension of their general anti-establishment attitudes and activities. They are ready to protest virtually anything at any time.
At the other end of the political spectrum are staid and sober representatives of business interests who simply want a continuing supply of cheap labor. They don’t march, they lobby politicians.
Both liberals and free-market libertarians often see this as an abstract issue about poor people being hindered from moving to jobs by an arbitrary border drawn across the southwest desert.
Intellectuals’ ability to think of people in the abstract is a dangerous talent in a world where people differ in all the ways that make them people. The cultures and surrounding circumstances of those people are crucial for understanding what they are likely to do and what the consequences are likely to be.
Some free-market advocates argue that the same principle which justifies free international trade in commodities should justify the free movement of people as well. But this ignores the fact that people have consequences that go far beyond the consequences of commodities.
Commodities are used up and vanish. People generate more people, who become a permanent and expanding part of the country’s population and electorate.
It is an irreversible process — and a potentially dangerous process, as Europeans have discovered with their “guest worker” programs that have brought in many Muslims who are fundamentally hostile to the culture and the people that welcomed them.
Unlike commodities, people in a welfare state have legal claims on other people’s tax dollars and expensive services in schools and hospitals, not to mention the high cost of imprisoning many of them who commit crimes.
Immigrants in past centuries came here to become Americans, not to remain foreigners, much less to proclaim the rights of their homelands to reclaim American soil, as some of the Mexican activist groups have done.
In the wars that this country fought, immigrant groups were among the most patriotic volunteers, earning the respect of American citizens on the battlefield with their blood and their lives.
Today, immigrant spokesmen promote grievances, not gratitude, much less patriotism. Moreover, many native-born Americans also promote a sense of separatism and grievance and, through “multi-culturalism,” strive to keep immigrants foreign and disaffected.
This is not to say that all or most of the illegal immigrants themselves share this anti-establishment or anti-American bias of many of their spokesmen or supporters. Most are probably here to make a buck and have little time for ideology.
Hispanic activists themselves recognize that many of the immigrants from Mexico — legal or illegal — would assimilate into American society in the absence of these activists’ efforts to keep them a separate constituency. But these efforts are widespread and unrelenting, a fact that cannot be ignored.
Whatever is said or done in the immigration debate, no one should insult the American people’s intelligence by talking or acting as if this is a question about the movement of abstract people across an abstract line.
What is likely to be done? A pretense of reducing illegal immigration and a reality of amnesty under some other name.
A core element of the American creed has always been a belief in the dignity of labor — at least until now. Supporters of a guest-worker program for Mexican laborers say that “there are jobs that no Americans will do.” This is an argument that is a step away from suggesting that there are jobs that Americans shouldn’t do.
President George Bush, a strong supporter of the guest-worker program, has long said that “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.” We are supposed to believe, however, that the work ethic does stop there — it is only south of it that people can be found who are willing to work in construction, landscaping and agricultural jobs. So, without importing those people into our labor market, these jobs would go unfilled, disrupting the economy (and creating an epidemic of unkempt lawns in Southern California).
This is sheer nonsense. According to a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, illegals make up 24% of workers in agriculture, 17% in cleaning, 14% in construction, and 12% in food production. So 86% of construction workers, for instance, are either legal immigrants or Americans, despite the fact that this is one of the alleged categories of untouchable jobs.
Oddly, the people who warn that without millions of cheap, unskilled Mexican laborers, this country would face economic disaster are pro-business libertarians. They believe in the power of the market to handle anything — except a slightly tighter labor market for unskilled workers. But the free market would inevitably adjust, with higher wages or technological innovation.
Take agriculture. Phillip Martin, an economist at the University of California, Davis, has demolished the argument that a crackdown on illegals would ruin it, or be a hardship to consumers. Most farming — livestock, grains, etc. — doesn’t heavily rely on hired workers. Only about 20% of the farm sector does, chiefly those areas involving fresh fruit and vegetables.
The average “consumer unit” in the U.S. spends $7 a week on fresh fruit and vegetables, less than is spent on alcohol, according to Martin. On a $1 head of lettuce, the farm worker gets about 6 or 7 cents, roughly 1/15th of the retail price. Even a big run-up in the cost of labor can’t hit the consumer very hard.
Martin recalls that the end of the bracero guest-worker program in the mid-1960s caused a one-year 40% wage increase for the United Farm Workers Union. A similar wage increase for legal farm workers today would work out to about a 10-dollar-a-year increase in the average family’s bill for fruit and vegetables. Another thing happened with the end of the bracero program: The processed-tomato industry, which was heavily dependent on guest workers and was supposed to be devastated by their absence, learned how to mechanize and became more productive.
So the market will manage with fewer illegal aliens. In agriculture, Martin speculates that will mean technological innovation in some sectors (peaches), and perhaps a shifting to production abroad in others (strawberries). There is indeed a niche for low-skill labor in America. The question is simply whether it should be filled by illegal or temporary Mexicans workers, or instead by legal immigrants and Americans, who can command slightly higher wages. The guest-worker lobby prefers the former option.
If this debate is presented clearly, there is little doubt what most conservatives — and the public — would prefer. In his second term, President Bush has become a master of the reverse-wedge issue — hot-button issues that divide his political base and get it to feast on itself with charges of sexism, xenophobia and racism. The first was Harriet Miers; then there was the Dubai ports deal; and now comes his guest-worker proposal, making for a trifecta of political self-immolation.
There is still time for Bush to make an escape from this latest budding political disaster, but it has to begin with the affirmation that there are no jobs Americans won’t do.
— Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.
WASHINGTON — The number of illegal immigrants in the United States has grown to as many as 12 million, and they now account for about one in every 20workers, a new estimate says.
Efforts to curb illegal immigration have not slowed the pace, says a report released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Instead, the report’s author said, those efforts are having an unintended consequence: People who illegally enter the United States from Mexico are staying longer because it is harder to move back and forth across the border.
“The security has done more to keep people from going back to Mexico than it has to keep them from coming in,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior research associate at the center.
The report says 24% of the agricultural workers in the United States are illegal immigrants. It did not have breakdowns by state or region.
Dave Kranz, a spokesman for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said past estimates of the state’s illegal workforce have varied widely.
“Farmers are hiring people with documentation, and unfortunately, that documentation turns out to be inaccurate or incorrect,” he said.
Marc Grossman, a spokesman for the United Farm Workers, said California’s proportion of illegal agricultural workers is far higher than the 24% national figure in the Pew report.
“It’s well over triple that in California,” he said.
Grossman said the numbers matter because some federal lawmakers want to deport all illegal workers. “Agriculture as we know it would collapse,” he said.
The UFW and Farm Bureau are among several groups pushing an immigration reform bill that would grant temporary work permits for illegal immigrants now working in agriculture and put them on track for permanent U.S. residency.
“We want to be able to hire workers legally and work out a system that works for everybody,” Kranz said.
It is difficult to accurately measure the number of illegal immigrants in the United States, but most public agencies and private groups had settled on a figure of about 11 million.
The Pew Hispanic Center used census bureau data to estimate that the United States had 11.1 million illegal immigrants in March 2005. The center used monthly population estimates to project a current total of 11.5 million to 12 million.
The report estimates that 850,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in United States each year since 2000.
President Bush has called for a program that would grant temporary worker status to illegal immigrants already here. The House rejected the program and instead passed a border security bill last year that leaned toward lawmakers who were calling for a crackdown.
Senate sees need for workers
The Senate is trying to address border security and the temporary worker program, but consensus has been elusive. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has said he hopes his panel will produce a bill by the end of March.
There are about 7.2 million undocumented workers in the United States, or about 5% of the country’s work force, the Pew report says.
It estimated that illegal immigrants fill a quarter of all agricultural jobs, 17% of office and house cleaning positions, 14percent of construction jobs and 12% of food preparation posts.
“Especially if we look at the Mexicans, these are people with fairly low levels of formal education,” Passel said. “They’re not able to get licensing or credentials in the United States because of their status, so the kinds of jobs available to them in the United States are somewhat limited.”
Business leaders and advocates for immigrants’ rights argue that America’s economy would collapse if all the illegal workers were deported.
“Undocumented immigrants do pay taxes, and they do contribute to the economic, social and cultural developments of their communities,” said Peta Ikam-bana of the American Friends Service Committee. The group was organizing a rally near the Capitol on Tuesday to protest the House bill.
“Just building walls will not stop immigration,” Ikambana said. “Those that are here will just go underground.”
Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tougher border enforcement, said he isn’t surprised that the number of illegal immigrants continues to climb. He called the government’s crackdown half-hearted at best.
Camarota pointed to a recent government report showing that very few businesses are fined for hiring illegal immigrants. The government filed only three notices that it intended to fine companies in 2004, down from 417 notices in 1999, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
Camarota said there would be plenty of Americans willing to accept jobs done by illegal immigrants if they paid adequate wages and benefits.
Tuesday’s report by the Pew Hispanic Center said Mexicans make up 56% of illegal immigrants. An additional 22percent come from other Latin American countries, mainly in Central America.
About 13% are from Asia, and Europe and Canada combine for 6%.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans would favor the construction of a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, while three out of four say a politician’s stance on immigration will influence the way they vote in coming elections.
According to a new survey by Rasmussen Reports, 60% of those surveyed like the idea of a barrier along the U.S. Southwest border as a means of dramatically reducing illegal immigration from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.
The poll also found that 75% of Americans say the issue of immigration is “somewhat important” or “very important” in terms of how they plan to vote for president and members of Congress. That compares with just 21% who said a candidate’s stance on immigration was “not very important” or “not at all important” to them.
In addition, a plurality of those surveyed – 49% – said they favored legislation that would end a concept known as “birthright citizenship,” which is the automatic granting of U.S. citizenship to anyone born in the United States. Forty-one% were opposed to such legislation.
Birthright citizenship comes from U.S. courts’ repeated reliance on the opening sentence of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
Critics say the law is being abused by illegal aliens who break into the United States just to have children, who then automatically become U.S. citizens entitled to generous government-provided benefits.
They also say the amendment was never supposed to be interpreted as granting automatic citizenship to the offspring of illegal aliens. They say the authors of the Civil War-era amendment included the citizenship provision so newly freed black slaves would be legally considered citizens of the United States, whereas they were not before slavery was abolished.
They point to the words of Sen. Jacob Howard, co-author of the citizenship clause of the amendment, who declared in 1866: “Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”
Currently, some congressional Republicans are considering legislation that would end birthright citizenship and accompanying provisions calling for the construction of a border fence.
WND reported in October that, according to companies that build fences along U.S. highways to muffle traffic noise for nearby residents, a barrier along the entire 2,000-plus miles of U.S.-Mexican border would cost about $1.4 billion, or about half of what the Pentagon spends in Iraq a month.
A separate congressional estimate by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., for a two-tiered fence along the entire border was estimated at about $8 billion.
The Rasmussen telephone survey of 1,500 adults was conducted Nov. 4-6. The margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 4%age points with a 95% level of confidence. In all, 37% of survey respondents were Republican, 37% Democrat and 26% unaffiliated.
Government study over past 3 years reveals burden borne by taxpayers
The U.S. federal government spent $5.8 billion over the past three years to incarcerate criminal aliens – nonresidents who are in the country illegally or legally and convicted of a crime.
The report by the General Accounting Office – the investigative arm of Congress – shows the number of criminal aliens in federal prisons increased from about 42,000 at the end of 2001 to about 49,000 at the end of last year.
The direct federal costs during the study’s time frame were estimated to be $4.2 billion, with federal reimbursements to state and local governments totalling $1.6 billion through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, or SCAAP.
The majority of criminal aliens were identified as citizens of Mexico.
In addition, state prisons in fiscal 2003 housed about 74,000 criminal aliens. About 80% were in just five states — Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas.
Also, about 147,000 criminal aliens were jailed in 698 local jurisdictions that received SCAAP reimbursement in 2003.
About 30% of those criminals were in five municipal and country jails — Los Angeles County, California; New York City, New York; Orange County, California; Harris County, Texas; and Maricopa County, Arizona.
As WorldNetDaily reported, an analysis of census data earlier this year by the Federation for American Immigration Reform showed Texas’ illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers more than $4.7 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration.
The uncompensated cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Texas’ state and county prisons amounts to about $150 million a year — not including local jail detention costs or related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration.
Last year, the Center for Immigration Studies used Census Bureau data from 2002 to determine that the fiscal impact of illegal aliens across the nation was $10 billion. The figure was derived from subtracting taxes paid by illegals from the value of services they enjoy.
A Spanish-speaking academic friend tells me that the Spanish roots from which the name of my home state, California, is derived mean “hot as an oven.” This is quite apt these days. California is a seething cauldron on the issue of illegal immigration.
The Pew Hispanic Center in Washington reports that there are 10.3 million illegal immigrants in the United States today. More than half, 57%, are from Mexico. The largest concentration — 25% of the total — is in California.
Mexico and California together are like a sick pair of co-dependent marital partners.
One partner, Mexico, is a mismanaged and underperforming country, flipping off outsiders who dare to question how it runs its affairs, and then exporting its problems to the neighbor to the north. Liberal, loving and enabling California extends the hospitality of its expansive welfare state, assuring illegal immigrants health, education and housing, a life without English, and providing work opportunities at the margins of its expansive economy.
All pathologies reach critical mass and this one is about to explode. Reforms are essential.
The immigration business is so screwed up by government mismanagement on both sides of the border that it’s hard to decide how to come down, even if you want to take a principled stand for human liberty, as I do.
A good starting point is to take a lesson from the war on terror. We can’t solve the problem by just beefing up internal security and remaining indifferent to those nations that breed the problem. Similarly, we have to figure out how to handle the immigration problem domestically. But we also must do something to get our neighbor to the south to clean up its act.
The Pew Hispanic Center also released a new survey that included polling in Mexico as well as in the United States. When Mexican citizens were asked if they would move to the United States if they had the means and opportunity to do so, an incredible 46% of respondents said they would. Almost half of the Mexican population wants to leave! When asked if they would do it illegally, 21% of those polled responded affirmatively.
How many minutemen can we possibly put on our border?
My think-tank friends who follow Mexico uniformly express disappointment in President Vicente Fox. He came into office, they say, as a reformer promising 7% economic growth rates. Since 2000, Mexico barely has been exceeding average growth of more than 1% per year. On the widely followed Fraser Institute Index of Economic Freedom, Mexico ranks a sick 58 out of 120 countries.
Mexico announced last week that its unemployment rate, 3.6%, is one of the lowest in the industrialized world. Why is it so low? Mexico’s bureau of statistics explains that it’s because Mexico doesn’t pay unemployment benefits and because of worker migration.
From 2000 to 2004, 2.4 million Mexicans immigrated into the United States, 85% illegally.
Countries can change if they want to. China — yes, the former Red China of Chairman Mao — now loves capitalism and is growing at 9% per year. India is growing at 7% per year.
Our leaders in Washington and in Sacramento need to start talking turkey with the Mexicans. They have got to fix their country. The other side of the co-dependent equation, we Americans in general, and we Californians in particular, have to fix ourselves also.
We need to consider that our welfare state subsidizes and encourages illegal immigration and distorts social behavior in the fact that any illegal woman giving birth here produces a welfare-qualifying U.S. citizen. Fertility rates among Mexican immigrant women are 40% higher than among women in Mexico.
Free schools, free emergency health care, subsidized housing, government-mandated Spanish. We are creating a large and growing unassimilated and dysfunctional subculture within our borders for which we and the victims will pay an ever-increasing price. Check out the welfare-subsidized Muslim immigrant subculture in Europe for a hint of where this leads.
Guestworker programs? Maybe. But only if the welfare loopholes are closed.
Nearly one-third of families headed by illegal aliens have children who are U.S. citizens, according to a new study that also found that since the 1990s, more foreigners have entered the U.S. illegally than legally.
“The large number of U.S. citizen children born to parents with no legal status highlights one of the thorniest dilemmas in developing policies to deal with the unauthorized population,” said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, which produced the report based on the 2004 Current Population Survey, a project of the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As Congress and President Bush debate creating a guest-worker program for foreign workers, one key question is whether those workers could bring their families.
Mr. Bush has said he supports letting such workers bring their families, but others oppose that because it raises the possibility of so-called “anchor babies,” citizen children who are later allowed to petition for legal status for other family members.
The president has also called for a broad immigration plan that lets families remain together, which would make it almost impossible to deport illegal aliens who have children who are U.S. citizens.
Of 6.3 million illegal alien families in the United States in 2004, 59% had no children. Another 24% had only U.S. citizen children, 10% had children who were not U.S. citizens and another 7% had some children who were U.S. citizens and some who were not.
The Pew study shows a complex picture of illegal aliens, including that illegal alien men are more likely to be in the work force than U.S.-born men, while illegal alien women are substantially less likely to be working than U.S.-born women.
The study found that of the foreign-born population who came to the United States after 1995, more were illegal than legal as of 2004.
It also says that of the 10.3 million illegal aliens here in 2004, 5.9 million or 57% are Mexican, and another 2.5 million or 24% are from other Latin American countries.
The numbers appear to show that while the annual flow of illegal aliens has fallen slightly since 2000, the number of Mexicans crossing illegally appears to have increased. Of the Mexicans here illegally in 2004, 2.4 million, or 485,000 a year, came between 2000 and 2004. By comparison, the number was 400,000 per year who came between 1995 and 1999.
But the report’s author, demographer Jeffrey S. Passel, wrote that this doesn’t prove an increase in the annual illegal Mexican migration, because all the figures are a 2004 snapshot and thus would not include aliens who came here from 1995 to 1999 who have returned home or gained legal status.
Mr. Passel found that recent illegal aliens on average actually have a higher education level than those who have been in the United States for a decade or more.
But that was flipped for average family income, where illegal aliens in the United States for less than 10 years have an average family income of $25,700 and those who arrived more than 10 years ago average $29,900. Both lag far behind the average for native-born families, at $47,700, and even further behind legal immigrant families, which average $47,800.
Illegal aliens also make up a larger share of the labor force in jobs that don’t require credentialing, the report found: A quarter of the meat and poultry workers, dishwashers, and drywall and ceiling tile installers in the country are illegal aliens.
Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, said the occupation breakdown shows why there is not more pressure on elected officials to crack down on illegal migration.
“The people who are harmed by it are the least politically influential,” he said. “If journalists and lawyers faced the job competition janitors do, we’d be much more likely to do something about this.”
A growing body of research on how immigration affects the U.S. economy sends a clear message: Skilled immigrants are beneficial, unskilled immigrants are not.
Skilled immigrant workers help the economy when they take hard-to-fill jobs and don’t compete with native workers. Consequently, output and income rise to the benefit of all. More skilled workers help use capital resources more efficiently and pay more in taxes than they receive in public benefits.
In contrast, low-skill immigrants depress the employment and wages of native-born workers. They compete with native workers for housing and drive up rents and home prices. Part of the wages they earn, rather than being spent or saved here, are sent to their home countries. They pay less in taxes than they get in public benefits, with the difference paid for by others’ taxes. Many work in the underground economy and pay no taxes. Not least, a surfeit of cheap immigrant labor delays adoption of labor-saving technology, slowing productivity gains.
There are about 34 million immigrants in the United States, of which 10 million to 11 million are believed to be illegal (estimates vary). In recent years net immigration has run about a million a year, half legal and half illegal.
Latin American countries, mainly Mexico, account for more than half of all U.S. immigrants. Because of their relatively low earnings, low education level and large family size, a larger proportion of immigrants than native Americans live in poverty and depend on welfare. Immigrant workers perform various jobs and are employed in all major sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and services.
It is often contended that low-skilled immigrants work in jobs U.S. natives don’t want. That is doubtful. What American workers don’t want are low wages depressed by the easy availability of immigrant workers. Many native-born are available for work and would willingly accept low-skilled jobs at the higher wage that would be offered if there weren’t an excess supply of immigrants holding wages down.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, noted last year in congressional testimony there is a good deal of evidence millions of Americans without a high school education directly compete with immigrants, and the idea “that there are jobs Americans won’t do is simply false.”
It follows, if low-skilled immigration were restricted, more Americans would be offered jobs at better wages. Fringe benefits and working conditions also would improve. There would be less income inequality, and welfare costs and poverty would decline. Employers would seek to offset higher wage costs by investing in and employing new technologies, thereby increasing productivity, profitability and economic growth.
When the bracero program, which allowed Mexicans to work on U.S. farms, ended in the 1960s, wages and mechanization increased. Mr. Krikorian testified that a labor market tightened by restricted low-skilled immigration can spur modernization not only in agriculture but the service sector too.
Economist Ethan Lewis of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently completed a significant econometric study, “Immigration, Skill Mix, and the Choice of Technology” (May 2005). Using Census Bureau plant-level data, he examined the effect of low-skilled labor on technology adoption in U.S. manufacturing. The study concluded “plants in areas experiencing faster less-skilled relative labor supply growth adopted automation technology more slowly... and even de-adoption was not uncommon. ... The relative supply of less-skilled labor reduced demand for technology.” In his paper, the author cited other related studies.
The negative effect of low-skilled labor on technological development is particularly worrisome. Technology-induced productivity growth in many ways is our golden goose. It boosts our incomes, lowers prices, fights inflation, helps keep interest rates low, gives us greater leisure, and raises our standard of living. What hurts productivity hurts us all. All told, the economic costs of low-skilled immigration are too high.
Our immigration policy needs repair. Not only should existing immigration laws be more strictly enforced and our borders better controlled, but U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants should be stiffly fined. Immigrant admission rules should be revised to take into account a potential worker’s education, skill, work experience and health, as well as other work-related characteristics.
It’s time for policymakers to weigh the shortsighted special business interests that benefit from cheap immigrant labor against the greater potential economic benefits for all Americans from restricting low-skilled immigration.
Alfred Tella is former Georgetown University research professor of economics.
Several hundred “Minutemen” — American citizens — stationed themselves at the Arizona-Mexico border. They intend to monitor 23 miles of border, and alert Border Patrol agents when they spot someone entering the country illegally. This 20-plus mile border area is one of the highest traffic corridors for illegal border-crossings. Last year, more than 40% of the 1.15 million illegal aliens caught by Border Patrol were taken into custody in this southern Arizona region, known as the Tucson sector. Although President Bush called the Minutemen “vigilantes,” the administration reassigned several hundred Border Patrol agents to the area.
The Minuteman Project, co-founded by former schoolteacher Chris Simcox, claims it stopped some 4,000 people from entering the country. Simcox says that their presence caused the Mexican government — which calls the Minutemen “migrant hunters” — to place its military on Mexico’s side of the border. The Minutemen, the added Border Patrol and the heightened awareness all combined, according to Simcox, to “shut down” this part of the border.
Simcox says he intends to continue the project until the Bush administration puts sufficient manpower on the border. But Simcox agrees that most people attempting to enter the country illegally from Mexico do so for economic betterment, and he feels sympathy for someone leaving a poor country to seek a better life for their family. He agrees that we need some orderly system to match willing sellers of labor with willing suppliers. Simcox realizes what others refuse to acknowledge — there are jobs Americans simply will not take, and he supports some form of guest-worker program, as proposed by President Bush. But, he says, it cannot work without first securing the borders.
A few years ago, I interviewed a man who started an inner-city restaurant to provide jobs for the mostly black kids living in the area. He opened the restaurant, but soon found difficulty in attracting competent help. He put ads in the newspaper, and advised churches and many community organizations of the availability of work. Soon, he said he “resorted to hiring Hispanics” because he could not find reliable help at wages he could pay.
When I interviewed Chris Simcox on my radio program, an Oregon farmer called. He said, “Some of the people who are employing these so-called illegal immigrants get a real bad rap like . . . ‘you’re providing these people with jobs that other Americans should have and need.’ But I’m tellin’ ya, as a farmer . . . we don’t have any other alternatives than to bring those people in. . . . Why should an employer turn a deaf ear to people who are willing to come here and willing to work and do the job that no American will do?”
Simcox replied, “I agree. No one can deny that there are jobs in this country that are available, jobs other people won’t take. . . . We’re not talking about preventing people from coming to work. We’re talking about people entering the country illegally. We need to know who is coming into this country, where they’re going, and their intentions. If their intentions are to work, then, by all means, we should welcome them. My plan would be that we have a way to expedite workers coming in.”
Americans, our neighbors and friends, employ them. Nearly 11 million people, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, live illegally in America. Dealing with illegal immigration requires a combination — more Border Patrol agents, beefing up the INS, allowing local police to inquire about the immigration status of criminals they suspect were previously deported who have returned.
Experts differ on whether illegal immigration adds to or detracts from our economy when one considers all costs. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, U.S. households headed by illegal aliens used $26.3 billion in government services during 2002, but paid only $16 billion in taxes, an annual net cost to taxpayers of $10 billion.
But according to a CATO Institute Trade Policy Analysis on illegal migration, “Economists generally agree that immigration benefits the United States. . . . Immigration does lower the wages of the relatively small segment of the workforce that competes directly with immigrants, but those losses are exceeded by the higher return to owners of capital and the lower prices that all workers pay for the goods produced by immigrants. In one of the most comprehensive economic studies ever done on the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy, the National Research Council concluded in a 1997 report that immigration delivers a ‘significant positive gain’ of $1 billion to $10 billion a year to native Americans. The President’s Council of Economic Advisers, in its February 2002 Economic Report . . . estimated that immigrants raise the income of Americans by $1 billion to $14 billion a year. Those sums may seem trivial in a $10 trillion economy, but the gains from immigration are positive and real and recur year after year.”
In either case, national security requires us to do a better job of tracking those who enter the country. But let us acknowledge that there are jobs Americans will not do.
Social Security used to be called the third rail of politics but illegal immigration is the real third rail that both political parties are afraid to touch.
Cops who find illegal aliens are under orders not to turn them in to the feds. And the federal government’s own border guards have their hands tied by the higher-ups as well.
Now that Hispanics are the largest minority in the country, and with the country closely divided politically, neither party wants to risk alienating the Hispanic vote by enforcing immigration laws.
Many other Americans may be outraged at the way illegal aliens are handled with kid gloves — and, in some places, even given rights normally reserved for citizens — but so long as this outrage is directed at both parties, neither party wants to be the one to risk losing the Hispanic vote.
America’s weakness in controlling its borders has only promoted contempt for the United States on the part of the Mexican government, which publishes instructions to help people illegally get into this country and offers helpful hints on how to take advantage of American welfare state benefits.
When some Americans living near the border in Arizona organized themselves to watch that border and report on people crossing it illegally, the media immediately demonized them as “vigilantes,” even though these observers used no violence and inflicted no punishment.
When California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he would welcome such observers on California’s borders, there was another media outcry against him.
There is a reason why illegal immigration is the third rail of politics. Not only is there a fear of losing the Hispanic vote, there is a fear of being demonized in the media and therefore losing other votes as well.
Among the intelligentsia, there have long been those who think of themselves as citizens of the world, and who think of national borders as just arbitrary lines drawn on a map. In addition to those with these liberal attitudes, there are some conservatives who think that we need workers from Mexico to do work that Americans will not do.
Virtually every job in the country is work that Americans will not do, if the pay is below a certain level. And the pay will not rise to that level so long as illegal immigrants — “undocumented workers” — are available to work for less.
Even those who write editorials about how we need Mexicans to do work that Americans will not do would not be willing to write editorials for a fraction of what they are being paid. If Mexican editorial writers were coming across the border illegally and taking their jobs, maybe the issue would become clearer.
You cannot discuss jobs without discussing pay, if you are serious. And, if you are really serious, you need to discuss all the welfare state benefits available to Americans who won’t work.
You might also want to consider the attitudes being promoted by the intelligentsia and the activists that people should do only “meaningful work” and not accept “chump change” but should insist on some arbitrarily defined “living wage,” even if that is more than their labor is worth.
When you say that Americans have a “right” to have their “basic needs” met, you are saying that when some people refuse to supply themselves with food and shelter, other Americans should be forced to supply it for them.
If you subsidize workers when they won’t work and subsidize employers by making illegal aliens available to them, then under those particular conditions it may well be true that illegal immigrants are taking jobs that Americans won’t do. But such statements conceal more than they reveal.
Hard-working immigrants may indeed be a godsend, not only to farmers and other employers, but also to families looking for someone to take care of children or an aged or ill member of the family. But Americans worked as farm laborers and as maids before there were “undocumented workers” to turn these chores over to.
If it has been done before, it can be done again. All that prevents it is the welfare state and the attitudes it spawns.
PHOENIX — This is part two of a five-part series looking at how illegal immigration affects U.S. border security, the criminal, health care and education systems, as well as the economy. Watch the series this week on FOX News Channel.
Many police officials in states along the U.S.-Mexican border say they are fed up with the number of illegal aliens populating American prisons, many of them incarcerated for violent crimes such as murder, rape and robbery.
Almost one in six inmates in Arizona, for example, is a Mexican citizen.
“It is a phenomenon that law enforcement recognizes as a major problem,” said one undercover detective, who specializes in street gangs and goes by the name “Paco.”
“We have to put drug users and violators in there, babysit them, and now we have to babysit illegal aliens,” said Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose jails are 4,500 inmates over capacity.
Most Mexicans cross the border looking for work, but competition is fierce for jobs requiring uneducated, unskilled labor. Many illegal immigrants find themselves far from realizing their dreams.
“We come over here to find a better life,” said inmate Tony Perez, a convicted drug dealer. “Not all of us are here to sell drugs or to do bad things, despite a few that do. But then again, doesn’t everybody else from every other country?”
Arpaio’s Phoenix jails house 1,200 criminal aliens, including Perez, who by law should have been deported. But because of federal bureaucracy and an overburdened system, only the most dangerous felons are actually sent home.
Even when deportation is ordered, about 60% of orders are ignored.
Christian Higuera, who is serving time for assault, has fathered an illegitimate child, born in Arizona. He said he hopes he will be allowed to stay with his child, an American citizen, once he gets out of jail.
The borders are so porous that many deported criminals simply come back into the United States, often to commit more crimes.
“If somebody has a proclivity for criminal activity already established, they will continue in that vein,” said Paco.
In Los Angeles, 95% of all outstanding homicide warrants and 60% of outstanding felony warrants are for illegal aliens.
American taxpayers are paying for the crimes of the 8,000 convicted aliens not yet caught and the incarceration costs of those who have been.
That adds up to more than $1 billion a year — in just the states that border Mexico.
WASHINGTON — The nation’s undocumented immigrant population surged to 10.3 million last year, spurred largely since 2000 by the arrivals of unauthorized Mexicans in the United States, a report being released Monday says.
The population of undocumented residents in the United States increased by about 23% from 8.4 million in the four-year period ending last March, according to the analysis of government data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a private research group.
That equates to a net increase of roughly 485,000 per year between 2000 and 2004. The estimate was derived by subtracting the number of unauthorized immigrants who leave the United States, die or acquire legal status from the number of new undocumented immigrants that arrive each year.
The prospect of better job opportunities in the United States than in their native countries remains a powerful lure for many immigrants, said Pew center director Roberto Suro, pointing to a reason often cited by other researchers.
“The border has been the focus of federal efforts (to cut illegal entry) and has not produced a reduction in flow. Certainly that’s an indication of ongoing demand,” he said.
The population is growing at a similar pace as in the late 1990s even though the U.S. economy today isn’t as robust, Suro said.
Assuming the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country hasn’t abated since March 2004, the population is likely near 11 million now.
The report considered “undocumented” immigrants primarily as those here illegally; those in the United States on expired visas; or those who violated the terms of their admission in other ways.
Also included are a small percentage of immigrants who may have legal authorization to be in the United States, including those with temporary protected status and those applying to seek asylum.
Mexicans by far remain the largest group of undocumented migrants at 5.9 million, or about 57% of the March 2004 estimate. Some 2.5 million others, or 24%, are from other Latin American countries.
Overall, the U.S. foreign-born population, regardless of legal status, was 35.7 million last year. Those of Mexican descent again comprised the largest group — more than 11 million, or 32%.
Controlling the flow of immigrants over the porous U.S.-Mexico border will be a central topic of discussion when Mexican President Vicente Fox meets with President Bush in Texas on Wednesday.
The number of U.S. residents with Mexican backgrounds has increased by nearly 600,000 annually since 2000, with more than 80% of the new arrivals here with proper documentation, the Pew center estimated.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other government officials have raised concerns about border security amid recent intelligence that Al Qaeda terrorists have considered using the Southwest border to infiltrate the United States.
Bush, meanwhile, has also promoted a guest-worker program that would allow migrants to work in the United States for a limited time as long as they have a job lined up.
Critics of the plan argue that such workers drive down wages because they often work for lower pay and fewer benefits that native-born residents.
“The best way to approach this is attrition by enforcement — better enforcement of the borders and of worksites,” said Steve Camorata of the private Center for Immigration Studies.
The Pew report found undocumented immigrants increasingly fanning out beyond longtime destination for foreign-born residents. In 1990, 88% of the undocumented population lived in six states — California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida and New Jersey.
By 2004, those states accounted for 61% of the nation’s undocumented population. The top state is California, where nearly one-quarter of the undocumented reside, followed by Texas (14%) and Florida (9%).
Next on the list were New York (7%), Arizona (5%), Illinois (4%), New Jersey (4%), and North Carolina (3%).
Arizona and North Carolina are two of the fastest-growing states in the nation overall and have metropolitan areas booming with new construction, restaurants and service-oriented businesses — job sectors that often hire undocumented workers.
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