News: Immigration (Supplement)
Officials to act aggressively to protect public, cut costs
As early as next January, immigrants applying to Canada will undergo stricter medical tests for infectious diseases, and the tests will be tailored to their country of origin.
Health Canada and Immigration Canada are planning an overhaul of their antiquated testing system, and will apply the two medical clauses in the Immigration Act more aggressively.
The first clause denies entry to any individual “who is, or is likely to be, a danger to public health or to public safety.” The second clause denies immigrant status to anyone who “would cause, or might reasonably be expected to cause, excessive demands on health or social services.”
The act applies to immigrants, refugees, temporary workers and visitors staying longer than six months. Under the present system, they have to pass a medical exam, a blood test for syphilis and a chest X-ray for tuberculosis.
Health Canada is using a new computer model to assess the risk posed by 47 infectious diseases, a process that could take a year.
However, if in the interim the computer study identifies a pressing need to test for a certain disease, “we won’t wait until we have 15 diseases as a package” to impose testing requirements, said Dr. Ron St. John of the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control in Ottawa. “No, we’ll do it right away.”
The new system will be more agile. Screening immigration applicants for a particular disease can literally begin overnight, around the world or in one country or region.
Dr. St. John isn’t yet sure which diseases will be universally tested for, because the new computer model that Health Canada is developing may produce some surprises. The computer model will first assess the need to screen for tuberculosis, hepatitis B, HIV, syphilis and influenza.
Dr. St. John speculated that the computer model will show a need for mandatory, universal tests for tuberculosis and hepatitis B and C.
However, the issue of cost will probably decide whether all immigrants will have to pass an HIV test. Despite the infectious nature of HIV, Dr. St. John says he doesn’t see it as a public-health issue.
“HIV is totally preventable and there’s plenty of HIV already in Canada,” he said. “Given that 98 per cent of the population is quite knowledgeable, if you just met a man or a woman from Ghana, are you going to rush into a sexual relationship?” A person should know the HIV status of any new sexual partner, he added, regardless of their birthplace.
A person with HIV, however, costs between $110,000 and $178,000 in direct medical care, according to Greg Williams, research associate with the Canadian Policy Research Networks in Ottawa. A recent University of British Columbia study adds an additional $600,000 per person as an indirect cost to society in lost productivity.
The Health Canada computer model will study the need to screen for HIV, but Dr. St. John said it is now being “debated and discussed” in a variety of government departments as a possible exclusionary disease because of the medical costs.
Tuberculosis, not HIV, is right at the top of the list of dangerous infectious diseases because 30 per cent of the world’s population has been infected with it.
Of the roughly 225,000 immigrants who came here in 1996, some 60,000 people with inactive, non-contagious tuberculosis. Of the 2,000 reported cases of active tuberculosis in Canada each year, 57 per cent occur in immigrants, and the number is growing each year. With the disease surging world-wide, experts predict that Canada will have 6,000 new cases of contagious tuberculosis each year in the future.
The mandatory chest X-ray catches perhaps 70 per cent of active cases. These people can be admitted to Canada once they’ve received antibiotic treatment that makes them non-contagious.
However, one in 10 such cases becomes active again when the tuberculosis bacteria overwhelm the weakened immune systems of elderly or people with HIV. In fact, a person with a combination of HIV and inactive tuberculosis has a one-in-12 chance of developing active tuberculosis every year. “Not over a lifetime,” Dr. St. John stressed, “but every year.”
Nevertheless, Health Canada’s computer analysis may show that universal tuberculosis testing isn’t needed. For example, people applying from Norway and from Southeast Asia get chest X-rays, even though Norway has an even lower tuberculosis rate than Canada. (Canada’s overall rate reflects the health of its native population, whose incidence of tuberculosis matches that in some developing nations.)
The disease is endemic in Southeast Asia, which provided roughly 40 per cent of all immigrants last year. And in some parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, as many as 90 per cent of the people have tuberculosis. “In some countries, maybe we should do even more than chest X-rays,” said Dr. St. John. Skin tests and sputum tests give more accurate diagnoses.
As the scientists, headed by Dr. Trong Nguyen, plow through the disease list, they will also assess Chagas’ disease, a blood parasite that lives unnoticed for years, only to suddenly attack the heart, sometimes fatally. It might be a prime target for regional testing since it is prevalent in Central and South America. In some countries such as El Salvador, two per cent of blood donors have Chagas.
Chagas’ disease has made its way into the Canadian blood supply: A Manitoba woman died in 1986 after receiving blood contaminated with the parasite. Although there is no known treatment, an immigrant who tests positive and is admitted to Canada could be advised against donating blood or sharing needles.
The medical screening project is the brainchild of Dr. Brian Gushulak, Canada’s former director of quarantine health services. Dr. Gushulak is serving a term as medical director for the International Organization on Migration in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Canadian scientists are working parallel to a team of U.S. scientists from the American Centres for Disease Control. Each team is testing a different computer model. They’ll meet in Atlanta in December and compare notes.
Apparently the scientists compare more than computer models. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control “would much rather have our law than theirs,” said Dr. St. John. To add or subtract a disease for screening in the U.S. —the Americans still test for leprosy, along with tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV —is a cumbersome legislative process.
Three federal departments —Health, Citizenship and Immigration and Foreign Affairs —will apply the computer model’s results in pilot studies overseas. If they’re successful, “probably a year from now we may have all the changes world-wide.”
If the computer model holds up, Canada will share it internationally. It could add crucial speed and flexibility to the arsenal against the onslaught of infectious diseases.
Health Canada is also proposing changes to its Quarantine Act to allow health officials to hold a potentially infectious person as long as necessary.
A sensational case involving a would-be refugee who stepped off a plane in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport during the l995 Ebola outbreak in Zaire prompted the amendment.
The man, arriiving from Britain, was “one of those persons who ate their papers and claimed to be a refugee,” said Dr. St. John. “He decided it would help his case, since he was from Zaire originally, to say he had just come from the site of the Ebola outbreak there, where he had helped to bury his dead mother.”
That story sent Health Canada into a scramble for its long-buried quarantine form, last used 40 years earlier. When health officials realized that the law allowed only 14 days of detention, they rushed to the courts to beg for extra time. Ebola has an incubation period of three weeks. “Fortunately, we had a sympathetic judge.”
Meanwhile, back at the airport, the man was being held in the VIP lounge. Police eventually discovered that he actually lived in London, not Zaire.
With the man’s identify unmasked and his Ebola story discredited, the officials decided to change the law and are now planning formal procedures for detaining and isolating potentially contagious individuals. That includes finding an alternative to using VIP lounges in public health crises.
Jacquie Miller learned that’s what parents must brace themselves for when they bring home a baby of a different race.
Jennifer Dawson-Bent was at the mall with her two daughters when an elderly Asian woman approached her. “How much did you pay for your children?” the woman inquired. The question was more blunt than some, but the blond-haired mother is used to startlingly personal questions from strangers when she’s out with Jasmine, 5, and Alanna, 2. Her daughters were adopted from China as babies.
As the number of babies available to adopt within Canada drops, people are looking to the developing world and Eastern Europe. More babies are now adopted internationally than from within Canada.
Many of the children adopted from other countries have racial and ethnic backgrounds that are different from those of the Canadians who adopt them.
These families confront issues that in the past most adoptive parents didn’t have to think about: How can they raise children who feel good about their background? How important is racial and cultural identity, and how can they foster it? How can they help when their children encounter racial slurs or prejudice?
The first shock for many parents is their instant visibility. “We’re so obvious when we’re out in the community with the kids,” says Ms. Dawson-Bent, a Kanata resident. “Everybody knows they were adopted. Everybody knows their whole story, pretty well, just from seeing us walking at the mall.
“I can go to the museum in Ottawa, and somebody living in Kanata will have seen us in Kanata, and say, ‘Oh, hi, I’ve seen you at the mall.’ They recognize the children because of the family (racial) mix. It is kind of unsettling.”
The largest number of international adoptions are from China, which was the source country for about a third of the 2,163 children adopted in Canada from overseas last year.
Most of them are girls, victims of that country’s one-child policy. Some Chinese parents, especially in rural areas where sons are needed to help with farm work, abandon baby girls to orphanages.
Parents of babies from China say strangers feel free to ask them just about anything. Most people are just curious, and often they only want to comment on how beautiful the babies are. But the questions can also be intrusive and ignorant: Is that child yours? Where did you get the children? How long have you had her? Where are her real parents? What does her father look like? Does she eat rice?
“People say some unbelievably silly things,” says Barrhaven resident Susan Christie, who with husband, Vaughan, adopted daughter Nicola from China when she was nine months old last spring. She laughs as she reports what one stranger asked about their baby daughter: “What will you do when she starts to speak and it’s Chinese? How will you understand her?”
Social workers who counsel prospective parents warn they should be prepared for the scrutiny. In fact, one trait they look for is people who don’t mind being different, or are slightly unconventional.
“It is a very public form of adoption,” says Martha Maslen, a social worker with Children’s Bridge, an Ottawa agency that helps people adopt children from China. “People will intrude into your space in a way they never would with a Caucasian child, whether the child is adopted or not. They might think, ‘Gee, that (Caucasian) child doesn’t look anything like the parents,’ but they are not going to come up and say it.”
The attention can be tiring, says Ms. Dawson-Bent. “You go and pick your child up at swimming lessons or gymnastics. And you see the teacher looking for the child’s mother. And then the child rushes to you, and the teacher always does a double-take. That is the way our lives are going to be.”
Parents have to be careful how they respond. While a hostile “none of your business” may be satisfying, the child is usually listening. Parents don’t want to give the impression there’s anything to hide about their child’s background, but they might not want to share details with strangers, says Ms. Maslen.
Some responses parents might prefer are: Why do you want to know? Why don’t you ask her about that when she is old enough to decide how much she wants to tell you?
Outright racist comments are rare. But Ms. Dawson-Bent says people are often subtly pejorative, telling her children how lucky they are. “Many people tell us how wonderful we are for saving this poor wretched child. And the kids suck in every word.”
“We’re the lucky ones, we’re the ones who are blessed. These little kids have brought so much to our lives.”
But there is a back-door benefit to the visibility. It ensures openness, which is now seen as healthier than the secrecy that once shrouded adoption.
For many years, social agencies tried to find adoptive parents that looked as much as possible like the adoptive child. Often children weren’t told they were adopted. The whole process was furtive, partly because of the stigma surrounding unmarried mothers.
In fact, in the 1920s, adoptive mothers were advised to pretend they were pregnant by putting progressively larger pillows under their clothes, says Ms. Maslen. The adoptive mother would pretend to have a baby and bring home the adopted child.
Today experts believe it’s better for children to know they were adopted. But the social changes that have made adoption more open also mean there are far fewer children available to adopt. Birth control and abortion are widely available. Unmarried mothers are more likely to raise their children. The number of children adopted in Canada has shrunk dramatically, from 5,376 in 1981 to 2,836 in 1990. Healthy babies are rarely put up for adoption.
As a result, adoptions from other countries, which 25 years ago were virtually unheard of, have grown steadily.
In 1970, there were fewer than 10 international adoptions recorded in Canada. Last year, there were 2,163. After China, the top source countries were India, Haiti, Romania and Russia.
And as Canada becomes more multicultural, children available for adoption domestically are more likely to be from ethnic or visible minorities. For example, of the 40 to 50 children placed by the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton each year, about 10 per cent are from visible minorities, says Wendy James, an adoption supervisor. She says they try to match the children with families of the same background, but they won’t make a child wait if the only families available are of another race or ethnic group.
Erin O’Shaughnessy and her husband, Louis Corbeil, adopted two Canadian babies from different races. Louis Philippe, almost 2, is part aboriginal. Last spring, the family received word that a woman in the Ottawa Valley had chosen them to adopt the child she was about to bear.
The woman is a refugee from Rwanda who had been in Canada less than a month. She is unmarried, poor and decided she couldn’t keep the child.
The birth mother chose them over at least one other potential adoptive family that was black. She said it was more important that Erin and Louis were French-speaking and Catholic.
“I always said if we could have a healthy child, we didn’t care if the child was purple,” says Ms. O’Shaughnessy. “We honestly really felt it just didn’t make any difference to us.”
But when Laura arrived home a few days after her birth, the implications sank in. “It was, ‘Oh my God, can we really do a good job here? And be sure she has good self-esteem? Or is it going to be more difficult for her because she is in a family that is not black?’”
Laura, five months, peers around from her baby seat on the floor of their Orleans home. Ms. O’Shaughnessy coos at the baby: “You don’t know you’re black, do you?” She and her husband are already trying to instill pride in their daughter’s background. They collect articles and books about Rwanda for her to read later. Laura’s photograph album features a black baby on the cover.
Ms. O’Shaughnessy says she expects Laura will experience what children from mixed-race marriages do: “She will not be accepted completely as a black person, because she is being raised in a white family. Yet she won’t be completely accepted as a white person, either, for obvious reasons.”
But the couple believe the love and care they provide will compensate. Ms. O’Shaughnessy says she’s not concerned with what bigots think.
Interracial adoption has been controversial. In the United States, associations representing black social workers have described the adoption of black children into white homes as “cultural genocide.” There is similar sensitivity in Canada among some native groups who oppose placing native children into white homes.
And some experts in developing countries object to North American families adopting children from overseas, saying it’s just another example of rich countries exploiting poor ones.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who argue that the racial background of an adoptive child is irrelevant. They embrace the idea of a global community, and reject segregation based on skin colour or culture.
In the middle are the adoptive parents. Many acknowledge that it would be easier for a child to grow up with parents of the same race or ethnic group. But they figure it’s better for children to be raised in loving families of a different race than to be raised in an orphanage in their home country or a group home in Canada.
“Every child deserves a home,” says Ottawa resident Lynda Inkster, who adopted her daughter from an orphanage in Korea when she was a baby. “No one in Korea would have adopted my daughter. I know that. That’s very true of so many of these children adopted.” Her family was able to give her daughter health care, a good education and, most important, love, she says.
“I can’t see how a child will get that feeling growing up in an institution with 50 other people in one room. How could you feel like you’re a really important person, growing up in your fabulous culture, when you don’t have enough to eat and no one to call your own?”
Her family took their daughter, now 11, to Korea last year for a visit, and they participate in events sponsored locally by Korean-Canadians.
Her daughter’s interest in her Korean roots comes and goes, says Ms. Inkster. “She’s just like any regular kid. Most of the time she’s worried about when the Spice Girls are going to come out with a new tape.”
The idea that children should “blend in” and forget about their roots is widely dismissed these days as unhealthy and unrealistic. There are exceptions, of course. One family who adopted a child from China insisted they considered the child to be Irish, just like them, says Ms. Dawson-Bent, who is the executive director of Children’s Bridge.
“Right,” she says, rolling her eyes.
The approach she and her husband, Roy Bent, take is more typical.
“They need to know as much as they can about their culture to feel good about themselves,” says Mr. Bent.
The family celebrates Chinese cultural holidays like New Year, often with other families who have adopted children from China. They hope to take both daughters to visit China when they’re older.
Children’s Bridge also sponsors play groups once a month that include Mandarin lessons. It helps children to see other interracial families, says Ms. Maslen.
“It is not a matter of saying, ‘Oh, she was from China, but now she is Canadian, period.’ At various stages in her life she is going to be seen as Chinese. So whether the adoptive parents like it, or don’t like it, it is unavoidable. Some children will embrace it, and others will reject it, the same way second-generation immigrant kids do.”
Ms. Dawson-Bent recalls the exact moment when Jasmine realized she was different from her parents. It was at a movie theatre. A boy about nine, sitting behind them, made fun of the colour of Jasmine’s skin. Her daughter turned to her with a look of complete confusion and disillusionment, says Ms. Dawson-Bent. “My heart sank right to my knees. She was just 3 1/2. I didn’t want to have to go into that.”
Jasmine and her sister know they are from China, but racial identity takes a while to sink in. When the family went to eat dim sum in Ottawa’s Chinatown recently, Jasmine looked around in astonishment. “Mommy, there are all these Chinese people here.”
There hasn’t been much Canadian research on how children fare in mixed-race adoptive families. However, one 1994 study, of children adopted mainly from Korea or Bangladesh, found they appeared to be well integrated with their families, had high self-esteem, friends and positive peer relations. The study looked at 126 families in B.C., Ontario and Quebec whose children were at least 12 years old. But the study also found that some children lost their ethnic or racial identity. For instance, 10 per cent of those surveyed said they saw themselves as white.
“We are just a new generation adopting kids from other countries,” says Erin O’Shaughnessy. “It is hard to say what the effect on the children will be. I don’t think we know. We can hope that we are doing the right thing.”
Former diplomat calls for immigration-policy overhaul
Cities such as Toronto and Vancouver could suffer race riots unless there are major changes to a federal immigration policy that blatantly misleads Canadians about the program’s benefits, says an explosive new Fraser Institute study to be released today.
Author Martin Collacott warns Canada’s reputation as a tolerant society could be undermined, not because people are racist but because those in major cities — including existing immigrant populations — are feeling overwhelmed.
Soaring populations in major urban areas are raising concerns about pollution, traffic congestion and pressures on the health and education systems.
“While there is no evidence that any Canadian communities are on the verge of experiencing the tensions and riots involving immigrant communities that have taken place in a number of British cities in recent years, it would be folly to assume that such events could never happen in Canada.”
The report, described as misleading by one federal official, says Canada’s aggressive immigration levels play “at best” a minor role in economic growth and won’t off-set the negative impact of Canada’s aging population.
The federal government perpetuates these myths because the ruling Liberals win the vast majority of seats in multicultural metropolitan areas, argues Mr. Collacott, former high commissioner to Sri Lanka from 1982-86, former ambassador to Syria and Lebanon from 1990-93, and former ambassador to Cambodia from 1993-95.
An honest debate on the issue is also stifled because politicians and interest groups regularly accuse critics of government policy of being racist, according to the study sponsored by the Vancouver-based think-tank.
“The government has shown little inclination to date to take a detailed and comprehensive look at how Canadians view current levels of immigration, particularly in the areas of greatest concentration — Toronto and Vancouver,” writes Mr. Collacott.
Total immigration and refugee arrivals to Canada rose from 227,000 in 2000 to an estimated 260,000 last year. The existing plan projects arrivals to total up to 235,000 this year, and the Liberal government ultimately wants annual totals to equal one per cent of Canada’s population, or about 300,000.
More than three-quarters of those immigrants go to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre has declared his intent to work with provinces to entice future immigrants to lesser-populated regions.
While Mr. Collacott lauds the intent of that strategy, he questions whether the government could entice or force immigrants to move to regions that existing Canadians don’t consider attractive places to live and work.
“If there are no economic opportunities for Canadians in Broken Snowshoe, Saskatchewan, what sense is there of sending a bunch of immigrants there?” he said in an interview yesterday.
Mr. Collacott writes that previous immigration targets used to bear “some relationship” to economic conditions and absorptive capacity, but policy is now driven primarily by political and other special interests.
“In consequence, there is little prospect that we will see the kind of pause that occurred in earlier years between major waves of immigration, which provided time and opportunities for large concentrations of newcomers to be integrated.”
Liberal party politics has corrupted the process, according to Mr. Collacott, because the government is showing a preference for family-class immigrants over those with professional or language skills.
“The government’s principal reason for promoting high immigration levels in spite of the costs seems to be the belief that most newcomers will vote for the Liberal party in federal elections,” writes Mr. Collacott.
“This is particularly true of family-class immigration, which is the least successful category in terms of economic performance and should be significantly curtailed.”
Susan Scarlett, a spokeswoman for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, said Mr. Collacott is misleading Canadians by suggesting the department’s emphasis is on bringing to Canada family members of existing immigrants.
The total number of “economic” immigrants — mostly skilled workers and their families — expected to arrive in Canada this year is about 134,000, while the target for family-class immigrants is 59,000.
“It’s clear the focus is not family class,” Ms. Scarlett said.
Ms. Scarlett also said there are many studies that show continued high immigration levels are vital to ensure a vibrant workforce. “By 2026, immigration will likely account for all population growth. Immigrants invest in business; they create jobs.”
Mr. Collacott said Canadians must debate the issue rationally, but he said little help can be expected from federal opposition parties that are intimidated by the politics of immigration.
By Paul M. Weyrich
Immigration reform is the hot button issue that many in the Republican establishment refuse to touch, but one that is not only good politics but also good policy. That is made clear in a recent story by The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan reporting on a study by the Center for Immigration Studies that examines the attitudes held by elite opinion leaders and the public on immigration. What the study finds is a huge disconnect between the public and their leaders over the level of immigration that is acceptable.
As I’ve noted many times, I cannot be opposed to immigration. My own father was fortunate enough to take advantage of this country’s hospitality in the bleak years after World War I to migrate from Germany. While he never became a rich man here, he was a hard working one and the lessons that I learned from his example allowed me to succeed.
The report, written by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Steven A. Camarota and co-author Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, analyses data from a voluminous survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Camarota and Beck demonstrate a significant chasm between the public and the so-called “leaders” on the question of whether current immigration levels represent a “critical threat to the vital interests of the United States.”
Only 14% of opinion leaders think so. 60% of the public recognizes the problem. If the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was unable to adequately keep track of the Islamic terrorists who planned and executed 9/11/01’s act of war, that should tell us something. Many in the public have learned an important lesson from what happened, but 41% of the “leaders” are just not concerned.
70% of the public agrees that controlling and reducing immigration should be an important goal of foreign policy, more than three times the number of our “leaders.”
It would be easy for those in the national news media, dominated by Political Correctness, to present the public as rednecks who are just ill-educated and prejudiced.
However, how many of the “leaders” are willing to concede that they hold patronizing views of the vast majority of Americans who are in lower- and middle-income brackets and who do not adhere to their Politically Correct views? And are the leaders willing to concede that they are blind to some very unpleasant realities that endanger our security and national well-being?
We live in era of the global terrorist network. It’s important to remember that many of the terrorists who were responsible for committing the atrocities of 9/11 and the earlier attempt on the World Trade Towers in 1993, the plot to bomb the subway in Brooklyn, and other acts or attempted ones were indeed foreign-born Islamics.
When the Center for Immigration Studies issued a report last May on “The Open Door: How Militant Islamic Terrorists Entered and Remained in the United States, 1993-2001” it noted that 17 of the 48 terrorists studied were Lawful Permanent Residents (i.e., green card holders) or naturalized U.S. citizens. Twelve of the 48 terrorists studied were illegal aliens at the time the crimes were committed. A minimum of five of the 48 terrorists had been in the U.S. illegally at some time before they committed their crimes. At least five others had committed serious violations of immigration laws. Most illegal aliens entered legally on temporary visas only to overstay.
Camarota argued in his policy recommendations that, “All aspects of our immigration system, including the way visas are processed overseas, the handling of foreign citizens at ports of entry, policing the nation’s borders, and enforcement of immigration laws within the United States need to be reformed in order to reduce the terrorist threat.”
Furthermore, we need to be more aggressive about dealing with violators of our immigration laws. We need stricter enforcement that gives violators the boot. By doing this we can clamp down on illegal immigration and reduce our vulnerability to terrorism.
The report calls for more tracking of temporary visa holders and the establishment of an entry-exit visa system to ensure greater awareness of what visa holders are doing and when they should leave.
Controlling immigration is a timely, costly job but it will become more and more essential in an era in which anyone can travel anywhere. What may have sounded alarmist before 9/11 should no longer be the case. The image of the burning World Trade Towers should be Exhibit Number One on why we need to overhaul our immigration policies and the bureaucracies that enforce them. Let’s hope the new immigration bureaus that will be replacements for the INS in the just-created Department of Homeland Security do not retain the worst of the INS’ operating principles.
The problem is not just with Middle Eastern immigration, although there is no doubt that it is a very important concern right now and will be for some time to come.
But in a world in which Fourth Generation Warfare predominates, anyone anywhere, including those who seemingly represent the best and brightest of European families, can represent a dangerous and deadly threat to us. Is it inconceivable that modern day successors to groups like Italy’s Red Brigades or Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Gang could try to attack Wall Street to send a message to ‘America’s global capitalists?’ I hardly think so. That’s one reason why I would urge the Administration and the Congress to devote more time and effort to overhauling the laws controlling our borders and the bureaucratic agencies that enforce them.
I wish the leaders would start to follow the public on this issue. We all would be a lot safer and secure.
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.
Of course, “dealing with illegal immigrants should be a top priority in the war on terror.” That’s a no-brainer. Not that most illegal immigrants are terrorists — they aren’t. Most are poor, unskilled people who have come to America to work — whether as busboys, farm hands, chambermaids or in some other low-paid, dirty job — and there’s rarely any mistaking them for the kind of monsters who sneak into the country to kill Americans. Still, no nation can afford a vast underworld of illicit residents. Not only is this unsafe — a natural haven for real evildoers to hide and thrive in. It also makes a mockery of our democratic principles. And it’s more urgent than ever now to do something about it.
The question is what to do. And this is where restrictionists like Mark Krikorian have it wrong. Because the truth is we can’t and won’t deport even a small share of the foreign workers who do so much to keep our economy running. Nor, in an age of globalization, can we seal ourselves off from the rest of the world. Yes, of course, we can regulate the flow — we must. But we will succeed in doing so only if our regulatory scheme is realistic — if it bears some relation to the number of needed workers who come and go every year.
The best analogy is Prohibition. In the 1920s, we tried and failed to regulate alcohol use. Today, we do so very effectively. But that’s because, unlike Prohibition’s unrealistic ban, our current regulatory scheme — liquor licenses, blue laws, and the like — bears some relation to people’s real habits.
So what, when it comes to immigration, would a realistic regulatory scheme look like? Well, for one thing, it would recognize the reality of the global labor market, acknowledging that more than a million foreigners come to the U.S. each year to work — in jobs we need done, even in a downturn. As is, our ceilings accommodate only about three-quarters of that flow, criminalizing hundreds of thousands of laborers and, in the manner of Prohibition, making it impossible to maintain control of our borders. Surely it would make more sense to regain control over who comes and goes by setting a more realistic ceiling — creating an adequate legal channel for needed workers and, in the process, freeing up resources to focus on the few who truly mean to do us harm? Then the rule of law would have a chance to stick.
So too with the seven million illegal workers already here. The answer isn’t a blanket amnesty; no one wants to reward law-breaking. But we do — for our own safety’s sake — need to offer these valuable laborers a way in out of the shadows. And the best means to do so would be a gradual scheme under which, over time, they earn legitimacy — by first coming forward and declaring themselves, then paying a fine, and then remaining on the right side of the law, working, paying taxes and assimilating into American life. Earning legal status would take some years, but the security benefits would kick in right away, allowing us to get an immediate handle on who is here and eliminate the vast black market for bogus identity papers.
These proposals may sound counterintuitive, but how would you rather guarantee American security? In the manner of Prohibition — with an unrealistic, unenforceable code? Or with a practical system we can actually implement — one that allows us to track who lives here, who crosses the border, and who does or doesn’t obey the laws of the land?
The choice is ours to make.
— Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration.
During World War II, the “Home Front” was a metaphor intended to get people to turn in their used tires for recycling and not grumble too much about the rationing of butter.
But in today’s war, “Home Front” is no longer a metaphor. The enemy overseas has no chance of prevailing against our superb armed forces, so his only option is to come here and kill our children in their beds.
As long as this is true, blocking the enemy’s ability to enter our country must be the central objective of homeland security. Everything else in the war against the Islamic militancy — special-forces strikes, intelligence cooperation, stopping money transfers, even invading Iraq — can only be justified if they support this overriding goal.
Most Americans understand that immigration control is a critical tool for protecting America’s national interests. A Zogby International poll taken in the wake of the 9/11 attacks found that the overwhelming majority of Americans, across all races, regions, incomes, and political beliefs, blamed lax border control and screening of immigrants for contributing to the attacks and believed that improved immigration enforcement would reduce the likelihood of future atrocities.
Nor is this mere scapegoating. Terrorists have exploited all aspects of our feckless immigration system to penetrate our society. Our 2002 report on the immigration histories of the (then-) 48 foreign-born, radical Muslim terrorists who committed crimes in the U.S. since 1993, one-quarter were illegal aliens when they committed their crimes and close to half of the total had documented violations of the immigration law at one point or another. Out of that 48, 19 were the 9/11 hijackers and not one of the 15 whose visa applications escaped shredding should have been granted a visa.
Also, amnesties for illegal aliens have facilitated terrorism. Mahmud “The Red” Abouhalima, a leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was legalized as a seasonal agricultural worker (he was actually a cabbie in New York) as part of the 1986 amnesty, which allowed him to travel abroad, including several trips to Afghanistan, where he received terrorist training.
Furthermore, terrorists have engaged in fraudulent marriages to American citizens, such as Khalid Abu al Dahab, who raised money and helped recruit new members for al Qaeda. Others have provided false information on their applications for green cards, like Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. And at least eight terrorists held jobs illegally.
No system that allows a Mexican busboy to sneak in can stop an al Qaeda terrorist. And any attempt to limit immigration-law enforcement to people from Muslim countries is bound to fail; not only would it be politically unsustainable, but the terrorists would simply come from other countries. In fact, the FBI warned local law enforcement last year that, because of increased scrutiny of visitors from Muslim nations, al Qaeda is discussing “hijacking a commercial airliner using Muslim extremists of non-Arabic appearance,” specifically “Chechen Muslims affiliated with al Qaeda, but already present in the United States.”
A greatly stepped-up effort to end the lawlessness that reigns in our immigration system would help protect us from the enemy and, as a bonus for politicians, would be met with overwhelming support by the American people. On the other hand, if another huge attack is carried out by foreign-born terrorists, no one will be able to say he wasn’t warned — and there will be hell to pay for this administration.
— Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
If only wishing could make things so. If it did, Mark Krikorian would be in a great position. We don’t need immigrants, he maintains. We can stop them coming. We can even wage a war of attrition against those already here until we’ve reduced the foreign-born population to . . . I don’t know, maybe the vanishing point.
The problem is none of this true.
“Reduce the number of illegals coming in and increase the number leaving,” he suggests glibly. Well, the U.S. government tries very hard to do just that, and has been trying harder than ever, with vastly increased resources, over the past 15 years. The number of agents on the border has more than doubled. The INS has orchestrated workplace raids to flush out illegal workers. Congress has barred all immigrants, legal and illegal, from most entitlement programs — hoping, just as Mark Krikorian suggests, that this would drive many to return home.
Yet none of this has made any appreciable difference. Agents gain control of one stretch of the border only to find that migrants go elsewhere, crossing at another stretch. Employer sanctions are met with protests, not just from employers but from entire communities where foreign-born labor keeps plants and other businesses open, generating jobs and income for Americans. Most intractable, despite all the effort, the number of entrants has changed little. Just over a million still come each year — and the share arriving illegally is slightly larger.
Nor is this reliance on foreign labor necessarily bad for the economy. Just look at Japan, which has pursued an alternative course, effectively barring immigrants and automating to increase productivity. That seemed like a good choice through the 1980s, but now much of the Japanese car industry is moving elsewhere in Asia, where labor is more plentiful. So too, in the U.S., farmers deprived of immigrant workers might use more machines or grow different crops — or they might just move to another country, like Mexico, where they can find the hands they need. True, some jobs can’t be exported — but in that case too, the economy suffers if the labor flow is restricted. Just try hiring a babysitter or a nurse’s aide in Tokyo.
Of course, in today’s world, economic considerations are and must be secondary. If it really were a choice, as Mark Krikorian suggests, between cheaper produce and American security, no one would even pose the question and we wouldn’t be having this debate. But that isn’t the choice. We can have security and remain connected to the world, too. Most of the war against terror ought to take place beyond our borders, using military means and intelligence to stop evildoers before they arrive at our shores. Then, when it comes to immigration, the key is recognizing the reality of how many are coming, creating legal channels for those we can vet easily and focusing resources — money, agents, technology and the rest — on the much smaller number who might conceivably do us harm.
This isn’t utopianism, as Mark Krikorian claims — it’s realism. And it isn’t just one option among many for dealing with the immigrant flow. In the age of global terrorism, it’s the only safe way. Pretending we can reduce the influx will have the opposite effect, driving more of it underground and enlarging the shadowy population that lives in America but outside the law, traveling on false papers, driving without licenses, banking outside the financial system and otherwise evading regulation. Is Mark Krikorian really so intent on reducing the immigrant presence that he favors endangering the nation in that way?
— Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration.
I have long considered buying a voicemail system, so that when people would call, a pleasant voice would say, “This is the Center for Immigration Studies. If you think immigrants take jobs Americans won’t do, please press 1 now.”
There are plenty of other myths in the debates over immigration, but this is perhaps the most ridiculous — so divorced from the realities of market economics that it’s more suited to the pages of Mother Jones than National Review. Tamar falls for this when she asks “who then would man our farms? . . . Who would do the dirty jobs in hotels and restaurants? Where would we get nurses?”
There is no such thing as a “job Americans won’t do,” because the economy is not a static object but rather a dynamic system that responds to change. If immigration were reduced, and not enough Americans were willing to take those jobs at existing wages, two things would happen, at the same time: 1) Employers would seek to attract new workers, through higher wages, more benefits, and better working conditions, and 2) Employers would seek to eliminate the jobs they were now having trouble filling, through mechanization and more-efficient use of the remaining labor. In other words, the poor would get a raise (organically, through the workings of the market) and those sectors now dependent on foreign labor would become more productive. What’s more, since the total output of all unskilled workers, immigrant and native, doesn’t amount to more than 4% of GDP, a modest increase in the cost of unskilled labor would have no measurable effect on inflation rates.
Another myth that enthralls high-immigration advocates is that the flow of immigrants is inevitable — “that busboy is going to come anyway,” as Tamar claims. So, these advocates argue, we’ll be better off if we just lie back and pretend to enjoy it, finding some way to manage a phenomenon we are powerless to influence.
In fact, there is nothing inevitable about immigration; it is an artifact of government policy. No one wakes up in Bolivia and says to himself, “Today, I will move to Hoboken!” People migrate to places where they have networks of relatives, friends, acquaintances, countrymen, and these networks are created by the state. You can see how this works by comparing the Philippines and Indonesia. Both are poor, populous countries on the other side of the world, and yet we have more than one million Filipino immigrants, but no Indonesians. Why? Because we ruled the Philippines for 50 years, and kept major bases there for decades longer, establishing the networks that make immigration possible, while we never had anything to do with Indonesia.
Most Mexican immigration, for instance, still comes from several states in the west-central part of the country — the very states where opposition to the Mexico City regime was centered in the 1920s and ‘30s and where the Mexican government encouraged people to head north for work rather than demand democratic reforms. Our Bracero Program, which brought hundreds of thousands of “temporary” farmworkers over a 20-year period ending in the early ‘60s reinforced those networks, and then the big illegal-alien amnesty passed by Congress in 1986 refreshed them yet again.
The networks created by government policy can be interrupted by government policy, albeit with more difficulty. If we are ever to have control over our borders we need to weaken these ties, so they atrophy over time, and not create new ones through the kind of guest-worker amnesty that the White House is pushing. “Regularizing” illegals would only supercharge illegal immigration, from Mexico and elsewhere, making it that much harder to secure our homeland against the enemy.
— Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
President Bush has kicked off his reelection year by proposing an amnesty for illegal aliens dressed up as a guest-worker program, plus the importation of millions of new guest workers and a significant increase in immigration. What is the White House thinking?
The administration first floated the idea of a guest-worker amnesty in 2001, during President Bush’s honeymoon meeting with Mexico’s President Vicente Fox, but discussions came to a halt because of 9/11 (as well as ferocious opposition from House Republicans). Over the subsequent two years, the administration issued occasional statements expressing the continued desire to reach an immigration deal with Mexico — but the complete lack of substance in these pronouncements, combined with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s careful efforts to keep expectations low, suggested it was little more than talk, intended to appease the beleaguered Fox administration and curry favor with hostile Hispanic racial-identity groups in this country.
But there is more to the current amnesty talk than the sweet nothings of diplomacy. The president has unveiled the outlines of his proposal in anticipation of his planned meeting with Fox during the January 12-13 “Summit of the Americas” in Monterrey, Mexico. It is described as a guest-worker program, but the “guest” concept is deceptive; in fact, the program would provide for the permanent importation of thousands of new workers from overseas and amnesty for illegal aliens already here.
As to the first of these goals, the president has frequently said he wants an “immigration policy that helps match any willing employer with any willing employee.” Taking him at his word would suggest a return to 19th-century unlimited immigration, with the American labor market open to the world’s other 6 billion people. And, in fact, this seems to be the objective, because under the proposal, employers would decide which workers come into the United States, though it would maintain the fiction that Americans would have to be offered the jobs first.
Providing U.S. employers of low-skilled labor access to the entire workforce of the Third World would inevitably drive down wages and benefits for Americans, creating ever more “jobs Americans won’t do.” The White House seems to view immigration as similar to trade, seeking a market-driven system that allows free movement of people. But immigration and trade are fundamentally different issues. As Henry Simons, a pioneering University of Chicago free-market advocate wrote in 1948: “To insist that a free-trade program is logically or practically incomplete without free migration is either disingenuous or stupid. Free trade may and should raise living standards everywhere . . . Free immigration would level standards, perhaps without raising them anywhere.”
Although this importation of new foreign workers would be the more far-reaching component of the White House plan in the long run, the amnesty portion is the more controversial and relevant politically.
NONE DARE CALL IT AMNESTY
Not that amnesty supporters ever use the “A” word. A couple of years ago, the National Council of La Raza commissioned focus groups to prepare for the fight over amnesty and concluded that they should never utter the word. As a result, amnesty proponents have concocted a series of ridiculous euphemisms, which have been embraced by the White House and others: “normalization,” “legalization,” “registration,” “permanence,” “earned adjustment, “adjusted work status,” and — my favorite — “phased-in access to earned regularization.”
The only time supporters use the word “amnesty” is when denying that their proposals constitute an amnesty at all, as in the president’s repeated statements that he opposes a “blanket amnesty.” Unfortunately, coming out against a “blanket amnesty” is meaningless. What country would grant legal status to every illegal alien, without so much as a cursory background check? The huge amnesty passed by Congress in 1986 (billed as the first and last in American history) was clearly not a “blanket” amnesty, since there were residency and other requirements applicants had to meet, and 10% of the 3 million applicants were rejected.
It is true that the Bush Amnesty would work differently from the 1986 version. First, illegal aliens would be relabeled “guest workers” under a renewable three-year status, thus allowing them to remain here legally, get driver’s licenses, travel freely, etc. Then, they could apply for green cards under the normal legal-immigration system, free from the fear of deportation. However, rather than allow the backlogs to grow astronomically, as would happen otherwise, the president’s plan would significantly increase legal-immigration quotas so as to accommodate the new applicants. In other words, this is a kind of two-step amnesty, where the former illegal aliens can remain indefinitely in a contingent status, awaiting the day that their number comes up for a green card. But the mechanics are irrelevant to the central fact: Illegal aliens would be rewarded with legal status, and that’s amnesty. To suggest otherwise is an insult to our intelligence.
So what? What’s wrong with legalizing millions of hardworking illegal aliens? Let me count the ways.
What part of “illegal” don’t you understand? Amnesty undermines the rule of law. In the first encounter these people had with our country, they broke our law. It would be one thing to use the model of a tax amnesty and give illegals 60 days to leave the country, no questions asked, after which the hammer of enforcement would come down. But the Bush Amnesty would instead reward illegals with the most coveted asset on the planet — permanent residence in the United States.
“Sucker!” The most immediate victims of amnesty are the millions of people overseas on waiting lists seeking to immigrate legally. Even if the illegals have to go to the back of the line, the fact remains that we have rewarded their lawbreaking, and we thus mock those who did not sneak into our country and sought to obey our law.
Overload. Immigration authorities simply do not have the administrative capacity to manage an amnesty — however it is organized — properly. There is now a backlog of more than 5.5 million applications for immigration benefits, up 26% from the year before, and the Department of Homeland Security is developing and implementing huge new systems to track foreign students and visitors. Do immigration workers in the midst of all this have so much time on their hands that they can take on the additional task of ensuring that millions of illegal aliens comply with the terms of their “phased-in access to earned regularization” — not to mention doing their background checks?
Enemies, foreign and domestic. Of course, the corollary of administrative overload is massive fraud, as overworked bureaucrats start hurrying people through the system, usually with political encouragement. We saw this in the 1986 amnesty, when applicants who claimed to have picked watermelons from trees were legalized as farm workers, because the INS was prohibited from devoting too much attention to suspicious applications, lest the process bog down. This can become a national-security problem, when ineligible people get legal status — people like, say, Mahmud Abouhalima, a cabbie in New York, who got amnesty as a farm worker under the 1986 law and went on to help lead the first World Trade Center attack. Having an illegal-alien terrorist in your country is bad; having one with legal status is worse, since he can work and travel freely, as Abouhalima did, going to Afghanistan to receive terrorist training only after he got amnesty. And don’t fall for the claim that illegal aliens who have sneaked across the Mexican border yearn only to wash our dishes; an Iraqi-born smuggler pled guilty in 2001 to sneaking 1,000 Middle Easterners through Mexico into the U.S., and the former Mexican consul in Beirut was recently arrested for her involvement in a similar enterprise. Another amnesty is guaranteed — guaranteed — to give legal residence to a future terrorist.
“It’s a paycheck!” The morale of government workers responsible for enforcing the immigration law is grievously undermined when their political superiors continually talk about amnesty for the very people who lied, cheated, and generally flouted the law. In this environment, it’s easy to understand how, for instance, an airport immigration inspector in Miami could have allowed Mohamed Atta to re-enter the country in January 2001 even though he had overstayed his visa the last time; after all, why bother focusing on him when millions like him go unpenalized and when political leaders make crystal clear that they don’t take our immigration laws seriously? Immigration workers approach me all the time with their frustration at not being allowed to do their jobs, and amnesty would ensure that they remain trapped in this Dilbert universe, with Congress and the president filling in for the pointy-haired boss.
Priming the pump. Amnesties don’t solve the problem of illegal immigration — they exacerbate it. An INS report released about three years ago showed that after the 1986 amnesty, illegal immigration increased markedly as family and friends of the newly legalized aliens sneaked into the country. And the new illegals weren’t just Mexicans, emboldened to hop across the border; illegal immigration from other countries surged even more dramatically, suggesting that amnesty’s role in encouraging further illegal immigration is a general phenomenon.
We the People? Amnesty will create millions of new U.S.-Mexican dual citizens, who, as early as 2006, may be able to vote in both countries’ elections. This would represent the fulfillment of Mexico’s efforts to extend its authority over a large part of the American population — the most serious threat to our sovereignty since the Civil War. The Mexican consulates in the U.S. already represent the largest such network in any country, and the consuls are increasingly taking part in domestic politics and governance. Amnesty would hugely accelerate this trend.
Sticker shock. Illegal aliens can’t receive welfare; legal immigrants can. The fear of a fiscal earthquake is why Congress in 1986 barred amnesty recipients from some welfare programs for five years and reimbursed states a small portion of their aid costs for the former illegals. But no amount of fancy footwork could avoid the fact that permanently settling millions of unskilled laborers into a modern economy costs the public treasury billions. A study ten years after the last amnesty estimated that the newly legalized aliens had already generated a net fiscal deficit of $24 billion. Is this really the time to saddle states and localities — which would bear most of the costs — with an additional unfunded mandate?
BAIT AND SWITCH
Okay, but even if you stipulate to all these problems, there’s nothing else we can do, right? We can’t round up 9 to 10 million illegals, so why not suck it up and weather the fallout of amnesty, but resolve to mend our ways and put in place measures to ensure we don’t get more illegals in the future? This appears to be the marketing strategy the White House has in mind, with talk of increased use of technology at the border and tougher enforcement against employers who abuse the system.
It would be impolite to ask why these measures aren’t being taken already, given that the enemy is even now plotting to penetrate our defenses and kill us. Let me point out only that this bargain — amnesty in exchange for stricter future control — was the basis of the 1986 law. And as anyone with a modicum of common sense could have predicted at the time, the deal was a trick. The law was indeed tightened, prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens on the valid assumption that removing the magnet of jobs is necessary to stem illegal immigration. But enforcement was sporadic at best, and has now virtually ceased. The consequences were hard to miss: 2.7 million illegal aliens were legalized, but because there was little commitment to law enforcement, every one of them was replaced by a new illegal alien within ten years of the law’s implementation.
To go back to the original question: What are they thinking? The administration is populated by smart, public-spirited men and women; how have they come to support such nonsense? The proximate reason is politics, with the quest for a larger share of the Hispanic vote clouding the judgment of otherwise sensible people. Though its importance is wildly exaggerated, the effort to win more Hispanic votes isn’t a bad idea; it’s just that this isn’t the way to do it. The Hispanic voters most likely to back Republicans are the very law-and-order, God-and-country traditionalists who are left cold by talk of amnesty. A Zogby poll conducted shortly before 9/11 found Hispanics evenly split on amnesty. In fact, twice as many Hispanics in the survey said support for amnesty would make them less likely to vote for the president as said it would make them more likely to support him. And when it came to congressional elections, support for amnesty would lose four Hispanic votes for each one gained. Even more important politically, of course, is the fact that amnesty is poison to the president’s conservative base. In fact, there are few policies more likely to hurt Republican prospects. The same Zogby poll found conservatives opposing amnesty 2-to-1, with about one-third of the total saying they would actually be less likely to vote for the president if he supported an amnesty.
But you don’t need a pollster to tell you that. After Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in December called for giving illegals “some kind of legal status,” Rush Limbaugh, who has customarily remained aloof from the immigration issue, spent 20 minutes of air time lambasting him. Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Colorado Republican and outspoken head of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, called for Ridge to start enforcing the law or resign. Earlier in the fall, Rep. J. D. Hayworth, an Arizona Republican, got 63 colleagues to sign a letter to President Bush urging him to reject “any and all forms of amnesty.” And columnists from Michelle Malkin to Phyllis Schlafly to Paul Weyrich have repeatedly weighed in to blast amnesty.
So, again, how can smart people think there’s something to be gained from amnesty? The answer is that Beltway and Wall Street Republicans live in an elite echo chamber, where the received wisdom about immigration goes unchallenged by respectable people. We conservatives assume this kind of groupthink is just a liberal malady. After all, which of us hasn’t laughed at the comment by the New Yorker writer who remarked after Nixon’s 1972 landslide, “I can’t believe it! I don’t know a single person who voted for him!”? But on immigration, the disconnect between elite and public opinion crosses party lines. The Chicago Council of Foreign Relations in 2002 polled the public and opinion leaders on a variety of foreign-policy-related issues, and found the gap to be greatest on immigration. The poll found that 70% of the public said that reducing illegal immigration should be a “very important” foreign-policy goal, compared with only 22% of elites. The elite/public disconnect was even greater than on issues where you would expect a wide gap, like support for foreign aid or globalization or even the U.N.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page exemplifies this disconnect. So constructive on other issues, the paper is wholly out of touch with America on immigration. Building on its prior record (it has repeatedly called for a constitutional amendment that says, “There shall be open borders”), the Journal responded to Secretary Ridge’s call for amnesty by saying that he deserves a raise.
Republicans need to save the president from his advisers, lest amnesty become for him what illegal-alien driver’s licenses were for Gray Davis: the disaster he embraced because everyone he knew thought it was a good idea. Amnesty shouldn’t even be discussed until our immigration system has been fixed. When it comes to considering tax increases, the rallying cry of Republicans has always been “cut spending first.” In the context of an illegal-alien amnesty, their cry must be “control immigration first.” The White House seems to think that they have put in place the needed immigration-control tools and that they can now move to the next step. In fact, we are years away from the infrastructure that we need to protect our borders. And even then, we need to see eight or ten years of proven, ongoing border control and interior enforcement, with a properly functioning and motivated immigration bureaucracy and a steadily declining illegal-alien population. Only then is it appropriate even to raise the issue of amnesty for the remaining long-term illegals whom we didn’t manage to deport or who didn’t leave on their own. Nor is immigration control a pipe dream, or achievable only with machine guns and land mines on the border. We need only the political will to uphold the law using ordinary law-enforcement tools, and to resist measures that make things worse, such as new guest-worker programs. Once the message gets out that it’s not business as usual any longer, the illegal population will shrink through attrition, and we will wonder why we were paralyzed for so long by this problem.
Mr. Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and a visiting fellow at the Nixon Center.
George W. Bush, having proposed massive reform of immigration policy, will certainly catch it in the neck from both sides in this long-running debate — the too-muchers and the not-enoughers.
The plan Mr. Bush introduced last week calls for renewable three-year visas allowing foreign-born workers to take jobs unfilled by Americans. Those workers here now would have to register and pay a fee. An employer could bring in additional workers by certifying the need. Temporary workers seeking citizenship would enjoy no special treatment. Most, when their jobs end, would be expected to go home.
The Bush plan, in short, has something to offend almost everyone. Conservatives who see the plan as amnesty in drag are unhappy. Democrats whose favorite theme is the disappearance of American jobs are unhappy. The Democratic presidential candidates, unhappy about everything under the sun, are unhappiest of all. Business was reasonably happy, as was Mexico’s Vicente Fox, when Mr. Bush laid the plan before him at the Summit of the Americas. But that doesn’t push the plan through to fulfillment.
Why so much perplexity? In large measure, it is because most of us don’t like dealing with bothersome and intractable realities.
Immigration is the thorniest of realities. On the one hand, a nation has the right to say who comes in and who doesn’t. On the other hand, cars, airplanes, TV, movies, free trade and commercial interdependency have drawn the world together in a way wondrous to see. You could fairly say society is becoming global: not exclusively this, that or the other, but a mishmash. All this is happening regardless of our druthers.
The Arabs, for instance, may not like Americans or the American way of life, but for various reasons, including the need to sell us oil, they can’t do without us. Nor can we exactly look the other way when Arabs of a particular stripe attack the American homeland, murdering Americans.
Likewise, our economy — what with the current low Baby-Boomer procreation — demands more services than the native-born can supply. You say we don’t truly need all those motel rooms that non-American workers clean? Well, maybe not. But we say we do by staying in those rooms. Likewise, if it weren’t for all those homeowners too busy, or too lazy, to mow their own lawns, there would be no Hispanic yard crews. But there are.
And then, there are immigrants like the parents of Colin Powell, not to mention the parents of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who happens to command our troops in Iraq just now, under the overall command of Gen. John Abizaid, an Arab-American. It is a curious fact that so many on the front lines defending America — sometimes dying for her — have names other than Jones and Smith.
We live every day with realities like these. It is no use trying to blink them away. A better program is to start figuring out what can be done. That is where the real merriment commences. Political programs begin with politicians; this means any incoming program will draw anti-aircraft fire on the basis of its — inevitably — political content.
So with the Bush program, most of all in a presidential year. “Why, the so-and-so, prostituting himself for the sake of... “ — I can hear it now. So can you. We shouldn’t let that deter us. We need to work on the immigration reality sooner or later. “Sooner” lets us lay down important markers right now, such as the unassailable need for total assimilation of newcomers into a democratic, English-speaking culture, such as recognition of job-market holes that the foreign-born alone can plug.
We don’t really know how this conversation, once begun, will end up. But, conservatives or liberals, we should be glad the president has invited us to it. The only realities that ruin a man, a woman or a nation are the kind that go forever ignored.
William Murchison is a nationally syndicated columnist.
DOUGLAS, Ariz. — The U.S.-Mexican border is nearly 2,000 miles long. America’s determination to keep illegal aliens out is matched only by their desperation to get in.
“The reality is that hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world are successfully sneaking into the United States,” said Dave Stoddard, a 27-year Border Patrol veteran.
In spite of the massive resources invested in border security, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of undocumented aliens make it into the United States every year.
This is part one 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.
Although some say illegal immigration seems to be out of control, others in government and private industry argue that low-wage, unskilled labor is critical to keeping prices down and America competitive.
“These people that are coming up here, including the undocumented, are good people that are enriching our lives. We do need them,” said Juan Hernandez, a dual national and Texas resident who formerly represented Mexicans north of the border in the Mexican cabinet.
Rancher George Morin, who raises cattle along the Arizona border, has had several run-ins with illegal aliens near his property.
“I woke up real early in the morning, went over to the little dike right here behind the house, and there was about 600 people in the tank there,” Morin said. “So I stood there and looked at them and got ahold of the Border Patrol and they actually loaded three Greyhound buses.”
“The rest of the people were running off like quail,” he added. “It was just insanity.”
Morin added that not every run-in has been nonviolent. Two of his dogs were killed by illegal aliens; one had its head cracked open with a stick, and the other one was poisoned, he said.
In the 1970s, fewer than 100,000 workers entered the United States illegally each year. By 1990, that figure had doubled.
Since then, illegal immigration has exploded, with more than 1 million instances of foreigners being detained at the U.S. border last year.
Some Americans are even taking the law into their own hands, patrolling the borders they feel Washington has abandoned.
Experts say that possibly 12 million people live in the United States illegally — more people than live in Oregon, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas and Rhode Island combined.
The latest U.S. government estimate was that 7 million illegal immigrants lived in the country in Jan. 2000, more than five years ago.
What’s most unsettling to many Americans is not the huge numbers of illegal aliens caught at the border, but the possibly millions more who are not caught.
“Can anybody explain to me why we shouldn’t be paranoid about the southern border being porous?” asked Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
Tancredo has obtained records showing that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency have stopped 132 nationals from countries considered a national security threat, including Syria, North Korea and Iran.
If those numbers are accurate, they may indicate that hundreds more from suspect nations made it across the border.
“The element that concerns me today is the terrorist element. Mainly, radical Muslims from the Middle East,” Stoddard said.
Stoddard spent the last eight years in an area known locally as the “Arab Road,” where ranchers recently found a prayer rug, a Koran and a diary written in Arabic.
Those who call for immediate action to better secure the country’s borders are concerned about the millions who come to America to make a better life, but even more worried about the handful whose intentions are not so noble.
The intelligence reform bill recently signed into law by President Bush calls for an increase in border staffing from 10,000 to 20,000 over the next five years. But the administration’s fiscal 2006 budget calls for only 210 new agents next year.
“If we have another event like 9/11, or worse, and if that event is perpetrated by somebody who has come into this country illegally and if we have done no more to secure those borders than we have presently done,” Tancredo said, “then the blood of everyone who’s killed in that will be on our heads in the Congress and on the president of the United States.”
Today, President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and Mexican President Vicente Fox will meet in Crawford, Texas, for a summit that is not expected to deal with immigration. That is disappointing, especially since Mr. Fox in recent days downplayed the possibility that al Qaeda terrorists could cross into the United States from Mexico, ridiculed the San Diego border fence to curb illegal crossings and vowed to stamp out Arizona’s Project Minuteman. Most troublesome was Mr. Fox’s dismissal of worries about al Qaeda crossing the border.
“We don’t have any evidence or any indication either that terrorists from al Qaeda or any other part of the world are coming into Mexico [and] going into the United States,” he told reporters in Mexico City. “If there is any of that evidence, we will like to have it.”
Well, here it is. As Jerry Seper reported in September in The Washington Times, a top al Qaeda leader met with a violent Salvadoran gang with branches in Mexico and the United States to discuss plans to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The leader, Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, was spotted in Honduras with figures from the Mara Salvatrucha gang, a notorious trafficker of humans, weapons and drugs into the United States. Al Qaeda is known to be watching the U.S.-Mexico frontier. U.S. authorities have repeatedly stated worries that al Qaeda could exploit the porous border.
As for the fence in San Diego, the House voted last month to complete a fence along the last 3.5 miles of the border between Mexico and United States. Mr. Fox offered this about the fence: “No country that is proud of itself should build walls . . . We are convinced that walls don’t work.” The fence should be razed, he said.
The Mexican president also had choice scolding about Project Minuteman, the civilian border-surveillance group that expects to begin operations in April in Arizona. The Minutemen have vowed to avoid confrontation, as they should, and notify the Border Patrol when they see illegal immigrants crossing the border. This annoys Mr. Fox, who said: “We will use the law, international law and even U.S. law to make sure that these types of groups . . . will not have any opportunity to progress.”
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, whose state, Arizona, ranks fifth in attracting illegal immigrants, called Mr. Fox’s remarks “downright insulting.” We agree. Mr. Kyl suggested that Mr. Fox “demonstrate perhaps a little less disdain for the rule of law north of the border.” Well said, Senator.
The notorious crime syndicate Mara Salvatrucha is threatening Arizona’s Project Minuteman and reportedly plans to teach it “a lesson” once the Minutemen begin fanning out along Arizona’s border regions this weekend. This probably was not the bedfellow that President Bush, the U.S. Border Patrol and the American Civil Liberties Union were counting on when they began criticizing the civilian border-surveillance group in recent weeks. But the president, law enforcement officers and activist groups have unintentionally ended up on the same side of the issue as a violent criminal gang targeted by coordinated raids just two weeks ago.
It is not hard to see why Mara Salvatrucha prefers the border status quo. The gang stems from a town in El Salvador named La Mara and salvatruchas means guerrillas. The gang grew from Salvadoran refugees in California in the 1980s into one of the largest criminal syndicates in North America, with as many as 20,000 members in the United States and branches throughout Mexico, Central America and Canada. Mara Salvatrucha is among the most successful smugglers of drugs, weapons and people across the U.S.-Mexico border.
It’s ruthless, too: When federal authorities arrested more than 100 gang members two weeks ago in Operation Community Shield — spanning New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Baltimore Miami, Dallas and elsewhere — more than half of the suspects had prior arrests or convictions for murder, assault, arson, weapons offenses or charges of drug possession. Mara Salvatrucha has reportedly issued “green lights” to kill police officers in Virginia and Maryland. Such a criminal enterprise — which, we point out, is the largest criminal syndicate in the Washington area — benefits greatly from lax border security and under-funding of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Thus, it is clear that Project Minuteman threatens to complicate things for its smuggling and law-breaking operations. Project Minuteman’s 1,000 or more observers will likely be able to spot the gangsters as they attempt to cross into Arizona. They will be able to report on suspected criminal activity involving illegal border-crossings and point the Border Patrol toward the worst offenses. Some of the Minutemen with valid licenses will be armed. The Minutemen have been instructed to holster their weapons and not to confront any suspected lawbreakers. Their only purpose is to spot offenders and report them to the Border Patrol.
But Mara Salvatrucha may well do its best to force them to react otherwise, given the stakes for a criminal enterprise like Mara Salvatrucha and its violent record inside the United States.
Two key lessons here are that criminal enterprises benefit from lax enforcement and that ordinary citizens protest when the federal government fails them.
That hasn’t been the refrain thus far. In fact, critics of the Minutemen have mostly avoided talking about groups like Mara Salvatrucha and have instead distorted the facts to accuse Project Minuteman of breaking the law. Mr. Bush was wrong last week to call the Minutemen “vigilantes.” The Minutemen are not a lynch mob.
Mexican President Vicente Fox has played the xenophobia card by referring to the Minutemen as “migrant-hunting groups.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona erroneously stated the Minutemen will “attempt to enforce federal immigration law.” In fact, the Minutemen have repeatedly stated they are neither hunters nor law enforcers, and that duly constituted government authorities are the only rightful enforcers of the law.
Project Minuteman still has both public opinion and the law firmly on its side. Public-opinion data on illegal immigration regularly shows strong support for tougher laws on, and tougher enforcement of, illegal immigration. If only Mr. Bush and Congress would address that agenda.
New Mexico official hopes to expand citizen volunteer project to 2nd state
In its second day of operations, the civilian volunteer Minuteman Project claimed to have aided the Border Patrol in the apprehension of 141 illegal aliens along the Arizona border and deterred many more from attempting to cross from Mexico.
With the project gaining favorable attention, a city official from New Mexico announced he would like to expand the project to his state.
“It has been successful,” said Chris Simcox of Civil Homeland Defense, a group aiding the Minuteman Project. “No one has come across.”
While President Bush and other officials have characterized the Minutemen as “vigilantes” and Mexico’s President Vicente Fox has threatened them with prosecution, the group is getting more favorable attention from some media outlets and radio talk-show hosts impressed with their composure, discipline and orderliness.
Meanwhile, Albuquerque City Councilman David Pfeffer said he wants to bring the Minuteman Project to New Mexico. Pfeffer said he wants to be personally involved in the volunteer effort to patrol the border for illegal immigrants and smugglers.
“I would be willing to get involved with an effort along New Mexico’s borders,” Pfeffer said.
Pfeffer said he attended a gathering Friday of Minuteman volunteers in Tombstone and that the meeting helped persuade him to support the effort.
“What I understood from their message ... was that we have a serious problem at the border,” Pfeffer said.
Pfeffer said he would “absolutely” be willing to get involved with a New Mexico citizen border-patrol project.
As for carrying a weapon, Pfeffer said he “wouldn’t go out there unarmed.”
“There is a Mexican drug cartel that has threatened peoples’ lives because of this,” Pfeffer said. “The smugglers that come across the borders will shoot at you. So no, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that some people have armed themselves.”
Pfeffer said some residents of Santa Fe, New Mexico, were also present in Tombstone for the purpose of learning from the experience to expand the effort to their state.
Meanwhile, in Tombstone, Simcox said the effort has exceeded his expectations so far.
“I’m just ecstatic with how successful it’s been,” Simcox said.
Hundreds of the citizen volunteers, armed with binoculars and radios, are casting themselves as the eyes and ears of the Border Patrol, whose top officials have also denounced the action, though rank-and-file agents have been spotted thanking the Minutemen for their presence.
“We want to continue through the summer until the government caves,” Simcox said. “Our president and Congress have continued to ignore this issue, the most serious threat to national security is this border.”
The Minutemen, named after U.S. War of Independence militia group in New England, is made up of civilians from across the United States, many of them retired servicemen or law enforcement personnel.
The Minutemen are guarding a 23-mile stretch of the border where one out of every five of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants arrested last year crossed into the U.S., according to Border Patrol statistics.
The volunteers report illegal crossers to the Border Patrol rather than confront or detain illegal aliens themselves.
“Our aim is to send a message to Mr. Bush and Congress that they have not listened to the demands of citizens,” said Simcox. “We are modeling what homeland security should look like. There should be National Guardsmen every 2,000 yards from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. You can’t find a greater threat to the U.S. than right here.”
So far, more than a thousand Americans have descended on a remote stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border to join the Minuteman Project.
The Minuteman Project is having an impact. Smugglers have told the Mexican press that crossing in the area where the Minutemen are patrolling is now virtually impossible and they have to go elsewhere or wait 30 days until the Minutemen are gone.
But Simcox is hoping more volunteers will join the effort and sustain it through the summer.
About 66,000 illegal immigrants were caught last month in one area where the Minutemen are now patrolling. Border Patrol officials admit many more evade capture.
Besides deterring illegal immigration and helping capture some aliens, the Minutemen believe their action is raising awareness of the border problem and may force Congress and Bush to rethink the guest worker plan many of his core supporters oppose.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, leader of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, and a supporter of the Minuteman Project says the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to send 500 more Porder Patrol agents to the troubled area last week is no coincidence.
But he points out those agents were transferred from other parts of the porous Mexican border.
“If we secure the Arizona border, then we will see a massive shift ... to New Mexico border,” he says. “And then if we secure the New Mexico border, we’ll see a massive shift to the Texas border. So it goes until you actually seal the border.”
Tancredo says a security fence, like that built by the Israelis and many other countries, is a “perfectly acceptable, low-tech method of trying to stop people from coming into your country without your knowledge.” Tancredo says even though Congress has passed legislation authorizing 2,000 more agents per year for the next five years, the Bush administration does not want to hire them.
AGUA PRIETA, Mexico — The number of Mexican migrants trying to sneak into the United States through southeast Arizona has dropped by half since hundreds of U.S. civilians began guarding the area earlier this week, say Mexican officials assigned to protect their citizens.
But that doesn’t mean the migrants have given up. Most remain determined to cross and say they will simply avoid the 23-mile stretch of desert between Agua Prieta and Naco, where volunteers from the “Minuteman Project” are guarding the U.S. side of the border.
Grupo Beta, a Mexican government-sponsored organization that tries to discourage people from crossing illegally and aids those stranded in the desert, began patrolling that area along with state police officers on Sunday, when Minuteman anti-immigrant activists began showing up.
Before the volunteers arrived, Grupo Beta encountered at least 400 migrants daily. On Monday, the second day Minutemen were present on the border, they spotted 198, said Bertha de la Rosa, Beta’s coordinator in Agua Prieta, a town across the border from Douglas, Ariz.
De la Rosa said that doesn’t mean most have decided to stay home.
“The fact that we’re not seeing them here doesn’t mean they are not trying to cross,” de la Rosa said. “They say they will look for another place or wait awhile — but they are not giving up.”
Grupo Beta, along with armed state police officers, began patrolling the Mexican side of the border on Sunday.
Jose Luis Mercado is among those determined to cross.
Mercado, a farm worker from central Mexico state, was one of 10 migrants who walked through the desert all night Monday and early Tuesday before they were abandoned by the smuggler they had paid to get them across the border.
“He just said it was too risky to cross and to wait for him, but he never came back,” Mercado said.
Mercado, like most migrants trying to cross into the United States from this dusty border city, had been unaware of the Minuteman Project, despite extensive news media coverage of the group.
He and his companions were resting in a ditch littered with plastic bottles, clothes and empty tuna cans when they were spotted by Grupo Beta agent Hector Salazar.
“There are a lot of people trying to catch you,” Salazar told the migrants as a small plane and then a U.S. border patrol helicopter flew over the barbed-wire fence dividing the border.
“It’s not only border patrol, but also armed civilians,” Salazar said. “Don’t give them the pleasure of detaining you.”
But the migrants declined Grupo Beta’s offer for a discounted bus ticket back home. They vowed to attempt the crossing as many times as it took to make it into the United States.
“I’m going to risk it and try somewhere else,” said Mercado, 40, who has five children and earns $60 a week. “I have no other option. I want to be able to pay for my children’s education so they don’t have to go through all this.”
Pro-migrant activists say people unable to cross in Agua Prieta have begun arriving at shelters in Nogales, about 80 miles west, and in Altar, a town about 125 miles southwest.
Minutemen organizers initially promised as many as 800 volunteers would participate in the monthlong migrant-monitoring project at one time or another. They say about 480 have shown up thus far. There was no way to independently verify that number. Authorities were not keeping count.
Francisco Garcia, a volunteer for Altar’s lone shelter, said most migrants dismiss the Minutemen as “crazy people” — but for migrants’ rights activists, the situation is worrisome.
“For us, it’s clear to see things could get out of control because those in the migration business are not easily intimidated,” Garcia said. “We’re afraid an aggression could escalate into an international incident.”
The Minutemen, some of whom are armed, say their purpose is partly to draw attention to the high influx of migrants across the Arizona-Mexico boundary, considered the most porous stretch of the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. Of the 1.1 million illegal migrants caught by the U.S. Border Patrol last year, 51% crossed at the Arizona border.
But in Mexico and Central America, the volunteers are seen as “hunters of illegals” or racists.
“They have a right to patrol their border, but I only want to cross to find work,” said Vidal Sanchez, a 26-year-old farmer who was walking through Sonora’s scrub-covered desert Tuesday.
“If they detain us, I’m going to tell them I need to work. I think they’ll understand.”
[Kwing Hung: viewpoint from a Hispanic]
The “Minutemen” have left their posts along a short stretch of the Arizona border with Mexico after their month-long effort to stem the flow of illegal immigration. The Minuteman Project, which ended May 1, never drew the thousands of volunteers organizers predicted would show up along the 23-mile stretch of desert in Cochise County, Ariz., which has been a favorite crossing point for thousands of illegal aliens. At month’s end, fewer than 900 men and women had joined the ragtag group that some hailed as “citizen volunteers” and others condemned as vigilantes, and only 335 illegal aliens were apprehended as the result of their efforts.
That’s about half the number of illegal aliens the U.S. Border Patrol usually picks up each month along that same stretch of border — which the Minutemen say is proof of their effectiveness. But the Border Patrol has a different explanation. The drop in border crossings is “not attributed to any civilians on the border at all,” agent Andrea Zortman told National Public Radio recently. In March 2004, she explained, “we began the Arizona Border Control Initiative Phase I, and with that, we brought in additional agents, additional vehicles, assets, infrastructure, technology and whatnot.” The Mexican government, too, stepped up its efforts to patrol the border, sending in troops to scare off Mexicans hoping to sneak into the United States near where the Minutemen set up camp with their lawn chairs and binoculars.
Of course no one knows if some of these illegal aliens simply hiked a few extra miles to avoid the new agents and Minutemen and crossed elsewhere. But the Christian Science Monitor reported recently that to extend the same level of manpower along the entire 1,400-mile border with Mexico would require “60,000 people — and probably a permanent presence, experts note.” There’s a much better way to deal with the problem, but unfortunately, most politicians seem terrified even to discuss it.
The problem of illegal immigration could be vastly improved, if not solved, if we’d reform legal immigration. The dirty little secret is that we need more immigrants than we currently allow into the U.S. legally, whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not. Now, I know public opinion polls show that most Americans don’t want more immigrants. Only 9% of Americans favor increasing immigration, according to one recent poll by Republican pollster Ed Goeas. But the vast majority of adult illegal aliens are gainfully employed — and not at below-minimum wage jobs either — which means that the American labor market easily absorbs them, and, in fact, has become dependent on them.
Although some immigration opponents claim that immigrants take jobs from Americans, there is little evidence to support this. One study by Rob Paral of the Immigration Policy Center shows that employment in one-third of all job categories would have contracted during the 1990s in the absence of newly arrived immigrant workers, even if all U.S.-born workers with recent experience in those categories had been re-hired. According to Paral’s analysis, “data from the 2000 census indicate that even if native workers could readily have moved to any part of the country in which jobs were available during the 1990s, and even if they had been willing to accept any job offered, there would not have been nearly enough unemployed native-born workers to fill all available jobs.”
Without the more than 12 million immigrants who arrived in the 1990s — including some 5 million illegal aliens — the U.S. would have created fewer jobs, experienced slower economic growth and maintained a lower standard of living for everyone. Large segments of agriculture, the poultry and beef industry, certain manufacturers, and other employers faced with labor shortages or skyrocketing wages would have been forced out of business or moved their production abroad.
Even if it were possible to put native-born workers into all jobs now performed by immigrants, would it make sense? We spend billions of dollars each year to educate Americans. Do we really want Americans with 13 or more years of education picking lettuce, processing chickens or cleaning toilets — and are we willing to pay them $18 or $20 an hour to do so? Doesn’t it make more sense to match relatively low-skilled, foreign-born workers to jobs that require few skills?
If we changed our immigration laws to allow needed workers to immigrate legally, we’d largely solve our illegal alien problem; the Minutemen could go home permanently; and the Border Patrol could devote itself to keeping out drug dealers and terrorists. Too bad politicians aren’t even willing to consider this option.
Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a Townhall.com member organization.
By Mark Krikorian
The McCain/Kennedy amnesty bill has been unveiled, and it’s the same hoax we’ve fallen for before.
Like the telemarketer who bilks a widow and then comes back in a different guise to charge a fee to “help” her get the original money back, the anti-borders crowd created today’s immigration crisis and is now offering as a solution the very policies that got us in this mess in the first place.
Ordinarily the introduction of one more bill wouldn’t warrant much attention on Capitol Hill. Each year, congressmen introduce thousands of pieces of legislation, often merely to spark discussion on an issue or placate a noisy constituency. Few ever make any progress.
But the McCain/Kennedy bill (called the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act) has a good deal of muscle behind it, and in any case is the only amnesty-guestworker bill that will have a significant coalition pushing it. Yesterday’s press conference included not only senators McCain and Kennedy, but also Brownback and Lieberman, plus Republican representatives Flake and Kolbe from Arizona, and Illinois Democrat Gutierrez. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed it, as did the National Restaurant Association, the Service Employees International Union, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the National Immigration Forum, as well as writer Tamar Jacoby.
The essence of the bill is the same as the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act: amnesty up front for millions of illegal aliens in exchange for paltry promises of future enforcement — promises that will quickly be abandoned. But in 1986, many people didn’t know that yet. There was a sense then that the law was a grand bargain — closing the back door by prohibiting the employment of illegal immigrants (for the first time ever), but tying up the loose ends of prior policy missteps with an amnesty.
But in the words of the old Russian saying, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
The amnesty part works this way: The former illegal aliens are re-labeled as legal workers; after a six-year period of indenture, payment of some fines, criminal and security background checks, and an English and civics test, they (and their families) get green cards. This is similar to how the last amnesty worked, except for the term of indenture; the 1986 law amnestied those who had already entered the country before a certain date, some four years prior to the law’s passage. Thus the McCain/Kennedy proposal is a prospective amnesty, as opposed to the 1986 measure, which was a retrospective amnesty.
The guestworker part of the bill provides for 400,000 new foreign workers a year, with an escalator clause if businesses snap up the cheap, docile labor faster than expected. These “temporary” workers would have to serve only a four-year period of indenture before they, too, would get green cards. To accommodate them, legal immigration quotas would be increased by close to half a million a year.
The enforcement sections of the bill are laughably thin, making the amnesty-in-exchange-for-enforcement claim even less plausible than it would be otherwise. The part on border security is almost a parody of a Washington cop-out: It orders up yet another “National Strategy for Border Security” (how about picking one of the previous strategies and just enforcing it?), plus an advisory committee, two coordination plans, and various other reports and programs and multilateral partnerships. It’s like John Kerry going duck hunting: He’s wearing the right outfit, but he’s obviously insincere.
And the interior enforcement provisions seem intended to actually hobble enforcement. Though the law provides for a system to verify employment eligibility, it instructs the Social Security administration to reinvent the wheel rather than simply expand on the successful pilot system the immigration service has been developing for over a decade. The job of auditing firms for compliance with the immigration law would also be taken away from immigration agents, and given instead to the Labor Department, perhaps the only agency even less capable of doing its job. And the bill specifically says that it does not give state and local cops any new authority to enforce immigration law.
Despite the long list of interest groups behind the legislation, the McCain/Kennedy amnesty’s odds aren’t good. John Cornyn, chairman of the Senate’s immigration subcommittee, doesn’t like it, and the Senate recently defeated a more narrow amnesty proposal from senators Craig and Kennedy (funny how that name keeps popping up). On the House side, there’s a new pro-borders majority among Republicans, energized by their victory with the Real ID Act, that will fight the amnesty tooth and nail. And the White House is uttering sweet nothings, standing back out of concern that supporting this bill, which is an amnesty even by the president’s slippery definition, could cause a “read my lips”-style blowup among conservatives.
Perhaps most important, the public is becoming increasingly concerned about immigration. The issue is seldom among the top two or three issues for voters, but that seems to be changing. Recurrent reports of terrorists and super-violent gang members exploiting our broken immigration system are finally getting people’s attention. The way the Minuteman Project border-watch program in Arizona resonated on talk radio, its spread to other states, and its adoption by prominent politicians like California Gov. Schwarzenegger are all signs that the McCain/Kennedy amnesty bill may well be the last gasp of the anti-borders crowd.
U.S. Border Patrol agents have been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section of the Arizona border where protesters patrolled last month because an increase in apprehensions there would prove the effectiveness of Minuteman volunteers, The Washington Times has learned.
More than a dozen agents, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said orders relayed by Border Patrol supervisors at the Naco, Ariz., station made it clear that arrests were “not to go up” along the 23-mile section of border that the volunteers monitored to protest illegal immigration.
“It was clear to everyone here what was being said and why,” said one veteran agent. “The apprehensions were not to increase after the Minuteman volunteers left. It was as simple as that.”
Another agent said the Naco supervisors “were clear in their intention” to keep new arrests to an “absolute minimum” to offset the effect of the Minuteman vigil, adding that patrols along the border have been severely limited.
Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar at the agency’s Washington headquarters called the accusations “outright wrong,” saying that supervisors at the Naco station had not blocked agents from making arrests and that the station’s 350 agents were being “supported in carrying out” their duties.
“Border Patrol agents are the front line of defense against terrorism,” Chief Aguilar said, adding that the 11,000 agents nationwide are “meeting that challenge, head-on ... as daunting a task as that may sound.”
The chief — a former head of the agency’s Tucson sector, which includes the Naco station — said that with the world watching the Arizona border because of the Minuteman Project, agents in Naco “demonstrated flexibility and resilience in carrying out their critical homeland security duties and responsibilities.”
But Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, yesterday said “credible sources” within the Border Patrol also had told him of the decision by Naco supervisors to keep new arrests to a minimum, saying he was angry but not surprised.
“It’s like telling a cop to stand by and watch burglars loot a store but don’t arrest any of them,” he said. “This is another example of decisions being made at the highest levels of the Border Patrol that are hurting morale and helping to rot the agency from within.
“I worry about our efforts in Congress to increase the number of agents,” he said. “Based on these kinds of orders, we could spend the equivalent of the national debt and never have secure borders.”
Mr. Tancredo, chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, blamed the Bush administration for setting an immigration enforcement tone that suggests to those enforcing the law that he is not serious about secure borders.
“We need to get the president to come to grips with the seriousness of the problem,” he said. “I know he doesn’t like to utter the words, ‘I was wrong,’ but if we have another incident like September 11 by people who came through our borders without permission, I hope he doesn’t have to say ‘I’m sorry.’ “
During the Minuteman vigil, Border Patrol supervisors in Arizona discounted their efforts, saying a drop in apprehensions during their protest was because of the Mexican government’s deployment of military and police south of the targeted area and a new federal program known as the Arizona Border Control Initiative that brought manpower increases to the state.
The Naco supervisors blamed the volunteers for unnecessarily tripping sensors, disturbing draglines and interfering with the normal operations of the agents. They said that their impact on illegals was “negligible” and that civilians should leave immigration enforcement “to the professionals.”
Several field agents credited the volunteers with cutting the flow of illegal aliens in the targeted Naco area, saying the number of apprehended illegals dropped from an average of 500 a day to less than 15 a day.
More than 850 volunteers, in a protest of the lax immigration enforcement policies of the White House and Congress, sought to reduce the flow of illegal aliens along a popular immigration corridor on the Arizona-Mexico border near Naco by reporting illegals to the Border Patrol as they crossed into the United States.
Their goal was to show that increased manpower on the border would effectively deter illegal immigration. Organizers said the protest resulted in Border Patrol arrests of 349 illegal aliens.
Area residents, in a half-page ad in the Sunday edition of the Sierra Vista Herald, told the volunteers: “Thanks for doing what our government won’t — close the border to illegal aliens. It was the quietest month we’ve had in many years ... You made us feel safe because the border was closed.”
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said yesterday that he has not seen the Bush administration make progress on U.S.-Mexico border security and that is why he declared an emergency in four border counties this week.
“I respectfully disagree with the Department of Homeland Security. The border in New Mexico is porous,” Mr. Richardson said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “I don’t see the dramatic progress they are citing in my border, and that’s why I acted.”
On Aug. 12, Mr. Richardson announced an emergency, and last week, fellow Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona followed suit. The declarations will allow more state money to be spent on policing along the border.
The two governors’ moves have kick-started a political debate about whether Democrats have found a way to run to the right of Republicans on immigration security. It also highlighted the role of border state officials in pushing federal lawmakers to act on an issue that seems to be galvanizing voters more than it is gaining attention in Congress.
“It’s a very charged political issue. But that doesn’t mean you leave states like Arizona and New Mexico and California and Texas defenseless,” Mr. Richardson said on “Fox News Sunday.”
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman could not be reached yesterday, but during the past week, department officials and spokesmen said increased problems along New Mexico’s 180-mile border with Mexico were a result of better enforcement in Arizona.
By declaring a state of emergency, Miss Napolitano made $1.5 million available to local police in Arizona, while Mr. Richardson promised $1.75 million for local police in the four New Mexico counties and to set up a field office for the state’s Office of Homeland Security.
Mr. Richardson called on Mexico to bulldoze Las Chepas, a border town in Mexico that he said was abandoned and now serves as a staging area for drug- and immigrant-smugglers.
He also said Congress must enact an immigration policy that would create a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, although he said he does not consider that amnesty because they would have to live here legally for some time and pay a fine in order to get citizenship.
Immigration is shaping up to be a big issue in the 2008 presidential primaries, with Mr. Richardson considered a potential Democratic candidate. On the Republican side, two likely candidates — Sen. George Allen of Virginia and Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — took opposing sides in the debate over a guest-worker program.
Mr. Hagel said he will soon introduce a bill that would offer illegal aliens a path to citizenship, arguing that there is no other way to make the aliens come forward and identify themselves.
Mr. Allen, meanwhile, endorsed the bill from Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona, which would allow illegal aliens to live and work legally for up to five years before forcing them to return home, where they could apply for a guest-worker program or join the wait for a green card.
Polls show the vast majority of voters oppose most plans that appear to reward illegal aliens, which will affect the Democratic candidates as they try to win votes on the issue.
Both Miss Napolitano and Mr. Richardson are up for re-election next year in states where illegal immigration has become a dominant issue. And both have taken stands in the past that put them at odds with immigration-control groups.
In Arizona, Miss Napolitano and most of the state’s other top elected officials, including its bipartisan congressional delegation, opposed a state initiative to deny illegal aliens some state services and make voters show identification at the polls. Despite the opposition, the initiative won with 57% of the vote.
Mr. Richardson yesterday had to defend his approval of a bill allowing illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses in New Mexico.
“Otherwise, they drive uninsured,” he said. “It becomes a safety issue. We want to know where these illegal aliens are and what they want, and we want to know what they’re doing.”
In 2003, Gov. Bill Richardson welcomed a bus caravan of “undocumented workers” — i.e., illegal aliens — traveling through his state on its way to Washington, D.C. He enthused: “Thank you for coming to Santa Fe. Know that New Mexico is your home.”
Turns out that they aren’t so welcome after all. Earlier this month, Richardson became the first of two border-state governors — Arizona Democrat Janet Napolitano quickly joined him — to declare disaster areas on the border, exactly because so many undocumented workers are coming across it. When two savvy Democratic governors spectacularly change their posture on immigration, it’s a sign of a significant political shift — perhaps, finally, public outrage over the out-of-control border is making an impression on the political establishment.
Richardson has been a conventional Democrat on immigration. He signed a bill giving illegal immigrants living in New Mexico in-state tuition at its public colleges. New Mexico is one of the few states in the country that gives driver’s licenses to illegals. Napolitano has been similarly hostile to the enforcement of immigration laws.
There is little sign yet that these newly border-conscious Democrats will actually get tough on illegals. They appear to be trying the Hillary Clinton tack on immigration, which is to sound pro-enforcement while not doing much. Clinton declared at the end of last year, “I am ... adamantly against illegal immigrants.” But John Fund of the Wall Street Journal notes that in a recent speech before the Hispanic group La Raza, the only immigration measures she talked about were in-state tuition for the children of illegals and amnesty for illegal immigrants who graduate from high school in the U.S.
Richardson defends New Mexico’s extended hand to illegals on grounds that the state is “immigrant friendly” and has to be “practical.” What’s impractical is the idea that immigration enforcement can be a matter of simply better policing along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Interior enforcement has to be part of the solution, including a crackdown on employers who hire illegals and steps to signal to illegals that they aren’t welcome here. It is nonsensical to say, as Richardson and Napolitano are in effect saying, “Gee, the border is too porous, but we’re going to give illegals the same privileges as citizens when they get here.”
By rights, Democrats should be the most anti-illegal-immigration of the two parties. The benefits of illegal immigration go disproportionately to employers and people rich enough to hire nannies, pool cleaners, etc. They get to hire low-paid workers with very few rights. The costs fall on minorities and low-skill workers, whose wages are undercut.
Richardson and Napolitano’s looming 2006 reelections surely prompted their border moves. But bad faith has its uses. When Bill Clinton said, during the 1992 presidential campaign, that we should “end welfare as we know it,” he didn’t mean it, but it changed the politics of welfare forever.
Richardson and Napolitano have taken a step toward giving pro-enforcement immigration reformers the whip hand in the debate over the border. In Congress, the debate is divided between those advocating tougher laws and those who want an amnesty and a new temporary-worker program. Even those favoring the latter approach are now calling for a grand bargain including tougher laws. The counteroffer from the pro-enforcement side should be that since there is only a consensus that we need better laws, enforced more thoroughly, that should be the starting point for any reform. Only after serious enforcement has been tried — for the first time in decades — should any amnesty or guest-worker program be considered.
The leader of the pro-enforcement forces should be President Bush. After a brutal year defending an unpopular war and a less popular Social Security initiative, favoring something the public wants — an immigration crackdown — might be what he needs. Of course, that would require Bush, who has been pushing for a quasi-amnesty and a temporary-worker program, to change his tune. But if Richardson and Napolitano can, why can’t he?
— Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.
I’m torn between two symbolic arguments about the future of this country.
Symbolism matters in politics, a lot. That’s why political leaders show their respects to certain creeds and faiths by showing up at churches, synagogues, mosques, ashrams, AIDS clinics, NASCAR races, bratwurst eating contests, and the like. We build monuments and memorials for symbolic reasons. The fight over the confederate flag is a symbolic fight.
In short, I get it. Symbolism is important. But it ain’t everything. If desecrating the America flag is the only way to stop a guy from setting off a bomb, then hasta la vista, Old Glory.
And since we’re speaking Spanish, I guess I should get to my point. On the one hand, I hate the symbolism of building a wall along our southern border. It would be both literally and figuratively ugly. It would change the narrative of this country in a significant way and send a terrible signal to the world of a fortress America. I don’t think that’s the only rational interpretation of such a wall, but few can dispute that’s how it would be received by the rest of the planet (and our own media).
On the other hand, I think the symbolic significance of what’s going on now is destructive and has the potential to poison our politics for a long time to come. Even grade-school textbooks make it clear that a country is defined by its borders. People instinctively understand that a nation that can’t control its borders is a nation that lacks the confidence and will to stand up for its principles. It creates a culture of lawlessness, breeds contempt for lawmakers, and activates some of the baser instincts of the public.
Critics charge that these base instincts — xenophobia, chauvinism, racism — are precisely what motivates people to call for a wall in the first place. I’m sure that’s true for some, but not for everybody. Personally, I have no problem with legal immigration, even very high levels of it.
But my preferred immigration policy is to have one. When you don’t enforce the laws, you are in fact saying that the laws don’t matter. If this country wants 10 million legal immigrants a year, fine. Let’s have 10 million. But not 10 million legals and 3 or 4 million illegals as well. No line jumpers. Period.
Working on the fairly reasonable — but not definite — assumption that a wall would actually work, one benefit would be that these emotional reactions would subside. But if every politician and movement in America that calls for taking illegal immigration seriously is reflexively denounced as “anti-immigration,” never mind racist, then you won’t get rid of those sentiments, you’ll feed them. In other words, if you don’t have a reasonable “anti” immigration movement, you will get an unreasonable one. That’s what’s happening in parts of Europe.
Opponents rightly say you don’t need a wall if you simply enforce the laws we have now. O.K. But there’s very little reason to believe that moment is just around the corner. They sound like the guys watching Noah load the ark, saying, “All that work will be unnecessary once the rain stops.” And, whenever politicians suggest actually doing that, many of the same critics object to that symbolism as well. Indeed, enforcing the laws by placing thousands of armed men — troops, in effect — along the U.S. border isn’t a great look, either. And, historically, troops on the border is a bigger provocation than concrete.
Meanwhile, the Republicans, caving to the business lobby, take the lead opposing a better solution: vigorous prosecution of businesses who hire illegals. If either party were serious about enforcing any of those laws, a wall would be unnecessary.
A wall would not in any sense be “unfair” to Mexicans any more than locks on your windows are unfair to people who want to break into your house and sleep on your couch. A wall would simply put Mexico — and the more than 100,000 “other than Mexicans” who cross our southern border — at the same “disadvantage” as would-be immigrants from Nigeria and New Zealand. They’d have to fill out a form and wait in line.
It feels unserious to say this is ultimately all about symbolism, but that’s where I come down. I think the economic arguments on both sides are usually unpersuasive. Paying busboys $10 an hour, one probable upshot of a complete halt to illegal immigration, isn’t major progress in my book. And its hard to take liberals seriously when they complain about the costs of a wall — estimates vary from $15 to $30 billion — when they regularly champion other grandiose public works projects. Clearly the cost isn’t their real objection.
So here I am torn between two bad symbols. Everyone likes to quote Robert Frost’s line that “good fences make good neighbors.” But they leave out the opening line from the same poem, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” That sums up my continental divide.
Immigration has long been the great sleeper issue in American politics, with two-thirds of the voters wanting less of it and the political and business elites wanting a great deal more. Time and again it has looked likely to break through this bipartisan barrier into public debate. On each occasion, however, the elites have suppressed any stirrings of public opposition — until the last few weeks.
Over that period, the following events have occurred:
One. Leading Democrats with serious political ambitions — Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, and Hillary Clinton (no additional identification necessary) — have all expressed concern about border security, illegal immigration, and the social costs that immigration imposes. Napolitano declared a state of emergency in border counties hit hard by illegals, and Richardson praised as “patriots” the Minutemen watching the border (President Bush had damned them as “vigilantes”).
Two. Working behind the scenes, the White House has helped set up a new bipartisan coalition to push for more open immigration. It will be headed jointly by two former congressmen (one Republican, one Democrat); organized by a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie; and funded to the tune of between $50,000 and $250,000 by corporations such as Wal-Mart. It is to be called “Americans for Border and Economic Security” (or ABES) and it is meant to soften up public opinion on behalf of the president’s immigration reforms.
Three. Two immigration bills — the McCain-Kennedy bill and the Cornyn-Kyl bill — have been put before the Senate. They differ, but both are designed to advance the president’s immigration agenda. Both offer limited amnesties to the illegal aliens already in the U.S. and propose guest-worker programs that would admit into the U.S. anyone with a job offer from an American employer. This liberalization is hedged about with safeguards, but it amounts to stopping illegal immigration by the simple device of making it legal.
Four. Finally, writers previously known for their fervent enthusiasm for more or less open immigration — Tamar Jacoby in The Weekly Standard, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, and David Brooks in the New York Times — have suddenly reinvented themselves as “realistic” immigration reformers. They are worried that immigration laws are routinely flouted and call for a balanced response to this illegality. This balance turns out to be legalizing illegals already here (maybe with fines and waiting periods to show we mean business), having a guest-worker program that would admit new immigrants in line with business demand, and then cracking down on border security. Exactly why we would need a border crackdown when almost anyone could come here quite legally is an unanswered question; presumably this measure is included to soothe the American people into going along with a program that is otherwise simply a program for more immigration.
THE BUSH GAMBIT
Why has the sleeping dog of immigration suddenly woken up? To be sure, public concern over the social costs of illegal immigration is rising, especially in border states. But both the costs and the concern have been rising for two decades. Democrats can see that the GOP is vulnerable, especially in its core southern-white-male vote, over the low-wage competition posed by illegal immigration. Again, however, the GOP has been vulnerable in this way for several decades. Indeed, all the risks and dangers of uncontrolled immigration have been visible for some time. What has changed is that whereas previously the political elites were content to do nothing about it — in effect, to legalize it by stealth — the president has decided to legalize it openly and above board.
That immediately raised its salience. The public was outraged; the Democrats saw an opportunity; the GOP fell into despair; the White House had to scramble to reverse the trends of public opinion; and the intellectuals had to sing a more complicated song or be hissed off the stage. In short, Bush and the immigration issue are rather like Albert and the Lion in that once famous comic recitation about a young lad visiting the Blackpool zoo who, disappointed that the sleeping lion (Wallace by name) lacked animation, decided to intervene: “So straight’way the brave little fellow, / Not showing a morsel of fear, / Took his stick with its horse’s head handle, / And pushed it in Wallace’s ear. / You could see that the lion didn’t like it . . .”
To cut a long recitation short, the lion eats Albert. Will the immigration issue now devour Bush — or the GOP after Bush? The omens are somewhat less than favorable. To begin with, immigration rests on a major fault line in the GOP. One of the lobbyists wooed by the White House for ABES, Craig Regelbrugge, put it very crisply: “You’re never going to please them all . . . But the party’s going to have to choose between the closed-minded restrictionists and the business base . . . Who’s really the base of the base? Farmers and business people or the others?” Unfortunately for Regelbrugge, the correct answer would almost certainly not please him. About three-quarters of Republican supporters are opposed to the Bush immigration program. And even the most expensive public-relations campaign is unlikely to change minds that are shaped by personal experience and daily headlines in the local press. So if the president forges ahead on this issue, he is likely to alienate “the base of the base.”
Some of that base, mainly blue-collar workers, may go over to Democrats like Richardson who are making (insincere) restrictionist noises. More will likely opt out of politics altogether from a sense of disgust at the GOP’s placing the short-term interests of corporate America in low wages over national security and the economic prospects of poorer Americans. Since the GOP’s margin of victory at the last election was a mere 3%, even small defections could be very significant. But the real kicker is that Bush may not even hold on to those voters and corporations that approve of his immigration reforms. For he is being ambitiously outflanked on that front by Senator John McCain.
Of the two bills before Congress, the McCain-Kennedy bill is inevitably the more liberal. Cornyn-Kyl has its defects, as NR has pointed out, but it is a serious attempt to restore order to immigration. It insists that illegals must return home in order to be legalized, and it grants no green card to guest-workers. McCain-Kennedy by contrast allows illegals to stay in the U.S. in return for paying a $2,000 fine (and all back taxes) and, after six years, to become eligible for a green card (i.e., the right of permanent residency). Since $2,000 is well below the world market value of U.S. citizenship, this is less a punishment than a cut-price offer. It would actually be an incentive for more illegals to cross the border in time to benefit from its passage.
As a political calculation, however, it is clever. McCain long ago lost any chance of winning those voters for whom lower immigration is an important issue. Indeed, it is in his interest that they should not participate in Republican primaries. Some moderate and independent voters, however, will see his cooperation with Teddy Kennedy as a praiseworthy rebellion against the nativist Right. And those corporations seeking cheap labor, according to the L.A. Times, already prefer McCain’s bill to the more restrictive Cornyn-Kyl — and are therefore undecided about joining ABES unless Bush comes up with an equally liberal proposal. McCain-Kennedy might therefore achieve two objectives dear to McCain’s heart: outbidding Bush by passing a more grandiose version of the president’s program, and laying the foundation for a new and more centrist GOP that would nominate him in 2008.
This is a clever calculation but hardly a brilliant one, since such a party would probably lose the subsequent general election. It would be assembled, after all, around a policy disliked by two-thirds of all voters and three-quarters of center-right ones. Where Bush was inadvertently driving away the GOP base, McCain would be doing so with calculated deliberation. But it’s still spinach and most voters would say “to hell with it.”
A BOLDER POLICY
And that’s the flaw in all the immigration proposals now under discussion. They propose to legalize illegal immigration, to make legal immigration easier and simpler, and to admit more immigrants overall — when the American people plainly want to move in the opposite direction on all fronts. Tamar Jacoby, speaking for the new “realists,” proposes to square this circle as follows: “Expand legal channels in order to get control? Yes, it’s counterintuitive, but it isn’t as illogical as it sounds. Given our economy’s deep and increasing dependence on foreign workers, we will never get a grip if we continue to pretend they aren’t coming . . . Of course, we will need to make sure that foreigners use these new legal channels and no others. Once we replace our old unrealistic quotas with a more realistic guest-worker program, we will need to enforce it to the letter . . .”
Alas, this new realism is utopian on almost every point. Two previous amnesties were based on exactly the same trade-off as Jacoby advocates. And since the 1986 amnesty, the U.S. has been admitting about a million new legal immigrants annually. But the illegal immigrants did not stop coming, mechanisms of enforcement atrophied, and we ended up with 11 million illegals. The reason is not obscure: Legal immigrants, far from being a substitute for illegals, are a magnet for them. They form communities that welcome illegals from home, shelter them, find jobs for them, and provide a sea in which they swim undetected. Hence, legal and illegal immigration tend to rise in unison unless there are sharp disincentives for illegal entry. Jacoby says she would enforce such disincentives. If it would be unrealistic to deport the illegal immigrants here now, however, why would it suddenly become possible on the day after a guest-worker program came in? The truth is that such reasoning is like the psychology of the alcoholic — it will be easy to give up the hard stuff tomorrow when I make an entirely new start. In fact it will be harder to enforce deportation when large numbers of new immigrants are pouring in legally. It will seem pointless to the enforcement authorities; some employers will still prefer cheaper illegals over expensive legals; and immigrant lawyers and pressure groups opposing enforcement will have greater political clout. And as Mark Krikorian points out in the following article, the enforcement mechanisms of both proposed bills are exercises in bureaucratic utopianism. They give government tasks that could not be performed with ten times the officials and resources it is likely to have. These are laws that would be literally unenforceable if passed. It would be far easier and genuinely more realistic to make the legal climate more discouraging to illegals by firmly, gradually, and relentlessly enforcing the current law — on deportation among other things. We do not need massive new immigration to do this.
The underlying problem is that the new realists see massive new immigration as unavoidable: “Given our economy’s deep and increasing dependence on foreign workers,” etc., etc. These views are rooted in an economic misunderstanding of immigration. Thomas Sowell, for instance, has recently pointed out that the idea that immigrants are needed to do jobs that Americans won’t do is economics without the price mechanism. If the price of such jobs were higher, Americans would do them; but the price is kept down by the availability of immigrants willing to work for less. Other such fallacies — that immigration is necessary for American prosperity, that it benefits Americans substantially, that it is needed to support Social Security, and so on — were exploded 13 years ago when NR published Peter Brimelow’s article, “Time to Re-Think Immigration” and sparked the current debate on immigration. Mr. Brimelow and NR have since quarreled, but we stand by those arguments. We have repeated them down the years. Almost all the academic work since then (by, among others, NR contributor George Borjas) has confirmed Brimelow’s principal themes and undermined the economic fallacies underpinning the Bush proposals. A British academic survey of recent research on immigration by two Oxbridge professors, an economist and a demographer, concluded coolly: “The claim that U.S. prosperity has been driven by immigration, as opposed to driving it, appears to lack any academic support.”
In a saner world, the elites would take account of these arguments. But the evidence is that Bush, McCain, and the GOP establishment have an almost religious attachment to open-borders immigration that is impervious to rational demonstration. They are on a collision course with the American people. Will the GOP be broken in the crash?
The peaceful suburbs of Washington, D.C., are beginning to look and feel like East Los Angeles. The violent illegal alien gang Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13) has thoroughly penetrated the region — and its murderous members continue to be aided and abetted by reckless government officials at every level who refuse to enforce our immigration laws.
As I’ve reported over the past year, MS-13 is the most notorious criminal alien gang enterprise on the American landscape. The Justice Department’s (belated) summer crackdown on the crime racket has resulted in the arrest of 515 MS-13 gang members who will be prosecuted for criminal cases and/or deported (many after having re-entered the country illegally despite multiple convictions and deportations).
At the local malls in Montgomery County, Md., where I live, gang stabbings are increasingly common. Earlier this summer, a spate of knifing attacks involving reputed MS-13 gangsters took place at a nearby Target store. Yes, Target — where the only fights that shoppers should have to worry about are the tug-of-war spats between soccer moms battling over Sonia Kashuk makeup bags on sale in Aisle 2.
MS-13 thugs are packing weapons far more lethal than blush brushes. The El Salvador-based syndicate has a special love affair with machetes. Earlier this month, a jury convicted one MS-13 member for a machete attack at a Fairfax County, Va., movie theater. The brutal crime left a rival gang member with three severed fingers. If MS-13 limited its violence to killing off its competitors, maybe the rest of us could afford to shrug off the illegal alien gang takeover of the mid-Atlantic corridor. But innocents from Boston to Raleigh have been caught up in the violence, and cops are in the crosshairs as well.
Last year, area law enforcement officials issued a warning that MS-13 was planning to ambush Montgomery County, Md., cops during service calls. In June, I obtained leaked unclassified intelligence from the Federal Bureau of Investigations-Norfolk, Va., division reporting on a similar gang order issued in the Tidewater, Va., area:
“Reporting by a reliable Norfolk source indicates MS-13 members are planning to randomly attack local law enforcement officers in the Tidewater area. Threats of this nature have been termed by gang members as ‘green light’ notices. Green light notices have continued to increase, prompting the Virginia Gang Association to issue warnings to law enforcement in Virginia and the surrounding states. . . . Additional source information indicates local MS-13 members are equipped with weapons and ballistic vests.”
The gang is also infamous for “green lighting” potential prosecution witnesses, including Brenda Paz — an MS-13 member stabbed to death and dumped in the Shenandoah River in 2003 by gangsters while under federal protection as she prepared to testify against them.
Federal prosecutors earned praise last week for dramatic raids and grand jury indictments against 19 alleged, suburban Washington-area MS-13 members accused of participating in the beating death of a man at a cemetery; a drive-by shooting that killed a boy; the kidnapping of two girls, one of whom was murdered; a daytime shooting at a high school; and stabbings and fatal shootings of rival gang members, according to The Washington Post. The feds are using racketeering laws to target the criminals.
The Post editorial board lauded the move (“not a moment to soon,” they opined), but using RICO laws against MS-13 is a rather convoluted solution to our underlying homeland security problems: unguarded borders, lack of illegal alien detention space, failure to track criminal illegal aliens, and a deportation system in shambles. On these matters, the Post — like most mainstream media heavyweights and Beltway elites — has little if anything to say.
And here, as elsewhere, while politicians pay lip service to protecting the public, they look the other way as illegal alien gang members get driver’s licenses, go to school (where they freely recruit new members), and congregate at taxpayer-subsidized illegal alien day labor centers — where local police are discouraged from inquiring about immigration status or reporting suspected illegal aliens to the Department of Homeland Security.
Immigration schizophrenia is lethal. It’s spreading. And maybe, soon enough, coming to a Target near you.
President Bush said yesterday that his goal is eventually to expel “every single” illegal alien from the United States as his administration pressed Congress to pass a guest-worker program.
Although conceding that the administration cannot immediately deport the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who are here, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao told Congress that a temporary-worker program would give aliens an incentive to come out of hiding and let them work legally for six years before being forced to return home.
As Mr. Bush signed the homeland security spending bill yesterday, he said Congress should couple a guest-worker plan with increased border security.
“We’re going to get control of our borders,” he said during the signing ceremony in the East Room. “Our goal is clear — to return every single illegal entrant, with no exceptions.”
It was a far cry from the president’s usual rhetoric on illegal immigration, which focuses on the need to reunite families and provide labor for companies. Since taking office, Mr. Bush has called for relaxing rules so that illegals from Mexico can remain in the U.S. to take unpopular jobs.
The sudden hard line comes as Mr. Bush is trying to assuage his conservative political base, much of which is upset over his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Bush said the government has to stop illegal entrance in the first place, needs to improve its ability to catch illegal aliens who have crossed, and must ensure that those who are caught are deported.
But even as he talked tough on illegal immigration, he continued to lobby for a program that would allow foreign workers to legally cross the border to fill U.S. jobs temporarily.
“If an employer has a job that no American is willing to take, we need to find a way to fill that demand by matching willing employers with willing workers from foreign countries on a temporary and legal basis,” he said.
As Mr. Bush was pushing his proposal, though, his nominee to lead the Citizenship and Immigration Services was telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that the agency, which probably would run such a guest-worker program, cannot do it right now.
“The systems that exist right now wouldn’t be able to handle it,” Emilio Gonzalez said, though he added that, if approved, he would take immediate steps to get the agency ready.
The Cabinet secretaries told the panel that deporting 11 million illegal aliens is impractical and too costly.
“I think it would be hugely, hugely difficult to do this,” Mr. Chertoff said. “A lot of these people would not want to be deported. We would have to find them. That would be an enormous expenditure of effort and resources.”
Instead, they said aliens will identify themselves by taking part in the temporary-worker program and that the government then would know who they are and where to find them when their work period ends.
“We would ask them to sign up with a temporary-worker program for three years. They can extend for another three years for a total of six years and at which point we would ask that they return to their home country,” Mrs. Chao said. “They would not have a legal pathway to citizenship.”
The administration previously had said only that the program would be renewable, and hadn’t set a limit on the number of times.
The secretaries said putting in a legal channel for workers would reduce the population of illegal aliens, which would make workplace enforcement and deportation more manageable.
The stance puts the administration on record opposing the bill from Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, that would put illegal aliens on a multistep path to citizenship if they work for a set period and pay a fine.
But the administration’s position is similar to a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona that would create a temporary-worker program and give current illegal aliens five years to leave.
The day marked several reversals for the administration.
For example, Mr. Chertoff said the department can handle training the 1,500 new Border Patrol agents who will be hired in fiscal 2006. Just months ago, when Mr. Bush submitted a request for 210 agents, administration officials said they couldn’t train many more and that the 210 new agents would suffice to gain control over the border.
Also, Mr. Bush acknowledged that the country does not have the resources to detain and deport many of the illegal aliens. Those from countries other than Mexico are released into the U.S. while the deportation case is being decided, but most do not show up for deportation when their case is concluded.
“We capture many more illegal immigrants than we can send home, especially non-Mexicans,” he said. “And one of the biggest reasons for that is we don’t have enough bed space in our detention facilities.”
Mr. Chertoff also promised to streamline the number of days it takes to deport illegal aliens, though he said the administration “will probably have to lean pretty heavily on some foreign governments” to force them to accept illegal aliens it wants to deport.
There’s confusion in Washington about immigration. President Bush added to it Tuesday when he vowed “to return every single illegal entrant, with no exceptions.” We’re mildly encouraged by the appearance of the administration’s change of heart on immigration control, and we hope it’s more than mere appearance. There remains the issue of the president’s “temporary” worker program, which would enable illegal aliens to work in this country legally for six years.
On the one hand, supporters of that program insist, as the president did Tuesday, that the number of illegal aliens already here have reached critical mass. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff echoed the president at a Senate hearing Tuesday, saying what is obvious to everyone, that “illegal immigration threatens our communities and national security.” Securing our borders from illegal entrants — whether cheap laborer or slithering terrorist — should be everybody’s chief concern.
On the other hand, we’re told that in addition to increased border patrol and interior security for catching illegals, we must deal with illegals who are here only to work, hence the worker program. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao described it this way: “We would ask [illegal aliens] to sign up with a temporary-worker program for three years. They can extend for another three years for a total of six years and at which point we would ask that they return to their homes.” We presume the government would ask ever so nicely. Mark Krikorian, executive director at the Center for Immigration Studies, told the panel that “there’s nothing as permanent as a ‘temporary’ worker.” We’re skeptical, and we’ll remain skeptical until we hear persuasive details.
In addition to the 1986 amnesty law, Mr. Krikorian reminded the committee, a “guest/temporary” worker program was tried during World War II to relieve the scarcity of native farm labor. Begun in 1942, the Bracero Program, as it was called, lasted for 22 years because farmers became addicted to the cheap labor. More importantly, illegal “immigration” ballooned during those 22 years for the same reasons illegal immigration is ballooning today: Illegal aliens generally flock to places where they have family. How can the government encourage a “temporary” worker to return home if that worker has children here, children born as American citizens? The answer is that it can’t. We can’t have an effective immigration policy that rewards illegal “immigrants.”
Perhaps this is why Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has said that he will tackle immigration control and security first before debating any guest/temporary worker bill. Separating the two distinct problems will clarify priorities, as well as address the very real concerns of the American public over the flood of illegals inundating our borders.
When supporters of amnesty conflate these two issues, such as the free-market Manhattan Institute did in a recent poll, we naturally get poll numbers supporting amnesty. In this poll, 58% of “likely” Republicans support a legalization plan and 33% favor tightening border security and deporting illegal immigrants. In his letter to the editor, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher rightly scrutinizes this question as a “false choice.” More impressively, 72% favor immigration reform that would create a path to citizenship. But asked which of the included reforms is most persuasive, 32% said “increased border security” and 17% said “tougher penalties” on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Of those opposed to reform, 32% said “path to citizenship” was most persuasive, and 25% said “temporary work visa.”
Congress can debate what to do with the illegal work force in due time. For now, Congress must understand that trying to attach an amnesty proposal onto an enforcement plan would turn the country’s immigration wake-up call into a nightmare. If Mr. Frist and other congressional leaders can put together legislation that secures our borders and answers the question of what to do with illegals once they’re here, then hail to the Hill. But nobody has done that yet, and confusion reigns from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.
by Michael Barone
There is something like 10 million illegal immigrants in the United States today. Most of them are working at jobs with willing employers, or as day laborers, or are the children of such workers.
You can see the day laborers, if you live in a metropolitan area with any economic vibrancy, lined up at 7 a.m. on street corners waiting for the offer of a day’s work. You can see them clustered in those storefront shops offering cheap phone calls to Mexico or El Salvador or the Philippines. Or, if you could go out with the Border Patrol and a pair of night-vision goggles, you could see them in the mountains and valleys and desert floors of Cochise County, Ariz., as they move across the border and head toward booming Phoenix or Las Vegas.
How has this come to be? Before the restrictive immigration laws of the 1920s, almost all immigrants came in boats from Europe and passed through entry stations like Ellis Island — they could be easily kept track of and counted.
We passed restrictive laws after World War I that vastly increased the power of the state, and enforcement proved relatively easy. Now, our borders are porous because people can get in by airplane or on foot. Visa holders can overstay their visas. Whole industries — farming on the West Coast, meatpacking in the Midwest, chicken processing in the South — seem to depend on immigrant labor, and documents can easily be forged.
Critics charge that immigration drives down wages at the low end of the labor market, but the effect seems minimal — anyway, when unemployment is low, it’s not clear that millions of illegal workers could be easily replaced even if employers offered higher wages.
But there is a pretty widespread consensus, in a time when we are threatened by terrorism, that border security can and should be improved. The fence built in San Diego and increased border patrolling around El Paso, Texas, reduced the illegal inflow there, and it increased in the Arizona desert. With our high-tech capabilities, we surely should be able to do better than we are now. And there are surely better ways to keep track of visa holders.
There is less consensus on what should be done about illegals currently in the United States. In his 2000 campaign, George W. Bush called for a guest- worker program, allowing illegals to legalize their status. Many other Republicans, the loudest of them Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, have said that this amounts to amnesty and would reward those who broke the law.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is busy ending our “catch and release” program. But Bush and Congress have not done much on new immigration legislation until this year. The guest-worker issue splits Republicans, and Democrats are not unified on it, either.
Some Democrats who favor guest workers are leery about what they consider overly harsh border security and reporting requirements. But as private citizens who call themselves Minutemen have taken to patrolling the Arizona border, and as the Democratic governors of Arizona and New Mexico have called for tougher border enforcement, pressure on Congress to act is enormous.
For several months, there have been White House meetings with members of Congress, including Democrats, on immigration. Now, the talk is that the House will take up the issue in December and pass a tough border security bill, which will probably be backed by all Republicans and many Democrats, and that the Senate will take up that issue and also consider the vying guest-worker bills early next year.
Republicans Jon Kyl and John Cornyn are sponsoring a bill that would require current illegals to return to their native countries before receiving temporary guest-worker permits. John McCain and Edward Kennedy are sponsoring a bill that would allow them to apply to regularize their status while remaining in the United States.
If the Senate passes a bill — a big if — the issue would go to conference committee. Republican leaders in Congress and the administration hope that a conference committee version with both border security and guest worker provisions can be jammed through the House, which will take some Democratic as well as Republican votes.
Passage in the Senate should be easier. But there’s still a lot of hard work to be done before an immigration bill gets to Bush’s desk.
WHEN PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNED THE Homeland Security Appropriations Act six weeks ago, he did it in the East Room of the White House in a glossy ceremony befitting an occasion of Republican unity. Which is what it was, right up to the moment when Bush started talking about illegal immigrants. “They want to provide for their families,” he said sympathetically. “Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming to put food on the table.” He went on to plug his proposal for a “guest worker” program to allow illegals, in the United States or abroad, to work here and even stay permanently. A number of Republicans at the event were furious. They want to secure America’s southern border tightly. But Bush’s ideas about turning unlawful immigrants into American citizens are anathema to them.
So the Republican rift on immigration endures. Ten days before the ceremony, 82 House Republicans had written the president, urging him to push for immigration legislation to beef up border security—but nothing more. Bush’s comments at the signing ceremony amounted to a flat rejection of their appeal. Indeed, the president begins a public campaign this week to take on the entire immigration issue—the border, the need for foreign workers, the 11 million illegal immigrants already living here—all at once.
It’s an ambitious undertaking, especially for a president suffering from a dip in popularity and influence. And there are many obstacles to success in the House and the Senate. Still, achieving comprehensive immigration reform is possible.
Bush will need a few breaks and a few new allies. But the good news is that he has a strategy.
Imagine what finally dealing boldly with America’s immigration problem could do. Slashing the number of border crossings by illegal immigrants would be only the first step. A guest worker program would provide a lawful way for illegals to work here, solving a job crisis for American business and potentially reducing the incentive for illegal entry. The most difficult part would be creating a path to citizenship for those who came to the United States illegally but before a cutoff date.
For Republicans, immigration reform could be a saving issue in the 2006 midterm election. With Social Security reform off the table for now, immigration is America’s most urgent domestic problem. And if handled sensitively, it would not reverse the drift of Hispanic voters to the Republican party. Democrats, of course, may try to disrupt Bush’s efforts, as they tried in 2003 when he won a Medicare prescription drug benefit. But since his ideas on immigration are close to theirs, they’re more likely to go along.
Two decades ago, immigration reform failed, at least in blocking illegal immigration. It lacked a safety valve for illegals—a guest worker program—and its aftermath was marked by inadequate border security and lax enforcement of the law barring employers from hiring illegals.
To succeed this time, Bush and his congressional allies will have to pull off an unlikely three-cushion shot and overcome several challenges along the way. The president will have to exert public and private pressure. Two Republicans will have to step up as leaders—Senator John Cornyn of Texas and James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. And the entire effort will have to be carried out in the politically safe context of tightening America’s southern border.
The easiest part will come this year as the House passes a tough border security measure with the president’s support. That’s the first cushion. The bill will call for the erection of a wall in urban areas (as is already the case in San Diego), the planting of sensors and barriers in other areas, more border guards, additional detention facilities, and other steps.
Things get trickier at the second cushion—the Senate in 2006. Majority Leader Bill Frist advocates a “build out” on top of border security. This would mean adding a guest worker program and addressing the issue of illegal immigrants living in the United States. Frist is wary of relying on Democratic votes. His minimum requirement is that a majority of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee vote for the measures.
This makes Cornyn an important player. Elected in 2002, he emerged quickly as an influential senator and leader of conservative Republicans with close ties to the president. And as a native of San Antonio, he has a deep interest in immigration. But to become the pivotal senator on immigration, he will have to back a compromise and persuade other conservative senators to follow his lead. At the moment, Cornyn supports the requirement that guest workers return home after their work is finished. Bush, Republicans such as Senator John McCain of Arizona, and most Democrats oppose that. They would give workers the right to stay and seek citizenship. And their support is crucial to ultimate passage.
Dealing with the fate of the 11 million illegals currently residing in the United States is even more difficult. The Senate initially must decide to include them in the immigration bill. Then, senators must reach agreement on a cutoff date, after which illegal immigrants will not be eligible for citizenship. Finally, they must choose the tests—such as employment, fluency in English, a willingness to be fingerprinted, and payment of back taxes—that illegals seeking citizenship must pass. Here again, Cornyn could be the key figure.
Once a comprehensive immigration bill clears the Senate, it reaches the third cushion in the House. At this point, Sensenbrenner becomes important. For reform to succeed, he will have to go along with a full-scale immigration bill, and then, after it’s approved by the conference, support it aggressively. Speaker Denny Hastert is said to favor the comprehensive approach, a boon to final House passage. But he isn’t likely to proceed unless a majority of House Republicans back the bill.
Throughout the process, the president will have to be prominently involved. His clout on Capitol Hill may be diminished, but it’s far from nonexistent. In particular, he has to steer Republicans away from adding two provisions that would anger Hispanic Americans and endanger their inclination to vote Republican. One egregious scheme would be to try to repeal birthright citizenship. The other would be to unleash state and local police to hunt for illegals in Hispanic neighborhoods.
Might all this turn out to be a fantasy, nothing more than presidential or Republican self-delusion? Could be. The odds on achieving total immigration reform next year are not great. Given that, the White House is ready to accept a border security bill alone in 2006 and seek a guest worker program and a citizenship plan for illegal immigrants in 2007. But that would deprive the measure of the cover of enhancing border security and make passage all the more difficult. So it’s not now or never for real immigration reform, just now or maybe never.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
The late Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it “boob bait for bubba” — tough-sounding rhetoric designed to placate conservative voters. Moynihan applied the phrase to Bill Clinton’s 1992 pledge to “end welfare as we know it,” which it later became clear that he had no intention of following through on when he became president (eventually, Republicans pressured him into it). President Bush is offering his own “boob bait” in the form of speechifying at the border about a crackdown on illegal immigration.
It’s not that Bush doesn’t intend to use better technology to police the border and end the “catch and release” policy that waves illegals into the country, as he is now saying. But these steps are primarily meant to diminish opposition to a new guest-worker program and what would effectively be an amnesty for illegal aliens. It’s a crackdown as prelude to a letup; in other words, Rove bait for red-staters.
A Republican close to the White House has told Time how Bush wants to lull his conservative supporters into swallowing some sort of amnesty and a guest-worker program, i.e., a “comprehensive” approach: “Bush decided to give these guys their rhetorical pound of flesh. In return, he wants a comprehensive bill, which is what he has always wanted. He’s just going to lead with a lot of noise about border security.”
The idea is that the House, where conservatives have the most sway, will pass a bill with new enforcement measures, only to see the Senate pass a different bill with an amnesty and guest-worker program, which will be shoved down the throats of the House on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Supporters of tougher enforcement will have gotten their “noise,” and Bush and the business lobby will have gotten their policy. Unfortunately for this strategy, conservatives aren’t nearly as stupid as the White House political shop apparently thinks they are.
If the policy debate plays out the way the White House wants, we will have another iteration of a bizarre dynamic of American politics. Every time there is agitation about out-of-control levels of immigration, Washington acts — to preserve or increase current levels of immigration. As Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies notes, this is what happened in 1986, 1990, and 1996. The White House and the Senate want 2006 to be Act IV in the farce. Senator Arlen Specter’s version of “reform” doubles legal immigration.
The enforcement measures Bush is advocating are welcome and he finally seems to get the public’s dismay about the lawlessness of our immigration system. But the border itself is in some ways beside the point. We can put as many agents as the Minutemen could possibly want on the border and still have an illegal-immigration problem. 40% of illegals overstay their visas, meaning the border isn’t an issue for them. Bush and fellow supporters of a guest-worker program are right about one thing: As long as there are jobs here for illegals, they will come.
The only way to address that is through interior enforcement, which Bush made a nod toward yesterday. The natural place to start is enforcing laws already on the books. Rosemary Jenks of the group NumbersUSA has compiled a partial list of currently unenforced laws that runs to four pages. The Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service have it within their power to inform employers when they have hired illegal workers, but don’t. In 2002, the Social Security Administration sent out roughly a million “no match” letters to employers telling them workers had bogus or duplicate Social Security numbers, but business groups complained and the practice stopped.
Supporters of amnesty always ask the rhetorical question: “What are you going to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants already here — deport them all?” That is obviously impractical, but requiring employers to verify that their workers are legal would prompt many illegals to leave voluntarily and staunch the flow of new arrivals. Only after our immigration system is under better control should we discuss Bush’s proposed guest-worker program and any kind of amnesty for those illegals who are entrenched in our society. Until then, don’t take Bush’s bait.
by Linda Chavez
President Bush is deeply committed to immigration reform, an issue on which he clearly hoped to establish a lasting legacy when he came into office five years ago. As the former governor of a border state, Bush had real-world experience dealing with the flow of immigrants into this country — legal and illegal — and recognized both the benefits and challenges these groups present. But his efforts to enact sweeping changes in our laws that would have opened our doors to more much-needed workers, thereby reducing the flow of illegal immigrants, was derailed first by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and then by rebellion within his own party. This week Bush tried once again to jump-start an immigration reform agenda, but it remains to be seen whether he can overcome the opposition of those who simply want to shut our borders.
Speaking at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside Tucson, Ariz., the president tried to strike a balance between being tough on illegal immigration while encouraging changes in the law that would allow more people to come here legally. It’s the right approach, but not necessarily one that will convince his critics on the right. Bush promised to add more border patrol agents, build physical barriers where feasible, return Mexican illegal aliens to their hometowns when apprehended (rather than sending them just across the border), and end the policy of “catch and release,” which allows most non-Mexican illegal immigrants who are captured to avoid detention altogether. He also promised better internal border enforcement, with increased emphasis on punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. These measures are good ideas in their own right, but they will only have an incremental effect at reducing illegal immigration unless Congress enacts a guest worker program and expanded legal immigration, as the president also outlined. Yet many of those who scream the loudest about stopping illegal immigration want no part of the latter, especially if it allows illegal aliens currently in the country to participate.
In the early 1990s I had a conversation with Peter Brimelow, author of “Alien Nation” and one of the staunchest immigration critics. “You know, Linda,” he said, in his charming British accent that betrays his own foreign roots, “we could end illegal immigration at once if we enacted a program that made all the illegals guest workers.” Today, I suspect, Brimelow and others would attack such a plan as amnesty. But until we figure out what to do with the 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens already living in the United States, we won’t have solved the illegal immigrant problem. Creating a guest worker program, which allows workers to come to the United States for a specified period and then return home, will help curb future illegal immigration, but unless those already here can earn the right to participate, we’ll still have a problem. And there’s the rub.
Some people seem to think we can just round them all up and send them home. “Get these people out of my country and my state and my face,” read one of the many e-mails I’ve received lately on the subject. “I will gladly exchange a lower rate of economic growth if necessary just to get the return of America. I am now a one-issue voter and have made that clear to all [Republican] fundraisers. I am confident that there are many more like me out there who are not xenophobic — just fed up,” the man wrote. Polls suggest that only about 10% of voters feel similarly, but that’s a large enough voting bloc to cause problems for the president’s plan. The irony is, these voters may be the real impediment to solving the problem of illegal immigration.
Mass deportations won’t — and shouldn’t — happen. The legal, moral and practical obstacles to rounding up and deporting millions of illegal aliens and their U.S.-citizen children are insurmountable. Nor is it feasible to station enough agents along the border or build a barrier long and high enough to keep out everyone. I once stood at the border between East and West Germany with its barbed wire, mines, and sentry posts with soldiers aiming high-powered rifles. Is that really the America we want to create?
Despite tougher border scrutiny after 9/11, a total of 7.9 million immigrants have come to the USA since 2000, more than in any other five-year period in the nation’s history, figures released Monday show.
Almost half, or 3.7 million, entered illegally, according to an analysis of Census data by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., group that advocates controlling the flow of legal and illegal immigrants.
The report comes as a heated immigration debate looms this week in Congress. The House is expected to tackle a Republican bill that aims to strengthen border security and increase penalties for illegal immigration. An estimated 11 million immigrants live illegally in the USA.
The nation’s immigrant population hit a record 35.2 million in March 2005, 2½ times the number at the peak of the last great immigration wave of 1910, says Steven Camarota, author of the report. Immigrants make up 12.1% of the U.S. population, compared with 14.7% in 1910, the report says.
The analysis shows that 31% of adult immigrants have not completed high school. A third lack health insurance.
The findings raise serious policy questions, Camarota says: “Does it make sense to bring in so many people with relatively little education? What do we do about illegals? Do we let them stay? Do we give them green cards?”
Jeffrey Passel, demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, a research group, says the data lump legal and illegal immigrants, which skews achievement numbers.
“To conclude that our legal immigration is somehow admitting the wrong people is a leap of faith,” he says. “The legal immigrants who’ve come in the last 10 years are better educated than the legal immigrants who came before.”
The report also confirms that immigrants are headed to more states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Immigration is “starting to have a bigger impact on more states while it continues to have a very big impact on traditional immigrant magnets such as California,” says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
Without question, the war in Iraq is still viewed by most Americans as the single most important issue facing the country, but a new survey indicates immigration could emerge as a defining issue for the next administration.
The war on terror and its most visible face, the ongoing military and political campaign to establish a Mideast foothold for democracy in Baghdad, is viewed as the dominant issue for some 54% of Americans, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll.
But, the survey says, nearly one-third of those questioned – 29% – believe immigration, not Iraq, is a more important voting issue.
“That’s … remarkably high for an issue that both major political parties have generally avoided,” said the Rasmussen survey.
In addition, there is a wide political chasm separating the issue.
“Democrats overwhelmingly say Iraq is the most important issue. 71% of Howard Dean’s party hold that view while only 15% name immigration as more important,” said Rasmussen.
By comparison, “Republicans are evenly divided – 42% say immigration is a more important issue while 41% name Iraq.”
And of those who say they are not affiliated with either major party, 47% named Iraq the most important, while 30% said immigration.
A majority – 58% – think the United States should build a barrier the length of its border with Mexico, but support dwindles when the term “barrier” is replaced by “wall.”
Also, more than half of those surveyed, or 54%, held a favorable view of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group of volunteers organized to stand watch along segments of the U.S.-Mexico border and report illegal immigration to the U.S. Border Patrol.
In a separate Rasmussen survey, three-quarters of Americans said they believe it is far too easy for people from other countries to enter the U.S.
The telephone survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Dec. 9-10. Thirty-seven% of survey respondents were Republican, 37% Democrat and 26% were unaffiliated.
Mexico canceled plans yesterday to distribute 70,000 border maps with safety instructions and tips to migrants aiming to cross illegally into the United States, but denied that the decision was a reaction to criticism by Bush-administration officials.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Mexico City said it “rethought” the decision after human rights organizations in several border states said the maps would show anti-immigration groups — and watchdogs such as the Minutemen volunteers — where the migrants were likely to travel.
The NHRC maps would have provided details to migrants about the terrain, cell-phone coverage and the location of water stations set up by the U.S. charity Humane Borders.
“This would be practically like telling the Minutemen where the migrants are going to be,” said NHRC spokesman Miguel Angel Paredes. “We are going to rethink this, so that we wouldn’t almost be handing them over to groups that attack migrants.”
Much of the Mexican media have accused the Minutemen of attacking illegal aliens on the border, accusations that have not been substantiated and have been denied by Minutemen organizers. The Mexican government has described the volunteers as vigilantes, as has President Bush.
Mr. Paredes said the commission’s decision was not a response to U.S. pressure, adding, “We have not taken that into account.”
On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the department opposed “in the strongest terms” the publications of maps “to aid those who wish to enter the United States illegally. ... It is a bad idea to encourage migrants to undertake this highly dangerous and ultimately futile effort.”
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also said the United States would “take whatever steps it deems necessary to protect its own borders.”
The NHRC had planned to distribute 70,000 maps beginning in March, mostly in border towns and villages, as well as bars and restaurants frequented by migrants. The commission said they were intended to save lives by noting the estimated time it would take to walk or drive to nearby cities, places where migrants have died in the past and the location of water stations and emergency beacons.
Hundreds of migrants, mostly Mexican nationals, die every year trying to cross the desert illegally into the United States, mostly through Arizona.
The NHRC cited the Minutemen as a sign that anti-immigrant extremism was on the rise in the United States. The civilian Minutemen group set up observation posts in Arizona in April and from California to Texas in October to report illegal aliens to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox said the NHRC’s decision demonstrated the effectiveness of the “peaceful, law-abiding actions by Minuteman volunteers” to secure the nation’s borders.
“The Mexican government ought to be ashamed that their policies drive their citizens to risk death in the Arizona desert trying to escape their country,” he said. “Rather than giving away maps to help their citizens flee, the government of Mexico should dedicate itself to making Mexico a country their citizens can be proud of and want to live in.”
Mr. Simcox denied accusations that Minutemen had attacked anyone, instead pointing to life-saving rescues by the group of nearly 200 aliens abandoned in the desert by human traffickers.
“The maps the Mexican government released will still be used by the Minutemen to determine where we set up our observation posts along the southern U.S. border,” he said. “Those maps are not just aids for illegal aliens simply seeking to escape Mexico; they are also road maps for terrorists who seek to enter the United States to murder Americans.”
The NHRC was created 17 years ago by the Mexican Interior Ministry as the General Human Rights Department. The name was changed a year later and in 1999, the NHRC became fully independent of the government.
by Phyllis Schlafly
The conservative movement that elected Ronald Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush once, and George W. Bush II twice, is essentially a movement of grass-rooters who don’t like to take orders from the top and who revolt when they believe they are betrayed or bossed by those they elected. That’s why the grass roots abandoned the first George Bush when he reneged on his “no new taxes, read my lips” promise.
The tough political tactics used by union bosses and Democratic machine bosses simply don’t sit well with conservative Republicans.
Resentment against the current Bush administration is still festering about the combination of threats and bribes that pushed through close votes in Congress to pass the costly Medicare prescription drug bill in 2003 and Central American Trade Agreement in 2004.
Maybe the intra-party divisions between fiscal vs. Big Government conservatives that lay behind the former battle, and between pro vs. anti free-traders in the latter battle, were evenly balanced enough that the Bush administration alienated only a handful of Republicans. But in demanding a guest-worker plan that smacks of amnesty, the Bush administration is taking the unpopular side of a party division that is at least 80-20.
In December, the House passed a border-security bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.. The bill rejected support for Bush’s guest worker/amnesty plan. Since 88% of Republican House members voted for this bill, that should have been a wake-up call to the president.
Shortly thereafter, Arizona Republican National Committee member Randy Pullen gathered enough signatures to present a resolution to the Republican National Committee at its Jan. 19-20 meeting in Washington, D.C., which endorsed border security measures and opposed any guest worker plan.
A competing resolution endorsing border security plus a guest worker plan was floated by the RNC’s Bill Crocker of Texas. After he realized the strong tide against guest workers, he began negotiating a compromise with Pullen, and one version of the compromise eliminated guest workers.
When the RNC resolutions committee met Jan. 19, the chairman, Idaho’s Blake Hall, brought up the original Crocker resolution that included guest worker language. An attempt by one committeeman to substitute the Crocker-Pullen compromise was ruled out of order, and then a motion to remove the guest worker language was voted down 5 to 3.
That evening, the Bush administration sent in its big guns, Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to insist that RNC members support the guest worker plan or else they would be labeled disloyal and disrespectful of President Bush. Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman made the rounds to regional caucuses to demand approval of Bush’s guest worker plan and defeat of the Pullen resolution.
At the RNC meeting on Jan. 20, the Hall-approved resolution was incorporated and passed as part of a package of nine resolutions in order to preclude a specific vote on the border security-guest worker issue. The Pullen resolution did not come up.
This donnybrook happened on the same day that the New York Times reported that 18,207 illegal immigrants from nations other than Mexico have been the beneficiaries of the Bush administration’s scandalous “catch and release” procedure in the three months since Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff promised to “return every single illegal entrant - no exceptions.” Catch and release means that the illegal immigrants from nations other than Mexico are not deported. But after they are apprehended, they are released on their own recognizance with instructions to reappear a few weeks later, with everybody understanding that they will disappear into the U.S. population.
Also on the same day, Lou Dobbs reported on CNN-TV that Mexican troops are crossing our southern border twice a month in uniform, in military vehicles and carrying military weapons. The Bush administration’s response to this invasion is don’t ask, don’t tell.
It’s bad enough that President Bush is pursuing a vastly unpopular guest worker-amnesty plan, but the administration’s bullying to prevent debate and a vote by the full Republican National Committee was intolerable. It forecasts the sort of intimidation we can anticipate in the upcoming Senate debate about Bush’s guest worker plan.
Why are President Bush and Karl Rove so tone deaf on this issue? Some speculate that the Bush administration is in the pocket of big business lobbying interests that want the cheap labor made available by the government’s failure to enforce our immigration laws.
Others speculate that Bush and Rove are hallucinating that Hispanics will vote Republican. That won’t happen; Hispanics vote 55 to 75% Democratic because, since they are mostly in the low-income sector of our economy, they vote for the party that promises the social benefits of the welfare state, not for the party that pretends to support fiscal integrity and small government.
The administration-imposed RNC defeat of the majority view of Republicans is bad news for the 2006 congressional elections. Bush is alienating his political base and creating what one RNC member calls an “enthusiasm deficit.” In the words of the old adage, elephants (i.e., conservative Republicans) never forget.
In the post-September 11 era, Americans abroad enjoy a unique perspective on the actions of their nation and the reactions of their new homes to shifts in American policy. While the United States tackles many of the difficult questions that will help shape the future, America’s European partners are trying to resolve important questions that the United States cannot answer, no matter America’s might.
For those of us in Western Europe, the questions raised in the Madrid and London attacks brought home the immediacy of the issues facing our adopted homes. These questions will differ in degree and severity depending on the country of residence, but a time of reckoning is at hand for Europe; the continent is in the process of choosing its future as part of the liberal political and economic order of Western civilization or as a colony and political subject of Islamic demography.
In Europe there is a slow but steady realization that the heretofore unspoken problems of mass immigration of Islamic workers cannot be ignored any longer. We turn on our televisions and see Parisian suburbs burning; we walk our streets and see businesses advertising in Arabic and Farsi rather than the lingua franca of our adopted lands; we see European politicians demand greater cultural understanding while being unwilling or unable to enforce our laws equally within ethnic enclaves.
As an American in Ireland, I live in one of the most dynamic, prosperous and free societies of Europe. Ireland respects equal protection before the law, property rights and the free market. Ireland is one of the engines of European economic growth, a testament to the prosperity that a free people can achieve through hard work and diligent application of market principle. Ireland’s historical reputation for poor economic performance, narcoterrorism links and criminal behavior are increasingly things of the past.
With that prosperity come certain problems — Ireland has one of the world’s tightest labor markets, and increasingly native Irish are less apt to fulfill menial labor roles. While the policies of U.S. immigration enforcement since September 11 have prompted the return of large numbers of the Irish diaspora, the pace of Irish economic growth has outstrapped the supply of repatriated citizens.
As Ireland has lifted itself from the bottom rungs of the European economic ladder, it has increasingly turned to the model perpetuated by Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, utilizing immigrants to sustain prosperity. This has led to new and unusual practices that strain Irish immigration law; the right of citizenship for those born in Ireland has been ensconced in constitutional law. But this problem is compounded by a lack of laws geared toward keeping every would-be asylum seeker or immigrant from coming to Ireland to gain citizenship for unborn children.
Irish law requires that every asylum applicant be allowed to enter the state. One’s asylum application need not have any merit, so long as it is able to tie up the Irish judicial system long enough for childbirth to occur and citizenship to accrue to the child. While Irish law doesn’t require parental asylum, the system is hesitant to break up families. My own residence in Ireland was secured simply by marriage to an Irish citizen, a process that took a fraction of the time it would take to bring a spouse legally into the United States.
Ireland is far from alone in struggling with the immigration issue. France, Germany, Italy and most of the continent are divided on how best to protect cultural identity and national security without sacrificing economic prosperity. These problems are magnified when existing immigrant populations opt to refuse assimilation, and reject the standards and practices of their new societies.
In recent months, we have seen the product of failed policy. Immigrants and their anti-assimilation descendants in Clichy-sous-Bois seem to believe their criminal proclivities have precedence over French civil law, and the French have never done anything to dissuade them of the notion like enforcing the law in ethnic communities.
Politicians call for greater understanding, tolerance and wider implementation of multicultural initiatives, while immigrant populations continue an unrepentant rejection of pluralism. Thankfully, not all of Europe is marching in lock-step with the apologist agenda.
These are the opening volleys in a war for the future of Europe that will have consequences that should concern every American. There are times that I despair for the future of Europe, though increasingly Europeans are waking up to the reality of the problem in their midst. Looking out my living room window into the city streets of Dublin, I think I can sometimes see the writing on the walls for Europe’s future. Unfortunately, it all too often isn’t in English.
Will Sample is an American living and working in Dublin, Ireland.
An American law enforcement officer and news crew in Texas have witnessed another armed incursion into the United States by men dressed in Mexican army attire, the second such incident in just two weeks.
As before, several men dressed in Mexican military garb appeared to violate the international boundary, in Hudspeth County, Texas, some 50 miles east of El Paso, local affiliate KFOX-TV reported today. There, the U.S.-Mexico border is separated only by a shallow stretch of Rio Grande River.
The incursion was witnessed by a KFOX news crew and Hudspeth County deputy, photos of which are posted on the affiliate’s website.
The deputy and news crew were on the scene Tuesday night to film a segment about last week’s incursion, when the law officer noticed more “soldiers” emerge from a clearing on the U.S. side of the border.
As the deputy and news crew watched, three soldiers emerged into the clearing before one hurried back into the concealment of brush, KFOX reported. But the deputy pointed out other, larger groups of soldiers engaged in a flanking action against him and the news crew, most probably, the deputy believes, in an attempt to figure out what they were doing.
“They are doing the classic thing, flanking around each side of us and actually coming up into the U.S. and trying to figure out what we are doing; they are looking at us very heavily,” said the deputy, who was not identified in the report.
At that point KFOX reporter Ben Swann asked, “So I guess it’s time to go?” and the deputy answered, “Yeah, it would definitely be time to get out of here.”
The deputy chose to vacate the area because he was vastly outnumbered and outgunned, the report said.
Mexican officials have said their military is forbidden from traveling within three miles of the border, though U.S. border residents have repeatedly spotted mobile patrols of Mexican military units traversing roads that run directly parallel to the international boundary. Because of the stated policy, however, Mexico says the armed men crossing into the U.S. are paramilitary forces loyal to drug-smuggling cartels.
In last week’s incident, Texas law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents engaged in an armed standoff with Mexican military personnel and drug smugglers just inside the United States along the Rio Grande. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario, Calif., reported that both Texas law enforcement and the FBI stated nearly 30 American agents were part of the incident.
Chief Deputy Mike Doyal of the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Department told the paper Mexican military Humvees were towing what appeared to be thousands of pounds of marijuana across the border into the United States.
Border Patrol agents called for backup after seeing that Mexican Army troops had several mounted machine guns on the ground more than 200 yards inside the U.S. border – near Neely’s Crossing.
The deputy involved in this week’s incident said he identified what appeared to be a military vehicle partially concealed in brush near the Mexican “soldiers.”
“It’s been so bred into everyone not to start an international incident with Mexico that it’s been going on for years,” Doyal told the Bulletin. “When you’re up against mounted machine guns, what can you do? Who wants to pull the trigger first? Certainly not us.”
Andrea Simmons, a spokeswoman with the FBI’s El Paso office, confirmed the earlier incident, saying, “Bad guys in three vehicles ended up on the border. People with Humvees, who appeared to be with the Mexican army, were involved with the three vehicles in getting them back across.”
Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a border watch group that assists authorities in securing the border, said with the latest incident “the government of Mexico once again has demonstrated their contempt for the United States.”
“It is disgraceful that American citizens, including law enforcement, live under the threat of a foreign army that enters our country at will,” he added. “It took the murder of 3,000 Americans on American soil for the government to take international terrorism seriously. With the Mexican army, drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists able to cross our borders with impunity, it seems that only the mass murder of Americans living on our border will cause the government to take decisive action to secure our borders.”
In comments to KFOX, the deputy involved in this week’s incident said, “If it’s going to take a bunch of us getting killed down here on the river to show everybody that this is a problem, then its going to happen, one of these days it will happen.”
by Phyllis Schlafly
One of the most outrageous examples of out-of-control judges is the case called Flores v. Arizona, now pending in federal court in Tucson. Originally filed in 1992, plaintiff lawyers claim to represent an estimated 160,000 children of illegal immigrants attending Arizona public schools.
The case seeks to force Arizona taxpayers to pay for bringing these children, euphemistically called English Language Learners, up to grade level. The lawyers are trying to accomplish this by turning a state legislative issue into a federal judicial command.
In 2000, a judge appointed by former President Jimmy Carter ruled that the inability of illegal alien children to speak English well enough to succeed in school meant that Arizona was violating the federal Equal Education Opportunity Act of 1974. This EEOA requires “appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation.”
A decade ago, in a case that involved Alabama’s policy about foreign-language driver’s license exams, liberals attempted to induce activist judges to insert the word “language” into the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of “national origin.” The lawyers did persuade a district court and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to legislate from the bench and do that.
However, in the 2001 case of Alexander v. Sandoval, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, rejecting the claim that someone can sue for accommodation for his foreign language based on the Civil Rights Act. In our era of supremacist judges who so often believe that they can “evolve” new meanings into the Constitution and into statutes, and impose their own policy preferences, this was a welcome case of judicial restraint.
Nevertheless, hope springs eternal in the creative minds of lawyers who seek out supremacist judges. They are spurred on when deep pockets are available, and they find the deepest pockets when they can raid the American taxpayers.
So, back to Flores v. Arizona, where the Judge Alfredo C. Marquez had ruled against the taxpayers. But because the statute sets no standards for “appropriate action,” the judge wisely said in 1999 that he would not substitute the court’s “educational values and theories for the educational and political decisions reserved to state or local school authorities.”
The judge ordered the state to prepare a cost study so the legislature could act. The Legislature then passed three bills providing funds to address the problem of English Language Learners, but Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed all three.
The original judge retired, and the Flores case was handed over to Judge Ramer C. Collins, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton. In December 2005, Collins imposed fines of $500,000 a day, escalating to $2 million a day, for every day that the legislature fails to authorize funding acceptable to the governor.
Napolitano wants the Arizona Legislature to appropriate nearly $1,200 per child. That could total $192 million, and she wants it without accountability for how it is to be spent.
Since Jan. 25, millions of dollars in court-ordered fines have been accumulating. If this continues to the end of the legislative session, the fines will total more than $77 million.
With the judge on her side, the governor has no incentive to sign any bill passed by the legislature until she gets what she wants. Napolitano is the same person who, when she was Arizona’s attorney general, had the responsibility to defend Arizona’s taxpayers.
If there is any issue that should be clearly and exclusively a function of the legislature elected by the people it is the matter of raising taxes and spending the people’s money. Unfortunately, there are many supremacist judges who think they (in this case, a judge and a governor) can order the legislature to raise taxes and tell them how to spend taxpayer money.
Flores v. Arizona makes it clear that our battle to reform the imperial judiciary is not finished just because two Bush-appointed justices have been seated on the U.S. Supreme Court. Hundreds of Clinton-appointed, Carter-appointed, and even Lyndon Johnson-appointed federal judges are continuing their judicial mischief in cases that will probably never reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Millions of non-English-speaking immigrants have come to America over several centuries. When their children went immediately into schools where only English was spoken, they learned English rapidly and taught it to their parents.
Immersion in English in public schools was the way this happened, and nobody ever thought of rewarding the immigrants or the schools with special appropriations. The immersion system worked just fine until liberal busybodies, with too much tax money at their disposal, decided to experiment on vulnerable immigrant children with unworkable, expensive projects such as the now discredited and misnamed “bilingual education.”
Nobody seems to know why some Arizona children haven’t learned English in the last five years. Can it be that the schools are allowing them to use Spanish in the classroom instead of the proven immersion method?
WASHINGTON — If the 24 counties along the nation’s Southwest border were a 51st state, it would rank first in federal crimes, second in tuberculosis and near the bottom in education, per capita income and access to health care.
Members of the U.S./Mexico Border Counties Coalition released a report including those estimates Wednesday as senators began to grapple with proposals for overhauling the nation’s immigration system.
The 246-page study by researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso examines the social, public health, criminal and environmental challenges facing the immigration-stressed region, which includes the sprawling urban communities of San Diego and El Paso and the desert and ranch country of Arizona and New Mexico.
Local officials say they hope the results show lawmakers they need help with alleviating grinding poverty, disease and crime.
Until illegal immigration became an issue of hot national debate, Congress treated the Southwest border with “benign neglect,” said Patrick Call, chairman of the Cochise County, Ariz., Board of Supervisors.
“As we move forward, it’s very important to keep in mind there are many other significant issues (than immigration) that come as a result of being on the border, and frankly tremendous opportunities,” he said.
The group says the report fleshes out problems they’ve been discussing for years. Chief among them, members say, are the high rates of disease and lack of access to health care and insurance.
The study found the region ranks last in access to health care compared with the rest of the states and 50th in number of residents with insurance. Yet the prevalence of people with tuberculosis is twice that of United States as a whole. Residents also have high rates of AIDS, hepatitis and adult diabetes.
Local hospitals are straining to cover the cost of treating uninsured patients, said San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, the border group’s president.
“You have seen a lot of our hospitals reach the breaking point,” Cox said. “Some of them are on the verge of bankruptcy, and that’s a very, very, very scary scenario.”
The local officials will take the information with them as they meet with members of Congress this week and later.
The study’s author, Dennis Soden, said members of Congress have reason to listen. “The Southwest is what the rest of the country is going to look like in five, 30 years: Hispanic majority, very young population, immigrant population,” he said. “That places a burden on the school systems, on the health system.”
Although many of the problems the report highlights involve the large numbers of migrants passing through their communities, many of the border officials in Washington this week said they don’t support walls or other hard barriers to immigration proposed by members of Congress.
Manny Ruiz, a Santa Cruz, Ariz., county supervisor, said businesses in his community and across the country thrive because of the border traffic. In the winter and spring, about half of the fresh produce sold in the U.S. enters through Nogales, Ariz.
Ruiz and Call, the Coshise County, Ariz., supervisor, said they worry lawmakers from Georgia, Colorado and other heartland states don’t understand the complex region. They hope the report will change that, too.
“The unintended consequences are very scary for us,” Call said of some immigration bills being proposed in Congress. “We certainly appreciate the help, but we think we’re better judges of what we need than someone who isn’t here.”
Violence on the U.S.-Mexico border is at an all-time high because illegal aliens are more willing to attack U.S. authorities, and an increasing number also are convicted criminals, border sheriffs said yesterday.
Whereas 10 years ago they would flee back to Mexico if anyone challenged them, now aliens make it clear they will fight, the sheriffs told a Senate Judiciary Committee panel.
“They make it known to the deputies: ‘We’re going through, you’re not going to stop us,’?” said Sheriff A. D’Wayne Jernigan of Val Verde County in Texas.
And Sheriff Larry A. Dever of Cochise County in Arizona said when smugglers are involved, law enforcement now expects the worst.
“We anticipate that we will be in a fight, a very violent confrontation, in every interdiction effort, with running gunbattles down public roadways,” he said.
The sheriffs described a border in chaos and a federal government that hasn’t put the resources into its own efforts, nor been as receptive as possible to local law-enforcement efforts to help out.
They said the trend toward violent confrontations has happened in the past decade as the trade in drugs and people has become a big business for smugglers and with the increase in OTMs, or “other than Mexican” aliens, attempting to cross.
“It sounds like, if nothing else, there’s at least an attitude of entitlement,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.
Border violence has become a hot topic in recent months, with drug cartels brazenly killing police chiefs on the Mexican side, the discovery of a tunnel under the border ending in a warehouse in San Diego, attacks on U.S. authorities increasing, and a videotaped encounter with what Texas sheriffs said was Mexican military on the U.S. side of the border.
Senators said one reason for the rise in violence on the U.S. side is that many illegal aliens are convicted criminals or persons wanted for crimes. More than 42,000 illegal aliens caught at the U.S. border in the past five months fell into that category, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Because the goal of these criminals is to smuggle valuable drugs and humans across the border, the violence today has led to gunfire exchanges with our law-enforcement agents,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican. “These criminals also have no prejudice in their violence, as they also assault the very people they’re smuggling illegally into our country.”
Mr. Kyl said the Department of Homeland Security reported that 139,000 of the 1.1 million people apprehended along the border in 2005 were criminal aliens seeking to illegally re-enter the United States.
In addition to the sheriffs, federal immigration authorities also testified yesterday.
Under questioning by Sen. Jeff Sessions, Marcy M. Forman, the director of the Office of Investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said her office doesn’t have the money or staff to respond to all calls from local law enforcement to come pick up illegal aliens.
“Basically the rule in Alabama was it was 15 or more, we might come and pick them up. Otherwise basically don’t bother to call. Isn’t that the real fact?” said Mr. Sessions, Alabama Republican.
Miss Forman said not all calls about illegal aliens are a priority for ICE.
“With 5,500 special agents we have to prioritize. Our prioritization entails national security and public safety,” she said, which means dangerous felons and those thought to be security risks.
She said “funding is an issue” for why they don’t have the ability to respond. President Bush called for modest increases in ICE agents in this year’s budget.
Sheriff Dever said that although his border county gets a good response from ICE, that’s not true for his colleagues in the interior.
Also yesterday, Mr. Kyl and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, joined by a bipartisan group of House members, announced a bill to close a loophole in the law regarding tunnels that run under the border. Although it is illegal to smuggle drugs or people through tunnels, it is not illegal to build a tunnel or own the property that the tunnel exits onto.
Forty tunnels have been discovered, 39 or them on the southern border. The border sheriffs are making the rounds of Capitol Hill in their search for more aid.
A House bill passed last year would allow border sheriffs to aid in enforcing immigration laws, and some states have signed agreements allowing ICE to train local law enforcement on how to detain and process illegal aliens.
Members of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition testified before a House Homeland Security Committee panel last month and some of their members, along with several Arizona sheriffs, will be before a House Judiciary Committee panel today.
The law of supply and demand can’t be repealed, either by politicians or supporters of illegal immigration. In Economics 101, we learn an increase in supply lowers prices. Wages are the price of labor. Higher wages call forth more labor supply.
To say the continuing influx of low-skilled immigrants willing to work cheaply doesn’t depress the wages of workers already here is to deny the basic laws of economics. To say a reduction or slowup in the numbers of illegals competing with legal residents, i.e., a smaller labor supply, wouldn’t improve wages and re-employ many who have lost their jobs to illegals also doesn’t square with the law of supply and demand.
The re-employment of legal workers at better wages would mean some marginal employers would go under. Also, some of the higher labor costs could be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, although such price increases would probably be small and thinly spread.
With higher labor costs, employers would have a greater incentive to invest in technology, which would lower prices and lead to higher standards of living.
The illegal immigrant population continues to rise unabated and now stands at 11.5 million to 12 million, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The debate on illegal immigration in the Congress is heating up. The economic ammunition in the arsenal of those who oppose a guest worker program or amnesty for illegals is also piling up. Here are a few significant findings.
A recent study by Harvard economist George J. Borjas, probably the nation’s leading authority on the economics of immigration, concluded that from 1980 to 2000 immigration reduced the average annual earnings of native-born men by $1,700, or nearly 4%. For the poorest tenth of the work force the reduction was much larger, 7.4%, traceable to Mexican immigration. Native-born African-Americans and Hispanics were also hard-hit, being in direct competition with immigrant workers. Mr. Borjas found even college graduates had their earnings lowered by an estimated 3.6%.
Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), looked at native workers in occupations performed by people with a high-school education or less, about 25 million workers. He estimated immigration reduces the wages of these workers more than 10%, with minorities suffering most. A study done by economists for the National Research Council also found immigration significantly lowered the wages of high-school dropouts.
President Bush favors a guest worker program that would legalize and hence encourage the continued flow of low-wage immigration. Yet his own Council of Economic Advisers, in its 2005 annual report, conceded immigration negatively affects the wages of those already here, particularly less skilled workers. The depressing effect that the illegal labor supply has on the wages of legal workers won’t be mitigated by turning illegals into legal residents.
Under the government’s H-1B temporary visa program, employers can hire technical and professional foreign workers, provided they are paid wages comparable to American workers with similar skills in the same occupation and location.
An analysis of the program by John Miano, chief engineer of the software company, Colosseum Builders Inc., found it depressed the earnings of American workers. Despite the program’s comparable wage rule, employers have been paying foreigners significantly less than required, undercutting the wages of American workers. Here again we have a program being bent to enable employers to import cheap labor.
Economist Ethan Lewis of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently analyzed the effect of immigrant labor on technology and found manufacturing plants drawing on low-skilled low-paid immigrant workers slowed their adoption of technology. Less investment in technology means lower productivity growth, and in the long run lower wages and standards of living.
Illegal immigrants use more government services than they pay in taxes, which is not surprising since they are predominately unskilled and low-paid.
Mr. Camerota of the CIS estimated the one-year net fiscal cost of illegal immigrant households to American taxpayers at about $10 billion at the federal level alone. Illegals were estimated to pay about $16 billion in taxes and cost the government $26 billion. (About half of illegals are estimated to be paid wages off-the-books.) The largest costs were for Medicaid, food benefits, aid to schools, and use of federal prisons and courts.
Mr. Camerota estimated the cost of illegal immigrant households if a law were passed to make them legal. They would qualify for a wider range of government services and would make greater use of such programs as the earned income tax credit, even though more of their earnings would be reported and taxed. Tax revenue per household would rise an estimated 77%, but costs would rise even more, by 118%. The net result would be to nearly triple the annual fiscal cost, to $29 billion.
As illegal immigrants continue to spread throughout the country, more legal workers will lose wages or jobs, and more employers will reap the profits. Working Americans are greater in number but business seems to have more political influence. If the balance is to shift, Americans must become more vocal.
Alfred Tella is former Georgetown University research professor of economics.
As the Senate starts debating immigration legislation this week, missing will be one of the most important elements for any meaningful immigration reform. That’s the need to cut legal immigration.
In fact, the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee goes the wrong direction. It would blow the lid off some legal immigrant visas, almost doubling the permanent resident visas allotted yearly and giving out thousands more temporary visas.
Not only would the Senate bill bring in markedly more foreigners through supposed legal routes, it would amnesty the 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens already in this country. This profligate approach is a recipe for disaster.
Why is the Senate going the wrong direction, as compared with the U.S. House’s enforcement-first approach? Do we need higher legal immigration, as elitists suggest?
(1) Legal immigration and illegal immigration are two sides of the same coin. High legal immigration means high illegal immigration. When we’ve had lower legal immigration, we’ve experienced less illegal immigration.
The foreign-born share of the U.S. population has risen sharply over the last 40 years. So has the illegal alien component of the foreign-born population. Illegal aliens made up 21% of the foreign-born in 1980, a quarter in 2000 and 28% in 2005. Half of the top 10 source countries are also top illegal alien senders. These include El Salvador, China, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.
(2) Mexico is the biggest source of both legal and illegal immigrants. 30% of the foreign-born are Mexicans, and more than half of U.S.-resident Mexicans are illegal aliens. Mexicans make up 3 times the proportion of the next three sending countries combined (China, Philippines, India).
Mexicans will clearly benefit the most from much higher immigration and from another amnesty — leading to more of the same immigration troubles down the line, in spades.
(3) Amnesties have exacerbated our immigration problems in many ways. This one will be no different.
The illegal population replenished itself in less than a decade following the 1986 amnesty. The number of illegal alien residents doubled from 1990 to 2000, from 3.5 million to 7 million. By 2005, about 10 million illegal aliens lived in the United States — more than triple the number of IRCA amnesty recipients, triple the illegal alien population in 1980 and twice the level of illegal immigration in 1996.
The several mass amnesties over the last two decades severely mask the degree of illegal immigration. The 1986 IRCA amnesty legalized 3 million aliens. Three-fourths were Mexican. Amnestees gained full eligibility to sponsor additional immigrants, which swelled the ranks of both legal and illegal immigrants.
In fact, many “new” immigrants who receive a permanent resident visa each year have lived in America illegally for years. The New Immigrant Survey found immediate family immigrants who first came unlawfully typically made 2 to 4 trips illegally. They lived here 5 to 8 years before legalization.
(4) The ability to have “anchor babies” and the phenomenon of “chain migration” provide more lawbreaking opportunities. The Senate legislation ignores these critical flaws.
An estimated one-tenth of U.S. births — 380,000 in 2002 — are to illegal aliens. “Birthright citizenship” of their American-born child allows illegals a firmer foothold here.
An overly generous legal immigration preference system gives visas to grown children and their in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins, and visa lotto winners — ahead of nuclear family members of legal permanent residents and regardless of individuals’ ability to contribute to America’s national interest.
This antifamily policy keeps parents and minor children, husbands and wives apart longer. It gives an incentive for illegal immigration. Such “chain migration” creates an entitlement mentality by bestowing technical visa eligibility on millions of distant relatives and puts immigration an “autopilot.”
(5) The New Immigrant Survey confirmed the inextricable link between legal and illegal immigration. It found two-thirds of adult immigrants had spent time in this country before receiving a permanent visa — a third illegally.
For Mexicans surveyed, 57% had illegally crossed the border, and 9% overstayed an expired visa.
Instead of increasing legal immigration and thereby exacerbating illegal immigration, Congress should cut legal immigration levels by half or more. This would reduce illegal immigration, too, if history serves as guide.
We already allot more than a million immigrant visas a year. This is 4 times higher than traditional levels. From 1776 to 1965, this “nation of immigrants” averaged 230,000 immigrants annually. And nearly 50 million foreign workers, immigrants and their children already live here. We can’t possibly need the volume the Senate would add.
James R. Edwards Jr. coauthor of “The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform,” is an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute. This is adapted from a new backgrounder from the Center for Immigration Studies.
By George Will
Washington — america, the only developed nation that shares a long — 2,000-mile — border with a third world nation, could seal that border. East germany showed how: walls, barbed wire, machine gun-toting border guards in towers, mine fields, large irritable dogs. And we have modern technologies that east germany never had — sophisticated sensors, unmanned surveillance drones, etc.
It is a melancholy fact that many of these may have to be employed along the u.s.-mexican border. The alternatives are dangerous and disagreeable conditions for americans residing near the border, and vigilantism. It is, however, important that americans feel melancholy about taking such measures to frustrate immigration that usually is an entrepreneurial act — taking risks to get to america to do work most americans spurn. As debate about immigration policy boils, augmented border control must not be the entire agenda, lest other thorny problems be ignored, and lest america turn a scowling face to the south and, to some extent, to many immigrants already here.
But control belongs at the top of the agenda, for four reasons. First, control of borders is an essential attribute of sovereignty. Second, current conditions along the border mock the rule of law. Third, large rallies by immigrants, many of them here illegally, protesting more stringent control of immigration reveal that many immigrants have, alas, assimilated: they have acquired the entitlement mentality spawned by america’s welfare state, asserting an entitlement to exemption from the laws of the society they invited themselves into. Fourth, giving americans a sense that borders are controlled is a prerequisite for calm consideration of what policy that control should serve.
Of the estimated at least 11 million illegal immigrants — a cohort larger than the combined populations of 12 states — 60% have been here at least five years. Most have roots in their communities. Their children born here are u.s. Citizens. We are not going to take the draconian police measures necessary to deport 11 million people. They would fill 200,000 buses in a caravan stretching bumper-to-bumper from san diego to alaska — where, by the way, 26,000 latinos live. And there are no plausible incentives to get the 11 million to board the buses.
Facts, a conservative (john adams) said, are stubborn things, and regarding immigration, true conservatives take their bearings from facts such as those in the preceding paragraph. Conservatives should want, as the president proposes, a guest worker program to supply what the u.s. Economy demands — immigrant labor for entry-level jobs. Conservatives should favor a policy of encouraging unlimited immigration by educated persons with math, engineering, technology or science skills that america’s education system is not sufficiently supplying.
And conservatives should favor reducing illegality by putting illegal immigrants on a path out of society’s crevices and into citizenship by paying fines and back taxes and learning english. Faux conservatives absurdly call this price tag on legal status “amnesty.” Actually, it would prevent the emergence of a sullen, simmering subculture of the permanently marginalized, akin to the arab ghettos in france. The house-passed bill, making it a felony to be in the country illegally, would make 11 million people permanently ineligible for legal status. To what end?
Within a decade, the new york and washington metropolitan regions will join the miami, houston, los angeles and san francisco regions in having majorities made up of minorities, partly because immigrants have higher birth rates than whites. Since 2000, births, not immigration, were the largest source of growth of america’s latino population.
Urban immigrant communities, with their support networks, are magnets for immigrants. Good. Investor’s business daily reports a new study demonstrating that “over the past 30 years rising immigration led to higher wages for u.s.-born workers. Cities that served as migrant magnets did better than others. Why? Hiring one worker creates wealth with which to hire more workers.”
The president, who has not hoarded his political capital, spent some trying to get the nation to face facts about the bleak future of an unreformed social security system. Concerning which: in 1940 there were 42 workers for every retiree; today there are 3.1. By 2030, when all 77 million baby boomers have left the work force, there will be only 2.2. And that projection assumes net annual immigration, legal and illegal, of 900,000, more than double the 400,000 foreigners who, under the terms of proposed senate legislation, could come here to work each year.
Today the president is spending more of his depleted political capital by standing to the left of much of his political base, which favors merely preventative and punitive measures regarding immigration. He is right to take his stand there.
By Matt Towery
The debate about illegal immigration has hit congress full force. In the end, the real issue in choosing between the president’s proposal to sanction illegal aliens with provisional worker status and the tougher counterproposal by many in congress, is that in addressing the problem of undocumented workers, we somehow might harm american businesses and the economy.
Moreover, it’s loudly apparent that — as predicted months ago in this column — both the white house and the republican-led congress are late to the table in tackling this volatile situation.
I tend to side with those who call for a serious effort to close our borders. Yet, i’m not convinced that bush’s proposal doesn’t contain some wise provisions that would benefit us all, including the most hardcore conservatives.
Consider the results of a recent insideradvantage/majority opinion research survey, conducted for the washington, d.c.-based southern political report.
The poll surveyed nine states in the deep south, where immigration issues are simmering. 41% of respondents favored cutting off benefits, such as medicaid, to illegal aliens. 37% preferred that businesses that hire illegals be punished. The rest were undecided.
This was no small survey, with over 4,000 respondents and a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5%.
The results tell me that there has been no crystallization of public opinion on this issue, even in a region of the country where the number of illegal aliens has exploded.
This collective ambivalence on the part of southerners may account for the willingness of the white house to chance a proposal that would offer a “temporary” work program as an essential component to any federal bill.
My inclination is to support the repatriation of illegal aliens to their countries of origin. Most of them work, but they don’t pay taxes, even though many frequent the basic tax-supported institutions of our society, including schools and hospital emergency rooms.
And yet the businessman and investor in me says the hard-line approach might not be the one taken by my hero, ronald reagan. What would he have done?
First, let’s consider that many illegal workers are willing to work jobs that pay too little to attract much of anyone else. Yet even with this huge pool of willing hands, it’s still almost impossible for all the businesses that need such labor to find enough of it.
Also, consider the wage inflation that would ultimately infect the economy if this cheap labor force was expelled from our borders. The scarcity of workers would be immediate and drastic. Many industries would feel the price shock of having to replace them, especially the construction industry, which has been among the hottest sectors of our economy in recent years.
Sure, we could cut off all benefits to aliens and throw their children out of school. But this might chill their passion for staying here and working.
Despite the groan i hear from some conservative readers who are in high dudgeon over this approach, i’m going to insist that the principles i’m applying are bona fide conservative ones. They’re not pure conservative ideology, but instead amount to pragmatic conservatism. I’m also going to venture a guess that the “gipper” would have done something similar.
There’s just one big difference between a likely reagan solution and the one proposed by bush. The current administration has paid only lip service to truly tightening our borders. Anecdotal and empirical evidence from the past five years proves the point.
I’m guessing reagan would have offered some sort of program designed to start taxing these workers, but not at such a high and immediate rate that it would touch off a downward spiral in the economy by repelling them from work or forcing businesses to pay higher wages to keep them.
At the same time, reagan probably would have lined the borders with so much law enforcement that those thinking about future illegal entry would routinely think again.
Simultaneous to this unfolding drama, congress is now showing signs of what this column suggested they do long ago. Because they sense a near-desperate need to embrace a winning political issue, expect the house of representatives to dust off congressman john linder’s so-called “fair tax” proposal. It has become a cause celebre among many fiscal conservatives and even some moderates, thanks to the consistent championing of it by radio talk show host neal boortz and others.
Now the word is spreading that new and bigger giants in the hugely influential world of talk radio, including sean hannity, are preparing to push the linder-boortz tax plan. As a result, gop house members reportedly have persuaded speaker dennis hastert that the fair tax issue has legs.
Tackling immigration and a new system of taxation could be the last-minute medicine that a slumping republican party needs to save itself in the november elections.
Forget the long-running bipartisan concern about creating an educated, highly skilled workforce. What the u.s. Economy desperately needs is more high-school dropouts — so desperately that we should import them hand over fist.
Such is the logic of the contention by advocates of lax immigration that the flow of illegal labor from south of the border is a boon to our economy. But it doesn’t make intuitive sense that importing the poor of latin america would benefit us. If low-skill workers were key to economic growth, mexico would be an economic powerhouse, and impoverished americans would be slipping south over the rio grande.
The national research council reports that an immigrant to the u.s. Without a high-school diploma — whether legal or illegal — consumes $89,000 more in governmental services than he pays in taxes during his lifetime. An immigrant with only a high-school diploma is a net cost of $31,000. 80% of illegal immigrants have no more than a high-school degree, and 60% have less than a high-school degree.
Steve camarota of the washington, d.c.-based center for immigration studies estimates that illegal immigrants cost the federal government $10 billion a year. State and local governments lose even more. Illegals pay some taxes, but not enough to cover governmental expenses like medicaid and treatment for the uninsured.
According to camarota, if illegal immigrants were legalized, their net annual cost to the federal government would only increase, tripling to $30 billion a year. Immigrant workers don’t earn enough to pay much in taxes, while they qualify for all sorts of governmental assistance. As they become legal, they will get even more assistance — the benefits that they get from the earned income tax credit, for instance, would increase by a factor of 10.
Whatever benefit illegals provide to the economy in general must be minuscule. All workers without a high-school education — illegal and otherwise — account for only 3% of economic output. Even if illegal immigrants were dominant in low-skill industries, their broader impact would be small. But they aren’t dominant, and that includes job categories associated with immigrants. Nearly 60% of cabdrivers are native-born. In only four of 473 job classifications are immigrants a majority of the workers.
The u.s. Has an ample supply of native-born workers with a high-school education or less, but camarota suggests they are being pushed out of the labor force by the influx of illegals. From 2000 to 2005, the percentage of high-school dropouts holding a job dropped from 53 to 48, and this trend was particularly pronounced in states with the highest levels of immigration. Illegals compete with the very workers least equipped to thrive in our economy.
Pro-immigration conservatives sometimes argue that, through immigration, we are importing social renewal. But the illegitimacy rate among hispanic immigrants in the u.s. Is 40%. They aren’t coming from countries that are paradisiacal models of social conservatism. The illegitimacy rate in mexico is roughly one third, and in el salvador it is 73%.
With the u.s. Population aging, don’t we need highly fertile immigrants to replenish our working-age population? Actually, there aren’t enough immigrants to change our age structure significantly. According to camarota, 66.2% of the u.s. Population was of working age in 2000. If all post-1980s immigrants and their u.s.-born children are excluded, the number falls to only 65.9%. With immigrants, the u.s. Fertility rate is 2.1; without them, it would be 2.0.
Immigration from latin america, in short, does not chiefly benefit our economy, government or society, but rather the immigrants themselves. Their motives, if not their means, are admirable — they want to improve their lives. Advocates of a lax immigration policy should admit that their policy has a humanitarian, not an economic, rationale, and its beneficiaries aren’t americans but mainly people from rural mexico.
If we really need more poorly educated workers here, we can always rely, unfortunately, on the public schools to produce them indigenously.
— Rich Lowry Is Author Of Legacy: Paying The Price For The Clinton Years.
By Jack Kemp
“My dear fellow immigrants,” with these words president franklin delano roosevelt sent greetings to the annual convention of the daughters of the american revolution, after the organization banned the great black contralto, marian anderson, from singing at their constitution hall in 1939 simply because of the color of her skin.
Marian anderson chose the steps of the lincoln memorial to deliver her concert just days later, appropriately ending the concert with “god bless america.” Turning hate and ignorance into love and brotherhood is what marked the works of both martin luther king jr. And marian anderson at the site of our american memorial to the great emancipator.
You ask, what’s that to do with the immigration debate raging these past two weeks in washington, d.c., and on talk radio all over america?
Well, to begin with, the voices of roosevelt and lincoln, preaching and practicing the american motto of “e pluribus unum,” are all but absent these days, except for a few of those talking about fixing our broken borders and disabled immigration policies in humane, compassionate and progressive ways.
As president george w. Bush recently reminded us, america can still be a nation of immigrants while remaining a nation of laws if we treat people in the way we would want to be treated and find the right way of enforcement.
The most troubling aspect of this debate is the meanness of spirit toward immigrants, particularly those of latino or hispanic heritage. But, it’s nothing new, as the irish, poles, germans, italians, asians and others were treated the same decades and decades ago.
According to michael barone’s “the new americans,” a closer look at the great migration of the 19th century reveals striking parallels to the current circumstances of the american immigration. The examples of two groups often cited by modern day advocates of restricting immigration - the irish and the italians - are particularly instructive.
During the last half of the 1800s and into the 20th century, more than 4 million irish men, women and children immigrated to the united states. Fleeing the potato famine of the 1840s and seeking economic opportunity, irish immigrants settled in urban areas starting in the northeast and eventually spreading across the country. Many of these early immigrants did not speak english. One estimate held that at least one-third of them spoke little english.
What worries me first as an american and second as a partisan republican from the lincoln wing of our party, is the republican party. The house of representatives is in danger of doing to itself in 2006, what it did in california in 1996 with proposition 187 - turning into an anti-immigration party in a rather ugly way.
The house version of immigration reform would be a prescription for electoral and political disaster, not unlike what happened to our party in the presidential election of 1964, when barry goldwater, our nominee for president, voted against the civil rights act.
The talk of 700 miles of walls, fences, federal troops, coupled with sending 11.5 million men, women and children back to their “home” countries is the equivalent of “police state” tactics advocated by the likes of lou dobbs and others who are not true leaders in the footsteps of george washington, abraham lincoln and ronald reagan.
Yes, we must control our borders with more and smarter technology, specially trained border security agents, and better enforcement in the private workplace. Yet, we shouldn’t be surprised if immigrants don’t respect our laws if our immigration laws aren’t respected or even enforced.
We must pass an immigration reform package that not only works, but is reasonable, respected and responsible.
I believe the senate judiciary committee bill recognizes the realties of a “guest worker” program that provides our country with the workers we need, while requiring workers and employers to operate with transparency.
The senate bill also creates a path to permanent citizenship that will, no doubt, be labeled by critics as “amnesty,” when far from it, it includes enforceable penalties and makes punishment fit the crime. Those who commit felonies should be deported, but most of our so called “illegals” are in america for freedom, family and faith in our “dream” of equal opportunity.
And by the way, the federal law that caps highly skilled h1b workers at 65,000 a year, down from 195,000 in 2003, has led to a “brain drain” from the u.s. To canada. This is counterproductive and counterintuitive to a 21st century, high-tech, globalized economy.
As i wrote in 2004, “looking to the fall campaign season, i am hopeful that other republicans will stand against anti-immigrant policies, stand up for free trade and stand behind wealth creation for the little guy by allowing workers to put a significant part of their social security taxes into personal retirement accounts, where they can acquire assets, property and the capital necessary to launch their version of the american dream.
By Larry Kudlow
President George W. Bush just met with mexican president vicente fox in cancun, and once again fox and mexico got a free pass for their role in the economics of the u.s. Immigration mess. Why is the u.s. So soft on mexico?
When fox took mexico’s helm six years ago he promised pro-growth policies. But it never happened. Right off the bat he sought a higher value-added tax, and since then has never had the courage to privatize the oil and gas sector. So, mexico’s vast energy and mineral-wealth base has never developed into a job-producing machine. Meanwhile, small-business credit availability is low and inflation tax-bracket creep is high in the absence of tax reform. No wonder mexican families seek a better life in america.
Instead of an asian or irish tiger, mexico has become a poodle-like chihuahua, with economic growth of less than 2% a year and per-capita growth at less than 1%. That’s pathetic. In an age when free-market reforms are sweeping emerging economies worldwide, mexico should be growing at 8 to 10% each year.
Over the past fifteen years, according to the world bank, china and india have surged ahead of mexico and the gap is widening. Mexico has gone nowhere. And until mexico’s economic malaise is cured, millions will continue to seek economic opportunity in the united states. Can you blame them?
As long as the american boom beckons, mexicans in search of prosperity will continue to stream to this country. They have a strong incentive to do so. The only way to reduce illegal immigration, therefore, is to raise the unskilled h-2b visa level and bring it in line with job openings in the united states. This is the only feasible economic solution to the chronic problem of illegal immigration. The idea worked forty years ago with the successful bracero program for farm workers. It can work again.
Today’s low visa limit of only 140,000 has caused illegal flows to skyrocket. This must be changed. Tamar jacoby of the manhattan institute estimates that u.s. Labor-market conditions can absorb about 400,000 mexican immigrants per year. This would balance labor supply-and-demand conditions and illegal immigration would plummet.
You can build a fence, but desperate mexicans in search of economic opportunity will climb over it or tunnel under it. This is the reality. And by the way, our h-1b visa program for skilled workers, now at only 65,000, should be unlimited. We need all the scientists and engineers we can get.
Once these immigrants get here they work hard. According to the u.s. Bureau of labor statistics, hispanic unemployment is only 5.5%, compared to 4.8% overall.
As for the claim that illegal workers don’t pay taxes, princeton professor douglas massey estimates that roughly two-thirds of undocumented immigrants pay the fica payroll tax. Overall, illegals have fed $7 billion to social security and $1.5 billion to medicare. They are contributing to our wealth, not reducing it.
And what do they take from the system? According to forbes magazine, only 10% of illegal mexicans have sent a child to an american public school and just 5% have received food stamps or unemployment benefits. A u-cal davis study also shows that more immigrant workers leads to more economic growth. This is standard economics. Multiply an enlarged workforce times existing productivity and you get more economic growth.
But for some reason, immigration opponents can’t make this connection. They are blinded by fear-mongering, defeatism, and pessimism.
Colorado congressman tom tancredo calls illegal immigration “a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation.” Huh? That’s xenophobic nonsense. In economic terms the u.s. Has never had it so good. Statistic after statistic says we’re booming, with 175,000 net new jobs created each month and record levels of americans working. In fact, since the early reagan 1980s, the u.s. Economy has been booming almost uninterrupted, creating 44 million new jobs even during the takeoff of high immigration.
Exactly what are we so afraid of? As center for equal opportunity chairman linda chavez has been pointing out, hispanics are great entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and job creators. According to 2002 census bureau data, hispanics are opening new businesses at a rate that’s three-times faster than the national average.
As a reagan conservative, i believe in freedom and opportunity. Globalization is here to stay. Proper reform should combine stronger border security with higher visa levels and a path to citizenship. Yes, illegals should pay fines and go to the back of the citizenship line. Yes, employers must aggressively cooperate with the new rules. But compassion must coexist with free-economy principles and the rule of law.
Before he passed away, pope john paul ii quoted matthew 25:35: “i was a stranger and you welcomed me.” That is precisely the spirit america should seek when it comes to immigration reform.
By Linda Chavez
As the senate continues to grapple with immigration reform, it’s time to clear the air of some broad misconceptions in the current debate. Since writing about this topic over the last few weeks, my inbox has been flooded with e-mails raising questions.
Some critics seem especially rankled by my arguments that many illegal aliens are “otherwise law-abiding” members of their communities. Most detractors point out that illegal aliens can’t pay taxes since they aren’t entitled to work. But that’s only half right. Confusion and ignorance on the immigration issue abound, so, here are a few facts worth considering.
First, illegal aliens are not currently criminals. They have committed a misdemeanor civil offense under current law by entering or remaining in the united states once their visas expire, but the house-passed immigration bill would automatically make these offenses criminal felonies.
Second, illegal aliens, by definition, broke the law to enter the country, but the way they got here doesn’t differ all that much from the way most immigrants came in previous eras. Until the success of the immigration restriction movement in the 1920s, people who wanted to immigrate simply showed up at u.s. Ports, or in the case of mexicans and canadians, just walked across the border.
There were laws in place governing naturalization, which varied over time from requiring that an immigrant live here as little as two years to as long as 14 years before being eligible for citizenship. Indeed, laws requiring registration of immigrants were set up to ensure that immigrants met the naturalization residency requirements.
Unless they were from asia (chinese and, later, other asian immigrants were barred or severely limited from immigrating between 1862 and 1952), immigrants had merely to show themselves to be free of “loathsome or contagious diseases”; demonstrate that they were not likely to become dependent on public assistance (still required to gain admission today); attest that they were not polygamists, convicts or prostitutes; and, later, pay a small fee. These requirements were met after the immigrants were already on u.s. Soil — in fact, the huge numbers of people immigrating in the early 20th century led to the creation of ellis island off manhattan to process the entrants.
Today’s legal immigrants face a lengthy, sometimes decades-long, process, must have close relatives already living in the u.s. To stand any realistic chance of being admitted, or must possess unusual skills much in demand and have an employer ready to hire them.
Third, the overwhelming majority of illegal aliens pay taxes, including social security, medicare and property taxes, not to mention sales taxes. The chief actuary of the social security administration estimates that three-fourths of all illegal aliens have social security (and medicare) taxes deducted from their wages. How? It’s simple.
Since it is illegal to hire someone who does not present a social security number (and show other documentation of legal residence), many illegal aliens use phony numbers or cards to get jobs. In 2002 alone, the social security administration reported it had collected $7 billion in payroll taxes and $1.5 billion in medicare taxes from workers who could not be matched with valid social security numbers.
In addition, illegal aliens pay property taxes just like everyone else, either directly, if they own homes (and surprising numbers of illegal aliens do), or indirectly through their landlords’ property taxes in the form of rent. Most illegal aliens pay income taxes — since these, too, are automatically deducted — but they fail to claim any refunds since they are fearful of drawing attention to their illegal status.
Do these facts mean we ought to ignore the problem of 12 million illegal aliens living in the united states? Of course not. It’s bad for all of us when laws are so wantonly flouted. Those who have entered the country should pay some price for having violated the law — a heavy fine, for example, which is the usual penalty for misdemeanor offenses.
The more difficult question is how to stop more people from coming here illegally — and the best way to do that is to increase border security and change our current, inflexible laws to make it possible for more people to come here legally.
Washington (ap) - evangelical groups released a letter wednesday advocating immigration reforms, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. But the influential national association of evangelicals did not sign it, underscoring divisions among conservative christians over immigration.
The letter to president bush and members of congress was signed by dozens of pastors from around the country and several latino evangelical groups, including the latino leadership foundation and the national hispanic christian leadership conference. The letter doesn’t endorse a specific proposal but embraces the main elements of legislation being debated in the senate that would create a guest worker program for illegal immigrants.
Many conservatives support stronger border enforcement measures like those in a house-passed bill, and criticize moves to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here as amnesty.
“there seems to be a great misunderstanding on behalf of particularly white evangelicals on this issue,” said the rev. Samuel rodriguez jr., president of the national hispanic christian leadership conference. “hispanic evangelicals really believe that we can be the brokers between the law and order (side) and the pursuit of the american dream side. ... You can’t just be law and order.”
The national association of evangelicals, which represents some 57 denominations and 45,000 churches, released a statement on immigration from the group’s chairman, william hamel.
“the evangelical community is unified in our desire to achieve a balanced and thoughtful perspective on immigration that is consistent with a biblical worldview and one that accurately reflects our membership,” the one-paragraph statement says without commenting on specific immigration measures.
The group’s vice president for governmental affairs, the rev. Richard cizik, read part of the statement at a press conference held by evangelical groups supporting a guest worker program for illegal immigrants. Cizik downplayed nae not signing the other groups’ letter. World relief, nae’s development arm, did sign it.
Evangelicals “believe in law and order, but we are also the most compassionate, i think, of communities around the country today,” cizik said. “and i think what is perplexing to congress is frankly what often perplexes evangelicals — how do you reach the right balance of both.”
Cizik said hispanics have the highest rates of conversion to evangelical denominations, and that the movement was conscious of the opportunity presented by the immigration debate to gain converts.
by Alan Reynolds
I have often written about immigration and never fail to be misunderstood. Even the simplest statements of fact invite angry blogs and e-mails from people who claim to believe the only thing that matters is physically stopping those who arrive by crossing one of our borders on foot. Actually, most illegal immigrants arrive legally by car or plane, sometimes as tourists or students, or as alien crewmen who jump ship, or as travelers ostensibly in transit.
I never said we should not secure our borders. But border guards and immigration officers get no respect. The United States convicted 21,821 of immigration violations in 2003, and formally deported 202,842 in 2004. If anyone really hopes to deport 12 million, there aren’t enough buses.
President Bush insults our intelligence when he says illegal immigrants are needed to fill jobs that legal residents won’t do. There is no job that can’t be filled at a price. If that price is too high, consumers will simply take on more do-it-yourself projects — mowing their own lawns, cleaning their own homes, growing their own vegetables, cooking their own meals and taking care of their own children or elderly parents. We would not pay any more for fruit and vegetables because the price is set on world markets — we’d just import more fruit and vegetables from Mexico.
I see no reason why Congress should not tackle the issue of beefing-up border security first, rather than trying to bundle that costly chore with the more difficult issue of coping civilly with illegal immigrants who have been our neighbors for years.
What I most object to is self-righteous pontificating by people who have no idea how our immigration laws work, or why they don’t. I keep hearing radio talksters and cable newsters being outraged about how unfair it is for illegal aliens to “jump to the head of the line.” They should wait their turn, too, just as legal immigrants do. But there is no such line. Waiting lines are for relatives, not workers.
Eligibility for legal immigration is primarily based on whether or not one has relatives in the United States (or can recruit a fiancee) and secondarily on whether or not one comes from a brutal dictatorship (as a refugee or asylum-seeker) or was lucky enough to be one of the 55,000 out of 6.2 million applicants to win the diversity lottery.
It is almost impossible for foreigners without close relatives here to work here if they are not refugees or asylum-seekers, unless they marry a U.S. citizen or win the diversity lottery. The English, Irish, Scots and Canadians needn’t bother with the lottery — their language is insufficiently diverse. Immigration reform will never be reform until such capricious criteria are replaced by employability, English language testing by U.S. schools and serious immigration fees (to separate sincere applicants from the frivolous).
The United States has always issued temporary work permits, usually for one to three years. They are temporary because they require a fingerprint and immigration cops know whom to look for. Labeling such permits as “guest workers” is a semantic blunder. The important point is that work has a ridiculously low priority in U.S. immigration law. We admit a million legal immigrants each year, and half that many illegally, yet the number of employment-related visas is just 86,000.
Forget the silly idea that there are only so many jobs to go around. We are aging fast, and the country will soon run short of younger workers who can take a load off our creaking backs.
Those who fantasize that patient foreigners can somehow acquire super-scarce work permits by waiting in line are deluded. They also misuse the word “amnesty” to mean clemency or pardon. The failure to prosecute (imprison?) all those who violated the immigration laws for two decades is considered no different from granting them all green cards. Nonsense. It is entirely different.
Section 245(i) of the Immigration Act already allows illegal aliens to apply for green cards (permanent residency) if they fill out Form I-485 and pay a penalty of $1,000. Or they can give that money to a lawyer and apply for asylum with no fee, which buys a lot of time and keeps immigration lawyers well fed.
Very few illegals actually get green cards or asylum, of course. But there is currently no in-between status for them — they can apply for permanent residency or asylum, but not for temporary work visas. That means they must hide. And it is the fact that we compel them to hide — that we don’t know who they are or where they are — that poses a security risk.
Those who talk tough about enforcing our immigration laws need to first understand just how ridiculous those laws really are. Then they need to explain just how they would go about enforcing those ridiculous laws and why tough enforcement would not simply increase the incentive to hide.
The House wants to declare illegal immigration a felony. Did the House actually expect law enforcement to attempt arresting an estimated 5.4 million men and 3.9 million women and sending them to federal prisons? What would we do with their 1.8 million kids?
Many illegal immigrants can hardly imagine a more luxurious life than a federal prison. If Congress invited Central America’s poorest young men to a prepaid vacation at Club Fed, they’d gladly volunteer by the millions.
Should we slap big fines on businesses caught hiring illegal immigrants? Do we really want a lot of young Latinos wandering the street without work? Many work in the cash economy as migrant workers at small farms, casual day laborers for marginal construction companies, maids, nannies, lawn maintenance workers and the like. They are employed by households or very small businesses, making the cost of enforcement much higher than any likely benefit.
I am not offering easy solutions — at least not before someone explains just what the problems are and which ones need to be solved first, second and third. Those who offer easy solutions are fooling you, fooling themselves or both. Whenever Congress is so obviously befuddled as it is on this issue, the safest thing for it to do is absolutely nothing.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Wearing a bright green T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Mexico,” 18-year-old Marco Tapia couldn’t wait to join the biggest march for immigrants he had ever seen. The Mexican-born high school senior was among about 30,000 who marched through St. Paul in support of immigrant rights, and among more than half a million people who rallied Sunday in 10 states. Dozens more marches were planned nationwide Monday.
“Hopefully this will change the way America thinks,” said Tapia, a high school senior who is living illegally in Minneapolis with his mother and sister. “We’re not criminals. We’re just regular people like everybody else here.”
With an overhaul of immigration law stalled in Congress, demonstrators urged lawmakers to help an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants settle legally in the United States.
The massive turnout at Sunday’s protests — police estimated 350,000 to 500,000 in Dallas — continued to surprise organizers and police.
“This is a force, an energy here,” said Amir Krummell, a U.S. citizen born in Panama, who marched to Dallas’ city hall amid shouts of “Si Se Puede!”, Spanish for “Yes, we can!”
In Salt Lake City, a rally expected to draw about 3,000 instead attracted about 20,000, police said, and 50,000 turned out in San Diego. Other demonstrations were held in New Mexico, Michigan, Iowa, Alabama, Oregon and Idaho.
“If we don’t protest they’ll never hear us,” said Oscar Cruz, 23, a construction worker who marched in San Diego. Cruz, who came illegally to the U.S. in 2003, said he had feared a crackdown but felt emboldened by the large marches across the country in recent weeks.
In Birmingham, Ala., demonstrators marched along the same streets where civil rights activists clashed with police in the 1960s and rallied at a park where a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands as a reminder of the fight for equal rights and the violence that once plagued the city.
“We’ve got to get back in touch with the Statue of Liberty,” said the Rev. Lawton Higgs, a United Methodist pastor and activist. “We’ve got to get back in touch with the civil rights movement, because that’s what this is about.”
The rallies also drew counter-demonstrators.
In Salt Lake City, Jerry Owens, 59, a Navy veteran from Midway wearing a blue Minuteman T-shirt and camouflage pants, held a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.
“I think it’s real sad because these people are really saying it’s OK to be illegal aliens,” Owens said. “What Americans are saying is ‘Yes, come here. But come here legally.’ And I think that’s the big problem.”
Many groups had been preparing to rally since December, when the House passed a bill to build more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, make it a crime to help undocumented immigrants and make it a felony to be in the country illegally. It is now a civil violation.
Since then, local and regional protests, supported by popular Spanish-language disc jockeys, quickly merged into national plans after hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in dozens of cities last month, culminating March 25 with a 500,000-strong rally in Los Angeles.
“We don’t have a leader like Martin Luther King or Cesar Chavez, but this is now a national immigrant rights movement,” said Joshua Hoyt, director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which has helped organize rallies around Chicago.
In Minnesota, Latin dance music blared, Mexican flags waved and even a mariachi band in full costume marched to the state Capitol. Homemade signs dotted the crowd: “I’m a taxpayer.” “I’m a worker.” “I got rights.” “I am not a criminal.”
Tapia, who plans to study graphic design at a community college, said life has been hard for his family — especially his mother, who has raised him and his sister working a variety of jobs. He hopes that will change.
“All we want,” he said, “is a good American life.”
FORT WORTH — Alex Ceceñas remembers his father telling him about how he illegally crossed the Rio Grande to find work in Texas.
His father got a job on a ranch near the Hill Country and eventually got married, raised a family and earned his citizenship — all in Texas.
Those memories — and recent public demonstrations by high school students — have motivated Ceceñas to joins thousands of others for marches today in Fort Worth and Dallas in protest of proposed legislation that they say is unfair to illegal immigrants. Other rallies are planned in dozens of cities nationwide for Monday.
But the protests haven’t resonated with all Hispanics, including some illegal immigrants, who say they have little interest in the topic that has dominated political debate for the last few weeks.
Ceceñas, who was born in San Saba and now lives in Euless, has noticed. He said he has seen a disconnect with some of his Mexican-American friends when talk about the legislation pops up.
“I’m a first-generation American,” said Ceceñas, 32, who plans to register people to vote at the Dallas rally. “When you get someone three or four generations removed, they don’t relate. They never knew that grandmother who left Mexico.”
Experts say the difference of opinions among Hispanics, ranging from first-generation immigrants to fully acculturated Latino groups, illustrates the cultural divide that exists among Hispanics in this country, particularly in heavily minority cities like Fort Worth.
“If Anglos associate poverty, illiteracy and drug running with illegal immigrants, the more you can wrap the American flag around you, the better off you are,” said Neil Foley, an associate professor of history and American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. “If you’re Mexican-American, you’re feeling something about the debate.”
Hispanic leaders are quick to note that the recent mobilizations are proof that Latinos are making their voices heard in ways they never have before.
Still, they say, Hispanics of all backgrounds must work together if they hope to achieve meaningful immigration reform — even as Congress begins a two-week break after the Senate failed to reach a compromise on the legislation.
“There’s consensus in the movement,” Fort Worth City Council member Sal Espino said. “It remains to be seen whether all of this mobilization and action shows up at the voting booths later on down the road.”
A brewing battle
The initial demonstrations started after the U.S. House passed a bill that would make it a felony for immigrants to be in the U.S. illegally. Protesters turned out by the thousands in several cities, including an estimated 500,000 in Los Angeles last month.
Two weeks ago, motivated by Spanish-language radio and cellphone text messages, students got into the act. In Fort Worth and Dallas, hundreds of students streamed out of classrooms and marched to municipal government buildings, toting Mexican flags and chanting slogans.
The walkouts continued, to a lesser degree, in the days that followed. School officials admonished kids to return to class, while Latino leaders said the students had made their point. Although the protests died down, the movement swelled as Hispanic leaders continued to strategize.
Controversial proposals are circulating via e-mail.
One calls for Mexican-Americans, undocumented immigrants and those opposed to stiffer immigration laws to skip work Monday. Another, called the “Not A Penny Spent” movement, asks supporters to refrain from spending money that day.
Many Hispanics know about the newest wave of marches, announced by Fort Worth and Arlington civic leaders last week.
But some, such as Louis Ayala, 75, haven’t been keeping up.
Ayala, a north Fort Worth barber, was born in Indiana and moved to Fort Worth when he was 2. His parents were Mexican immigrants, and he said many of his customers include undocumented workers living in the country illegally.
But he said that he doesn’t know much about immigration reform and that he doesn’t plan on jumping into the fray.
“Really and truly, the system has been trying to deal with illegal immigrants for years,” he said. “And now for them to suddenly try and change it seems strange.”
In recent years, the United States has struggled to regulate the flow of immigrants into the country. The stream of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico has increased dramatically in recent decades, from 40,000 a year from 1980 to 1984 to roughly 485,000 a year from 2000 to 2004, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
And as the numbers rise, so does the variety of opinions among Hispanics regarding immigration. That isn’t uncommon, Foley said.
“When it comes to immigration, later generations that have been in the country longer feel like pulling up the ladder,” Foley said.
Newer immigrants are usually less educated and have trouble speaking English. And that, Foley said, often reflects badly on generations that have already assimilated.
Division in the ranks
Patricia Galindo Clark, a teacher at Angel Montessori School in south Fort Worth, doesn’t agree with the protesters. Instead, she said, she believes in tough immigration reform, including stiff penalties for those who cross the border illegally.
She was on jury duty in downtown Fort Worth two weeks ago, when the student protests were taking place, and saw them firsthand.
“I saw all these teenagers screaming and yelling, and I kept asking myself why,” she said. “It seems like everybody has to bend over backward for [illegal immigrants] after they break our laws.”
Surveys show most Hispanics — 80% — believe that immigrants today strengthen the United States, according to a 2005 study by the Pew Hispanic Center. But those figures diverge among foreign-born and native Hispanics, with 89% of foreign-born taking a positive view of immigrants, compared to 65% of native-born Hispanics.
Also, more than half the survey’s Hispanic respondents said they believed that the flow immigration into the U.S. should stay the same or be reduced, the study showed.
Gabriel Escobar, the center’s associate director, said researchers have not been able to measure whether the current debate is changing Hispanics’ views on immigration.
But, he said, a divide does exist between recent arrivals and those who have lived in the country for several generations.
That includes communities such as Fort Worth, which in 2005 was 29.8% Hispanic, according to city statistics. Texas’ Hispanic population last year was 7.8 million, or 35% of all Texans, according to the Texas State Data Center.
Geography does play a role in how people view immigration, Escobar said: “When you’re in a community where there are a lot of Hispanics, people tend to be more accepting.”
Some Hispanics, however, aren’t sure what to think.
Rocio Barreto, a 21-year-old senior at Texas Wesleyan University, is the daughter of a Mexican-American and a Spanish immigrant. She said she was confused about the recent protests because she heard misinformation.
“I wish I was more informed about the measures,” she said. “I’m trying to learn more about what all of this is about.”
Her classmate Marissa Diaz plans on attending the Fort Worth march today. She agreed that the issues are complex, but important to everyone.
“People forget that this won’t just affect Hispanics,” she said. “It is something we should all learn about.”
A cultural war
Al Rios is a first-generation citizen who recently graduated from the University of North Texas.
He said he has a personal stake in the debate — some members of his family are illegal residents.
“I think it’s a silly idea that you have to prevent people from crossing this imaginary line,” said Rios, 22. “It has become some sort of cultural war.”
Foley said that despite the splintering of opinion among Hispanics, the recent demonstrations represent a growing movement.
“It’s more appropriate to think of it as the birth of Latino political power,” Foley said. “They’re homegrown. These people will vote, and there will be consequences to be paid.”
Espino, a naturalized citizen, said the divide among Hispanics is being bridged now with the ongoing debates.
“It comes back to the whole concept of America,” he said. “If you can work hard, you can continue to rise, and that’s what we need to do as a people.”
It’s a belief shared by brothers Jesus and Javier Pacheco, proprietors of Pacheco’s Garage in Fort Worth and immigrants from Ciudad Juarez.
Jesus Pacheco’s younger daughters are citizens. He, his wife and eldest daughter, a student at Texas Christian University, will be taking the U.S. citizenship test this month.
“I’m in favor of helping my fellow immigrants,” Jesus Pacheco said.
But today, Jesus Pacheco won’t march. He plans to go to church with his family instead. His brother, Javier, who has a resident visa but wants to be a citizen, will join the demonstrators in Fort Worth.
“The Cubans flee Cuba because they’re oppressed,” he said. “Mexicans leave because there is no way to survive in Mexico.”
Javier Pacheco says he hopes the debates, and marches like those today, will galvanize the Hispanic community even more.
“It’s a great country, and I have a lot of dreams,” he said.
By Senator Jeff Sessions
When the U.S. Senate returns later this month from spring recess, it will get a second chance to pass meaningful immigration reform. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) has promised to hold new hearings and report out a revised bill by May 4. The committee’s starting point will be the so-called Hagel-Martinez “compromise” bill that failed to pass the Senate earlier this month.
That bill, however, is fatally flawed, and I would like to point out several reasons why the committee should either rewrite it substantially or start from a clean slate. Among the problems with the compromise proposal:
Cost: The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will increase the deficit by $29 billion in just five years and more than that in the years to come.
Categories of aliens that should be removed from the United States would be allowed to qualify for the compromise mass amnesty program, including:
— Aliens with certain felony convictions or three misdemeanors;
— Aliens previously barred from receiving immigration benefits for life, because they filed a frivolous asylum application;
— Aliens who are under final orders of removal, or who signed voluntary departure agreements but have never been deported.
The broad and vague work requirements are an open invitation for fraud. No continuous or full-time work is required, and the department of Homeland Security must accept “reasonable inferences” of work as qualifying evidence that the alien is eligible.
Illegal aliens who do not qualify for the mass amnesty (because they have been here for less than two years) can qualify for the bill’s new low-skilled “essential worker” program without ever leaving the U.S. In other words, no illegal alien will be left behind.
New “essential workers” do not have to be “essential” to stay in the United States. Once here, an alien simply can not be unemployed for “60 or more consecutive days.” Therefore, “essential” workers have a legal right to remain in the U.S. if they are working as little as one or two days out of every two months.
The “essential worker” program is not a temporary-worker program. The bill contains no economic trigger allowing workers to be sent home when the U.S. economy dips. Because these workers are eligible for green cards as soon as they enter the United States, once they are here, they will not have to ever leave, and, possessors of green cards are on a direct path to citizenship.
The “essential worker” program is essentially uncapped. The 325,000 annual numerical cap automatically adjusts each time the cap is reached, providing 65,000 additional visas in the first year, and an additional 20-percent increase the next year. An additional 3.9 million low-skilled workers could enter the U.S. in the first 6 years. All will be eligible for green cards.
Currently, the annual employment green-card cap is 140,000 and family members count against that cap. Under the compromise, the number goes to 450,000 and family members may come and not count against the cap. This means the total employment-based green cards under the program alone will reach 990,000 annually! To create such a new program that will be larger than all other green-card categories combined without careful study and public input is colossally irresponsible.
The bill provides free legal counsel paid for by the American taxpayer to illegal-alien agricultural workers.
The bill reverses current law and allows illegal aliens to be eligible for in-state tuition rates, and compete with U.S. citizens and legal residents for Stafford loans, and other types of federal financial aid, such as work study.
The United States benefits both economically and culturally from immigration, but there are security risks and costs also to consider. A wise country will seek to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs all the while insuring that the system is operated in a lawful manner. Our approach should not be based on emotions, polls, or politics. It should be founded on the legitimate national interests of the United States. Determining those legitimate interests requires a sustained and thoughtful inquiry into all the factors important to the nation.
While we all agree the present system is broken, and our lack of enforcement makes a mockery of the law, we have conducted no national dialogue on what our goals for the future should be. That is why I believe the compromise failed and why I believe a rush to pass “something” would represent a colossal failure by the Senate to meet its responsibility to the American people.
If the Senate wants to be successful in passing immigration reform, its first priority should be to approve a bill to secure the borders and increase interior-enforcement infrastructure. Then we can move on to discussions about fair and humane treatment of the illegal-alien population and the future flow of immigrants across our borders.
— The Honorable Jeff Sessions is a Republican U.S. senator from Alabama.
There is a surreal quality to the freshets, streams, rivers, and oceans of words expended on the immigration issue, without a word on the big point.
We have heard all about the dueling studies on jobs, welfare, deportation, gangs, culture, guest-workers, and terrorism. When as astute an observer of the American scene as Robert Samuelson calls for an obscene and politically catastrophic 30-foot wall along the Mexican border, echoing an earlier position of lock-and-load Pat Buchanan, you know something is awry.
As it happens, I favor President Bush’s courageous stand, but even he doesn’t mention the big one either.
Namely: American greatness and influence depend on immigration and assimilation. The U.S. is the only major country in the world growing at a moderate but geometric rate, while all the others shrink, including the two great peasant giants, China and India. (If you’re an investor, bet on India.) Europe is turning into a theme park with fewer and fewer shows and barkers.
If you know that American greatness, with its concomitant problems, comes from immigration and subsequent assimilation — immediately, or in a generation or two — you understand the situation. If you don’t, ask an immigrant cab driver in any big city to explain. Immigration and assimilation are our most important comparative advantages in a roiling world. Does it cause problems? Sure. What in the realm of public policy doesn’t? (Always answer a question with a question.)
There’s nothing wrong with Mexican immigrants. My favorite stats come from the Defense Department, which has data on most everything except who will win the war. They calculate that Mexican-American GIs have been awarded proportionately more Congressional Medals of Honor than any other sub-group in the American military.
U.N. projections show America growing from 300 million to 400 million to 500 hundred million by 2300, but they underestimate.
America is influential now, albeit unpopular in some, but by no means all, places. The Indians like us, which is nice, because they will likely be our most important ally as the years roll on.
Immigrants are our best publicists. They fly home on cheap flights, they e-mail home, they use their cell phones to say America is O.K., and then some. They send home “remittances” to their families, the best form of foreign aid. Immigrants have an average age of 29. They will pay into Social Security and Medicare for 40 years before getting a nickel back. This, we want to encourage!
At its most elemental, size means it is easier to fund a defense force, which is cheaper per person when paid by 500 million people instead of 300 million. It means more influence available for export. All things being equal, which is often the case, a large population yields power and influence.
Diminishment means “old people, in old houses, with old ideas,” as French demographer Alfred Sauvy said in the 1930s. It also means empty houses with falling prices, a shrinking market, and a shrinking labor force.
But it is much more than that. Americans are the principal purveyors of liberty and democracy to the world — no small matter. We have not done it perfectly, but we have done more than any nation in history has. It is likely what we will be remembered for. As John McCain says, we need a cause larger than ourselves. That’s mine.
The more of us there are — mixing, matching, blending — the easier the task becomes. That can yield greatness and sadness. Most Jews want their children to marry other Jews, but half of them don’t. Israel Zangwill was right; we are a melting pot — although Pat Moynihan used to point out with glee that Zangwill later emigrated to Palestine!
I have testified to Congress on this issue several times. They invariably ask about the same tired old things: jobs, welfare, deportation, culture, gangs, guest workers, terrorism, and so on. (Mexicans aren’t terrorist threats.) On immigration matters, the members of Congress don’t give much thought to macro-America and global influence.
Native Americans, slaves in chains, George Washington, Albert Einstein, and the guys who started Google came from somewhere else. With earlier restrictions we could have become Australia or Canada. (Canadians let in a lot of immigrants in a wiser manner than we do, and then many of them promptly come here, including a few terrorists.)
In any event, it’s a dumb show. A nation that can’t keep out illegal drugs, can’t keep out illegal immigrants. If we try to do it harshly, we are begging for trouble with Mexico, and with observers around the world. President Bush is on the right track; the road to citizenship should be open, albeit with penalties to make up for prior illegality.
Are we are going to be the great country in the world, or not? I vote yea.
— Ben Wattenberg is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The First Universal Nation, The Birth Dearth, and Fewer.
by Thomas Sowell
One of the ways of trying to justify illegal immigration from an economic standpoint is to point out that the work done by these immigrants is adding to the total output of the United States.
We have all heard about the “undocumented workers” who grow our tomatoes, harvest our strawberries, clean our hotels, take care of our children, mow our lawns and do innumerable other things. All of this of course adds to the nation’s total output.
If that is a sufficient justification, why not open our borders to everybody from countries around the world? If not, why not? By what principle would you decide where to put a limit?
There is no point saying that there is not room enough for everybody in the world to be here because there is.
A quarter of a century ago, I sat down with some statistics on world population and on land area in the United States — and discovered that the entire population of the world could be housed in the state of Texas, in one-story, single family homes, 4 people to a house, on a lot slightly larger than the lot where I was living at the time, in a typical middle-class neighborhood.
The world’s population has of course grown since then, so instead of putting everybody in Texas, we could spread them out from sea to shining sea, with lots of elbow room for everybody.
There is no question that, with billions more people living in the United States, our national output would be a lot bigger than it is today. Why not do it then, if the argument based on immigrants’ contribution to increased American output is sufficient?
More important, by what principle would you decide where to draw the line — and why does that same principle not apply to today’s immigrants, legal or illegal?
The most obvious objection is that the world’s population living in the United States would not only add to output but add to the costs imposed on American citizens. That same argument applies to immigrants from Mexico or any other country today.
The emergency rooms of many hospitals in California have become a major source of medical treatment for illegal immigrants, and the financial drain of serving people who cannot or do not pay has shut down some of these hospitals, making them unavailable to American citizens as well as illegal aliens.
Schools have to contend not only with the additional financial costs of educating the children of illegal immigrants but also with the educational problems of trying to deal with children who require extra attention because of their limited knowledge of English.
The children of American citizens have less time and resources available to them as a result.
The welfare state has made immigrants of all sorts, wherever their origin and whether they are legal or illegal, a major burden beyond what the immigrants of a century ago were. Few of the enthusiasts for more immigration seem to want to talk about these high hidden costs of “cheap labor.”
To the hotels, farmers, and affluent families who hire illegal immigrants, the labor may be cheap but to the taxpayers it can be very expensive.
Moreover, the people who live in affluent suburbs and have “undocumented workers” to mow their lawns, take care of their children or clean their swimming pools are unlikely to have these workers as neighbors. Nor are these immigrants’ children likely to be going to local upscale schools.
Even people who have been railing at Wal-Mart for not paying their workers “enough,” claiming that the taxpayers are subsidizing Wal-Mart employees’ health care and other benefits, never seem to apply the same reasoning to illegal immigrants.
While American citizens are legally entitled to welfare state benefits, Mexicans get those benefits only if they cross the border into the United States. In short, immigrants add to such costs while Wal-Mart’s American employees do not, because they can get those benefits whether they work for Wal-Mart or not.
Whatever the decision as to how many and what kind of immigrants should be let into the United States, why should that decision be made by people in Mexico, instead of being made here by Americans?
IRVINE, Calif. — Laurie Lisonbee worried about illegal immigration but figured it was somebody else’s issue _ until she saw hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters marching across her TV screen.
Soon, Lisonbee had recruited several friends to attend a demonstration by the Minuteman Project, a volunteer group that patrols the border to keep out illegal immigrants. Now, the 51-year-old art professor checks the group’s Web site daily and plans a summer trip to the Mexican border to help build a fence.
Minuteman organizers say this spring’s marches have proved to be an unexpected recruitment tool for Americans who feel uneasy about the burgeoning immigration movement but may have considered the organization a pack of gun-toting vigilantes.
“We’re not trying to be more mainstream _ mainstream has found us,” said Stephen Eichler, the group’s executive director. “They’re saying, ‘These guys actually have teeth, they don’t all chew tobacco, they don’t all have a gun rack in the back of their truck.’ They’re saying, ‘They believe what I believe,’ and they’re joining us.”
Lisonbee, a registered Republican, said only one issue matters to her now.
“My vote will go to the candidate who’s the toughest on immigration, whether they’re Democrat or Republican,” she said from her home in Orem, Utah. “Before, we were pretty much the types of people who would call our congressmen and not take to the streets. But that’s all changed now.”
The Minuteman Project first gained attention last year when Orange County resident and former tax accountant Jim Gilchrist helped lead its first 30-day patrol of the border in Arizona. The group has added mainstream political tools, including a network of local chapters and e-mail lobbying campaigns.
In December, Gilchrist, a former Republican, ran as a third-party candidate in a special House election in Orange County, Calif., finished a respectable third with 25% of the vote.
Since this spring’s huge pro-immigrant rallies, 300 people nationwide have applied to start local chapters, according to Eichler. The group’s goal is 500 chapters by December and a membership of 1 million within 1 1/2 years, Eichler said.
Eichler claimed the organization’s membership has climbed to more than 200,000.
But Heidi Beirich, deputy director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which monitors the Minuteman Project for racist rhetoric, said that estimate appears to be ridiculously high. She offered no estimate of her own.
“At the border during this last outing, they had maybe 50 people. If they have 200,000 people, it doesn’t seem right,” she said.
Beirich also questioned the premise that pro-immigrant rallies will help the Minuteman Project. She said many recruits may attend one or two rallies, but leave after they discover what she called the group’s extremist attitudes.
“They get in there and they’re like, ‘My God, I didn’t sign on for this,’” she said.
In the coming weeks, the Minuteman Project plans to set out in a caravan from Los Angeles to Washington, with stops in 13 cities, including President Bush’s vacation haven of Crawford, Texas. It is also raising money to build a private fence along parts of the California-Mexico border.
Increased security along the border is a popular idea on Capitol Hill, where the immigration debate will soon resume. How to treat the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants now here is where Congress splits _ a House bill would criminalize the immigrants, a Senate bill would offer guest worker status and a potential path to citizenship.
David S. Meyer, a professor of sociology and political science at the University of California, Irvine, said the growing Minuteman movement has “stiffened the spine” of conservative politicians who might otherwise be wary of publicly identifying with the organization’s views.
He said the recent workplace crackdown at a pallet manufacturer that resulted in 1,100 arrests at 40 U.S. sites was part of an attempt by the Bush administration to appease the Minuteman Project and its congressional supporters. Bush supports a guest worker program.
“The debate has kind of come to them, and they’re clever enough politically to realize that,” Meyer said. “People in mainstream politics who are not associated with the Minuteman Project are essentially voicing their position, which is a victory itself.”
Illegal immigrants using churches to stage sit-ins in Belgium are turning the houses of worship into virtual mosques, says Paul Belien in the online Brussels Journal.
Belgian Roman Catholic bishops have opened up 20 churches and chapels to illegal immigrants who mostly are Muslims.
Although Belgian law requires the illegals to be expelled, the bishops are joining in the effort to pressure authorities into granting amnesty.
Some of the illegals have displayed banners heralding the name of Allah, including one that hung in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor in Brussels.
Belien comments: “The Belgian bishops are so ignorant that they do not see what is going on: Their churches are being turned into mosques before their very eyes.”
The movement gained momentum in late March when 119 asylum seekers were given residence papers after a hunger strike.
But Sunday, Belgium’s Interior Minister Patrick Dewael refused to give in to the demands despite an escalation of protest, insisting the majority of illegals should not expect to gain residence.
“Most of them simply don’t come into consideration for asylum or regularization,” he told the television show “De Zevende Dag.” “Often, they have not lodged an application, initiated no procedure or were given a negative assessment years ago.”
Catholic bishop Luc Van Looy of Ghent said the church leaders don’t want the law to change “but want it applied more efficiently and more quickly so that people without (official) papers don’t have to live for years in uncertainty.”
Dewael has called the many hunger strikes blackmail.
Belien says that while “Western Europe is turning Muslim, its Christian churches are committing suicide.”
“A Muslim would never allow his mosque to be turned into a dormitory for non-believers.”
Some church leaders, such as Fr. Christian Wynants of Church of St. Giles in Brussels, have insisted they had no knowledge beforehand that the illegals intended to occupy their buildings.
The National Catholic Reporter said last month a group of about 50 mostly illegal African migrants occupied the Church of St Giles.
“At the very least, it is a lack of manners,” Wynants said.
Police eventually removed them from the church, according to the Catholic paper.
Ali Bouchrouk, an Algerian who has a residency permit but whose wife does not, told the National Catholic Reporter the strategy is simple.
“We are in a Catholic country, thus we occupy churches. If we were in Algeria, we would occupy mosques.”
Eric de Beukelkaer, spokesman of the Belgian bishops’ conference, said church leaders were “uneasy” about the “systematic nature” of the occupations and disapproved of occupations conducted without the prior agreement of the parish priest, according to the Catholic paper.
Elsewhere in Europe, Catholic and Protestant churches are at the forefront of protests against a crackdown on illegal immigration.
The church leaders say their activities are not coordinated but simply a response to Jesus Christ’s command to care for strangers.
“There are pages of the Bible that we can’t just tear out,” said Bishop Georges Pontier of La Rochelle, France, according to Reuters.
Austen Ivereigh, spokesman for London Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, said it’s “an essential part of Catholic social teaching.”
Churches also have stood behind illegal immigrants in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Ireland.
Let’s get real basic with the immigration debate. No, I don’t mean a rerun of the debates on the economic impact or the numbers of immigrants or the difference between legal and illegal. No let’s get even more basic. Why are they here and what do they want?
The vast majority of immigrants from all over the world come here for economic opportunity. Why do they do that? Because we’re rich and they aren’t. To be more precise, we have a functioning economy that generates wealth and they don’t. Why does our economy work and theirs doesn’t? We have the rule of law and they don’t. Believe it or not, that one simple gift of our British heritage continues to pay large dividends to us and to the rest of the English-speaking world.
The rule of law means that one set of rules applies to everyone. There isn’t one set of rules for the people in power and another for the average Joe. It means that property rights are relatively secure. Whether you’re rich or poor, whether your family is in the government or in the gutter, you can buy, sell and own property and be pretty sure it will still be yours the next day. The rule of law and secure property rights creates an environment in which people can make investments, take financial risks and create wealth. We take it for granted that our savings will be in the bank where we left them. Most Americans don’t worry about leaving their homes or businesses unguarded.
How can you create corruption without really trying? Have laws that are not uniformly enforced. The principle of the rule of law says that the same laws apply to everyone, and that everyone knows roughly what the laws are and what penalties for non-compliance are. In many Third World countries, there are so many regulations that it is not possible to do business legally. Large portions of the economy operate underground, illegally, or as it is sometimes called, “informally.”
In a corrupt system, people who have connections can do better than the average Joe. If your brother-in-law is the police chief, you get your building permits and your business gets protection. If you are some poor schmuck trying to make a living, you might not. That uncertainty and that unfairness conspire to sap the energy people could be using to build better products, and in the process, hire more workers. Everything about this stifles capital formation and business development.
Enforce the Law
What does this have to do with the immigration debate? We have a set of immigration laws that are not being enforced. We also, obviously, are not enforcing our labor laws. The employers who hire illegal workers are almost certainly not in compliance with every aspect of our labor laws governing hours, wages, benefits and working conditions.
Both the immigration and labor laws lie in wait to be enforced when convenient. That’s a recipe for undermining the rule of law, the key thing that makes us richer than the rest of the world. This is true, regardless of the exact content of the laws. Any laws you don’t intend to enforce or that you intend to enforce selectively, invite corruption.
But as we look at how the immigration debate is unfolding, there are even more reasons to be concerned about the rule of law. The mass demonstrations of the past weeks reveal a much more sinister development: the arrival of French-style street politics in America.
Look at the control the French public employee unions have over public policy. More than a million people came out in the street to oppose a law that is an entirely reasonable attempt to deal with youth unemployment, which has been over 20% for a decade. The French public employee unions organize the students to fill the streets, scare the government and control the “debate.” It is policy-making through intimidation. France is a banana republic with bad weather. If the Left has its way, it will be coming to a street near you.
Left-wing groups are actively working the immigration debate. Leftist unions and organizations worked behind the scenes of the high school demonstrations of the past weeks. Think about it: a network of e-mails went out over the week-end of March 24-25. The next week, high school kids from all across the country “spontaneously” ditched school, aided and abetted by left-wing groups, including, in Los Angeles’ case, their own school officials.
The DC Clergy prayer service to support illegal immigrants was sponsored almost entirely by left-wing activist groups, cloaked in a thin veil of Christianity. The Center for Community Change, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, La Raza and other groups sponsored the prayer rally. These groups are far more about anti-American politics than they are about the Christian gospel.
My real fear about immigration is the continual importation of people who will be clients of the welfare state and the political apparatus that supports it. My parish has a lot of Mexicans. I love them. They could save the Catholic Church in America. It is a privilege to worship with them. On the other hand, I can’t stand the thought of Mexicans becoming lifelong clients of the radical left, with their identity politics, their self-righteous anti-Americanism, and their entitlement mentality. Whatever you believe about the balance between controlling the future flow of migrants and humanity to those already here, the introduction of French-style street politics is an ominous development.
If we import third world politics, we will destroy our first world economy. And everyone, native-born and immigrant alike, will be worse off for that.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is a Senior Fellow in Economics at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World.
The House’s lead negotiator on immigration yesterday called the Senate legislation passed last week “amnesty” for illegal aliens that his chamber will not accept, setting up a showdown between the House and the Senate, which have passed widely differing bills.
The Senate bill mirrors the House version in its provisions to tighten border security, but includes a “guest-worker” program proposed by President Bush and offers illegals in the United States what proponents call a “path to citizenship.”
“The words ‘path to citizenship’ is a buzzword for amnesty. We ought to be honest, it is amnesty,” said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“What the Senate [has done is] throw up their hands, say, ‘Give them amnesty’ ... and allow them to stay. That’s not fair because it gives a reward to a lawbreaker, but it also is unfair to people who are standing in queue to become legal immigrants.”
Asked whether he would accept a compromise bill that allows a path to citizenship, Mr. Sensenbrenner responded with a flat “no.”
“Amnesty is wrong, and we should not pass it,” he said.
He supports the bill passed by the House, which is mostly limited to border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens.
“What we have to do is first secure the border, and then we have to turn off the magnet that brings more illegal immigrants into our country. Once we do that, and we know it’s effective, then we can figure out what to do with the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants that are already here,” he said.
The congressman said the Senate bill, unlike the House version, does not require employers to verify documents provided by illegal aliens, “so they can just keep their jobs forever.”
“If we have a workable and effective employer-sanctions program, then I think a lot of the illegal immigrants would simply go back home, because they would no longer be able to work in this country,” he said.
But Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, said the Senate bill provides a comprehensive approach to dealing with illegal immigration, and he rejected Mr. Sensenbrenner’s conclusion on the bipartisan bill, which passed with nearly two-thirds support.
“Amnesty. That’s nonsense,” Mr. Hagel said.
He said the Senate bill is tough because it would require all immigrant workers to have a tamperproof identification card and would not be able to find employment without it. Focusing immigration legislation purely on border enforcement ignores the broader problem, he said.
“To just walk away from it and say, ‘Well, we’re going to enforce our borders first and then maybe we’ll get to the rest of it,’ we fail the American public,” Mr. Hagel said.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is mulling a presidential run in 2008, said he could accept a phased-in compromise: enforcement first, then reconsidering a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship.
“I personally would, because I think, first and foremost, you’ve got to lock down the borders. You can’t allow this hemorrhaging of millions of people,” the Tennessee Republican said.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate minority whip, said he agreed that border enforcement has to be the first priority and that employers must be reminded they will be held accountable if they hire illegal workers, a law passed in 1986 but sporadically enforced.
“And then, finally, we have to deal with the people who are here living in the shadows. It’s not amnesty. It’s not automatic,” Mr. Durbin said. “As Senator Frist explained, it’s a long, tough process that many of them will not complete successfully, but at least gives them a chance.”
Under the Senate bill, illegal aliens who have been in the country five years or more can continue working and eventually become legal permanent residents and citizens after paying at least $3,250 in fines and fees and back taxes and learning English.
The illegal aliens in the U.S. from two to five years would be required to go to a point of entry at the border and file an application to return. Those in the country less than two years would be required to leave.
Both chambers have provisions that increase the fine for employers who hire illegal aliens. The Senate bill would increase maximum fines to $20,000 for each illegal worker, while the House bill would increase the maximum fine to $40,000 per violation.
A Boston beauty salon was more bloody than beautiful this weekend when a brawl broke out over a customer speaking Spanish.
“Speak English! This is America!” one woman reportedly screamed at another at Kathy’s Nail Design in the Dorchester section of the city.
The remark ignited a massive melee at the salon, with numerous women engaging in manicure-to-manicure combat.
“Ten years in this country, I never seen anything like this. The lady says ‘Speak English, I don’t want to hear Spanish!’ and big fight happens,” shop owner David Win told the Boston Herald. “There was blood in here and everything. There were a lot of customers in here. It [was] crazy.”
Friday’s incident prompted a call to 9-1-1, and an officer dispatched to break up the battle received scratches on his neck and arm.
Police say it began as one of the suspects, Sonia Pina, 20, was speaking Spanish to her cousin when another woman, Nakeisha Prichard, 20, went on the attack. Within minutes, at least four women were engaged in the salon scuffle.
“The two suspects began to argue and a fight ensued,” said police spokeswoman Sharon Dottin.
Prichard allegedly pulled off her pump and began beating Pina with it, explaining to police, “I accidentally took my shoe off and hit her with it after she punched me.”
She ended up with charges of assault and battery, resisting arrest, and assault on a police officer, inflicted by her newly manicured fake acrylic nails.
Pina was charged with assault and battery for allegedly punching Prichard in the face.
Later in the evening, the salon was packed with people conversing in several languages, including Vietnamese, Spanish, Portuguese and English.
“A lot of people are angry with us, but they are just stressed out with their own lives and taking it out on the immigrant people,” Carmen Riveira, 28, a native of the Dominican Republic now living in Dorchester, told the Herald. “I pay my money to get my nails done. I can speak any language I want in here.”
Another customer, Kristine DaRosa, 18, of Dorchester, said her family would be directly affected by the immigration-reform bill currently before Congress. One of her uncles is being deported to their native Cape Verde.
“All kinds of fights are going on because of this,” said DaRosa. “People should just give everybody a chance.”
WASHINGTON — Americans hold strong and conflicting views about immigration that underscore the difficulties Congress will face in reaching a final legislative deal on the issue, an analysis of USA TODAY polling data shows.
ON DEADLINE: Which group are you in?
The public splits into separate camps over whether illegal immigrants should be able to work toward citizenship, whether they help or hurt the economy — even whether immigration is an urgent problem that must be addressed.
Those disagreements are reflected in the Senate immigration bill that passed Thursday and the House bill, passed in December, which takes a tougher approach. A conference committee will try to resolve conflicts between the two measures on the issue, President Bush’s top domestic priority before Congress.
A USA TODAY breakdown of public opinion, based on Gallup polls taken in April and May, finds Americans falling into four clusters that are roughly equal in size but vary dramatically in point of view. The groups can be characterized as “hard-liners,” “unconcerned,” “ambivalent” and “welcoming.”
“You’re talking about irreconcilable groups that represent substantial parts of the population,” says Roberto Suro, director of the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center. “A compromise that 50% of the population can go for leaves half the public feeling unhappy, and very unhappy.”
Among the findings in the USA TODAY analysis:
• Traditional partisanship doesn’t drive views on immigration. Gender, education and family history seem to do as much to shape attitudes as political party or ideology. Significant numbers of liberals and conservatives are divided among three of the four groups. Moderates spread across all four.
In Congress, too, partisanship doesn’t rule on this issue. Republicans are particularly divided: 23 Senate Republicans voted for the immigration bill, 32 voted against it.
• Those who want to take the toughest steps against illegal immigration also feel the most urgency about the subject. Two-thirds of the “hard-liners” call the issue “extremely important.” No one in the most lenient group, the “unconcerned,” feels that way.
The intensity of their views magnifies the clout of those most opposed to citizenship programs. “They project a loud voice,” says Frank Sharry of the pro-immigrant National Immigration Forum.
“The people whose political decisions are based on a candidate’s immigration stance are mainly pro-control, pro-enforcement people,” says Mark Kirkorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports tougher enforcement.
The “hard-liners” are also the most Republican group? one reason many House Republicans, especially those considered at risk in November’s elections, may be reluctant to compromise.
• The four groups are starkly at odds on basic issues, making it difficult to see common ground. No one in the “hard-liner” group supports a proposal to allow illegal immigrants to work toward citizenship, but more than three-fourths of those in the other three groups do. The Senate bill includes such a provision; the House bill doesn’t.
In two of the four groups, overwhelming majorities say removing illegal immigrants would hurt the economy. In the other two groups, solid majorities say it would help.
by Matt Towery
As they face terrible polling numbers, Republicans have evolved the conventional wisdom that they are in more danger of losing the U.S. House than they are the Senate.
This presents Republican incumbents in the House with the prospect of an unconventional strategy. They might be well-advised to run a spirited campaign against, in effect, the Republican-led Senate and, indirectly, even their own president.
As it was designed to, the House has been feeling more of the immediate wrath of the public on matters such as taxes, the budget and especially immigration.
I have tried to argue that some kind of immigration policy that accommodates legal guest workers is necessary to prevent rising inflation and the crippling of certain industries key to the U.S. economy. One of those industries, housing, is already showing signs of a significant slowdown in some areas.
But that’s looking at the situation from a broad policy perspective. Many polls show that Americans want a harsher approach to immigration than they see coming from the White House or the Senate.
Many of the congressional districts where Republicans are considered potentially vulnerable are ones that have been drawn to favor GOP candidates. The biggest risk to incumbents in these districts is that independents will turn out in droves to vote against them. Another (worse) possibility is that core conservatives might turn against them because of concerns with spiraling deficits, the lack of bona fide tax reform and, most of all, the perceived awarding of amnesty to lawbreaking illegal aliens now living in the United States.
And with the Senate leadership singing the praises of the immigration bill, including Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts in a post-vote press appearance, it is becoming increasingly clear that House members are being left to fend for themselves on this critical issue.
With President Bush’s approval ratings so low, it’s likely the most effective attack ad that Democrats will mount against GOP House candidates will be simply to show a picture of whatever Republican is being portrayed — with his or her arms wrapped around the president.
Usually, that’s a good thing for the president’s party. But when the electorate has turned surly and the president’s approval ratings are in the toilet, such high-profile photos can turn into political weaponry for the other side.
With time slipping away for Republicans to save themselves by passing meaningful legislation, those in closely contested U.S. House races would be well-served to start crafting the age-old, tried-and-true, brutal campaign strategy of castigating and dissociating themselves from “the GOP Senate leadership.”
This may sound disloyal, but in emergency situations, such moves can be all that’s left.
Better still might be a strong legislative stand right now. Not just a rhetorically strong stand — as in, “we’re going to stand tough by reworking a conference version of the Senate bill, so that the upper chamber gets what it wants” — but a true line in the sand that forces the Senate and the White House to conclude that, for once, they are not going to get what they want.
There is little doubt that the core GOP conservative base wants the U.S. borders sealed off. And they expect those who illegally entered the country to be treated as having broken the law.
That doesn’t mean these admitted lawbreakers can’t necessarily meet the criteria to eventually become citizens.
But if Republican candidates expect their voting base to believe that illegal aliens should somehow pay little or no price for staying here, then these GOP incumbents are on automatic pilot when they should be navigating by dead reckoning.
With war, energy squeezes and the impact of cheap foreign labor on U.S. workers, it’s fair to say the Republican voting base that has sustained the party since the days of Ronald Reagan is close to fed up with concepts like globalism.
It’s sad for the Republican Party, but its clearest path to holding on to the House of Representatives may well be to throw the White House and the Senate under the bus.
Believe me, this sentiment is already being widely expressed in private conversations among House members and others. It wouldn’t take much to craft those grumblings into a political message that’s suitable for public consumption.
By Alex Alexiev
Whether or not the U.S. Senate takes up the immigration-reform debate in the coming weeks, it is certain that the subject will be a central issue in the coming electoral season. And the most heated debate will undoubtedly focus on the main proposition of the Kennedy-McCain bill—namely, that amnesty for many, if not most, of the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is a prerequisite for the success of any effective immigration reform. Even though most advocates of this bill would strenuously deny that it is about amnesty, they nonetheless take it as an article of faith that a large-scale amnesty is both essential for and greatly beneficial to America. They are, of course, free to do so, but the rest of us need not make the same mistake. For even if we disregard our own experience with the 1986 amnesty and its various follow-ups, there is a large and growing body of empirical evidence in Europe going back two decades that proves beyond much doubt that amnesties, far from being part of the solution to illegal immigration, in fact contribute to it. It behooves us to pay close attention to it, because, despite a very different historical experience, Europe’s current immigration system is quite similar to ours and is just as dysfunctional.
Unlike America, few countries in Europe have historically been immigrant destinations. Some had a large number of “guest workers” arrive in the 50s and 60s, yet to this day most do not have orderly, long-term immigration programs. Instead, the Europeans have pursued policies that encourage massive illegal immigration and then compound the problem by legalizing it. They do so by providing generous public assistance to illegal immigrants, tolerating large-scale abuse of asylum laws, failing to deport those apprehended, and granting periodic amnesties which trigger ever larger inflows.
As in the U.S., every amnesty is accompanied by earnest assurances that it is the very last one and by promises of a severe crackdown on illegal immigration that will solve the problem once and for all. Invariably, the argument is also made that legalizing the undocumented will bring them into the mainstream economy, providing much needed labor and a major boost in tax revenues for the state. The reality is the exact opposite.
European Union countries legalized approximately 1.75 million immigrants up through 2000, and between 3.5 and 4 million since then. Despite that, illegal immigration is increasing dramatically. Spain carried out four amnesties between 1985 and 2000, and yet, in 2003 it had 1.3 million legal immigrants and more than twice as many illegal ones. A year ago it amnestied yet another 700,000 to no visible reduction of illegal entries. In December, thousands of would-be immigrants stormed the ten-foot-tall, razorblade-wire fences surrounding the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco. Similarly, between 1986 and 2002, Italy legalized a million and a half immigrants in five separate amnesties without stemming at all the yearly inflow of well over 500,000 illegal immigrants. The same is the case in Portugal, Greece, France, and every other country that practices amnesties. And there is no reason to expect anything different if fully two-thirds of illegal entrants eventually obtain legalization, the odds of deportation are negligible, and the wait for legalization can be spent in the relative comfort of the European welfare system or its illegal economy.
The last point is worth pondering, because it is simply not the case that amnesties bring millions from the underground economy eager to pay the exorbitant taxes the nanny state collects from those working in order to nanny those that are not. The reason there is an underground economy to begin with is because neither employers nor employees are eager to cough up payroll taxes that average 36% in the EU. Indeed, with these kinds of confiscatory levies, the often unskilled and uneducated illegal immigrant becomes unemployable in the regular economy. The result is a huge influx of illegal workers in the now-depleted shadow economy, which is one reason it is rapidly growing both in Europe and North America. According to expert estimates, it has more than doubled in the past 20 years and currently ranges from 8.4% of GDP in the U.S. to 14.5% in France, 16.8% in Germany, and nearly one-third of GDP in high immigration countries like Italy.
There is yet another lesson of the amnesty phenomenon in Europe that is of key relevance to our own immigration debate, even if it’s seldom discussed. Figures usually bandied about in amnesty discussions are highly misleading; in practice, legalizing one illegal alien means eventually providing legal entry documents to several times as many. Through family reunification and what demographers call “chain migration,” every legalized immigrant in Europe eventually brings with him three to five of his own immediate family, who in turn bring more relatives. Throw in arranged and fictitious marriages and the migration chain becomes very long indeed. The vast majority of the 1.7 million immigrants who entered the European Union legally last year were just such chain migrants. In the United States itself, chain migration already makes up close to 70% of all legal immigration.
Keep that in mind when the politicians tell you that what’s needed is just one more amnesty of ten million illegal aliens. At the very least, the American people deserve to know that the real figure is anywhere between 30 and 50 million.
—Alex Alexiev is vice president for research of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.
Today’s May Day general strike by illegal aliens and their supporters should help clarify the Senate’s immigration deliberations. The question before senators, as they seek to pass an immigration bill before Memorial Day, no longer concerns the specifics of policy—how much border fencing, the period of work for guestworkers, etc.
The question now is whether the government of the United States will give in to the mob.
France recently answered that question in the affirmative (for the umpteenth time), when Chirac backed down from his comically small employment reforms in the wake of mass protests. In Latin America, street protests have toppled two presidents in Bolivia since 2003 and one in Ecuador last year.
But the use of direct action to intimidate lawmakers is largely alien to American experience. The civil-rights marches, which the illegal-alien movement frequently points to as its inspiration, were explicitly patriotic and constitutional affairs. The 1963 march on Washington didn’t feature foreign flags and racist, anti-American signs; on the contrary, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech pointed to the promise of “the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,” written by “the architects of our Republic,” and his peroration was based on the lyrics of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”
The illegal-alien marches, starting almost two months ago in Chicago, have more in common with the anti-war marches of the 1960s in their hostility to the American constitutional order. Prominent among the organizers of the street actions have been CISPES, the ANSWER Coalition, and other communist organizations, with CAIR and its ilk joining in, Subcomandante Marcos sending Zapatistas to protest at our embassy in Mexico City—and even Mumia Abu-Jamal expressing his solidarity!
Of course, both the civil-rights and antiwar protests of the 1960s were by Americans demanding the attention of their fellow countrymen. By contrast, the illegal-alien marchers are morally identical to burglars demanding that the homeowner rearrange the furniture. And part of that rearranging became clear last week when a Spanish-language rewrite of the national anthem was released (by a producer with his own colorful Marxist backstory). And Mexico, following the example of Muslim countries boycotting Danish products, is expecting a boycott of American products, called the “Nothing Gringo” campaign.
The illegal-alien marches resemble the Vietnam protests in another way—they’re backfiring. Just as the antiwar movement’s hatred of America caused a backlash that prolonged the war, the illegal-alien marches are hardening attitudes against illegals. A recent poll shows that the earlier marches made respondents less likely, by two-to-one, to be sympathetic to amnesty. The illegal-alien anthem has been denounced by President Bush (of all people), and a resolution is likely to be introduced today by Sen. Lamar Alexander affirming that “that statements or songs that symbolize the unity of the American Nation, including the National Anthem, the Oath of Allegiance sworn by new U.S. citizens, and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States, should be recited or sung in the common language of the United States: English.” (I boldly predict this will be approved.)
The marches are moving black Americans to finally speak out against mass immigration; Los Angeles homeless activist Ted Hayes, for instance, has organized the Crispus Attucks Brigade of the Minuteman Project. And the “Nothing Gringo” campaign in Mexico has prompted a “Nothing Mexican” backlash for Cinco de Mayo.
The more mainstream pro-amnesty forces understand the potential for an intensified anti-illegal backlash from today’s marches, which is why many did not join in. One amnesty supporter said the May Day offensive “could further polarize the debate and make reform supporters seem anti-American just as lobbyists are trying to persuade lawmakers in Washington to pass a bill that would benefit immigrants.”
This concern, though, is too little, too late. At this point, an immigration vote in the Senate will not, and should not, be about the particulars of policy. Rather, a vote for anything other than an enforcement-only bill would represent a surrender to the mob, a capitulation to the illegal-alien will to power. There will be plenty of time in coming years for Congress to debate the legitimate questions of legalization or guestworker programs—but now it’s time for senators to push back and pass an enforcement-only bill, to make clear that in the United States, laws are made in the Capitol, not in the streets.
—Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and an NRO contributor.
Amid the heated rhetoric and dubious claims made on both sides of the immigration debate – that any concerns about immigration are evidence of racism, that immigrants are ruining the economy – we should all take a deep breath and call to mind the following points:
There is a right to immigrate, but it is not absolute.
Immigrants are people of great dignity, most of them are very poor, and we should not exclude their interests from our discussions about immigration policy. They have a claim on the generosity of a generous people. Their claim is not absolute, however, if they impose large burdens on U.S. natives, who are also people of great dignity, some of whom are also poor. Even a generous nation may restrict immigration if it becomes too great a burden. The recent debate has focused on the nature and size of those burdens.
The economic stakes of immigration are small.
Immigration benefits employers who hire cheaper labor, and consumers who buy products made with that labor. The benefits are small, though – less than 0.5% of national income. Neither are the education and healthcare burdens on states and cities particularly large -$10 billion, compared to state and local budgets of $1.5 trillion – but they are unfairly concentrated on a handful of states and localities.
The argument that the U.S economy will grind to a halt without immigration is simply not true. Neither is the argument that immigration is ruining the economy. Although it does put modest downward pressure on unskilled wages, the numbers are too small (3-4% over 20 years) to require a policy response. If immigration ceased tomorrow, some of the jobs immigrants do would disappear – farmers and businesses would find ways to produce without cheap labor, and more homeowners would mow their own lawns (or pay my kids to do it!). Some of the jobs would be taken by native workers, at modestly higher wages. Anyone looking for burdens from immigration will have to look outside of the economy.
Illegal immigration is the real issue.
One in 25 people in the United States (12 million) are here in violation of our laws. Such widespread flouting of immigration law is understandably disquieting; it strikes at U.S. sovereignty. We should either enforce our immigration quotas, or repeal them. The presence of so many illegals corrupts our law enforcement, our politics, and our economy, and it undermines our ability to protect ourselves from terrorists. This corruption is the biggest threat from illegal immigration.
We can address this problem by increasing the number of legal immigrants or by enforcing current quotas. The small economic stakes argue for a moderate increase in the number of immigrants we allow in legally.
Enforcement is crucial, even if we increase legal immigration.
The 1986 immigration reforms tied amnesty for illegal immigrants to a stricter enforcement regime, but the enforcement never materialized. As a result, we now have more illegal immigrants than ever. We won’t solve this problem until we start making sure that employers are hiring legal immigrants. And for all the talk of “border enforcement,” we’ll have to do more than build high fences – high fences without internal enforcement leads to permanent illegal immigration, because no one wants to jump the fence a second time. Internal enforcement without a fence will work much better than a fence without internal enforcement.
The sheer size of immigration flows, and their increasing illegal nature, make Americans feel as if we can’t afford to be generous to the world’s poor at our doorstep. A clear view of the issues contradicts this assessment. The biggest burdens from immigration are not economic – they are the turmoil caused by the large numbers of illegal immigrants. Most Americans are rightly concerned about the chaos that illegal immigration brings to our politics and our legal system. Addressing the problem of illegal immigrants will solve most of our immigration problems, and will allow Americans to give fuller rein to their generous impulses toward immigrants.
Andrew Yuengert is the John and Francis Duggan chair of economics at Seaver College, Pepperdine University. He is the author of “Inhabiting the Land – The Case for the Right to Migrate,” a study on immigration published in 2003 by the Acton Institute. He is currently the president of the Association of Christian Economists.
DAKAR, Senegal — Authorities in Europe and Africa yesterday drew up a joint plan to fight illegal migration that will combine tougher prevention measures with more aid to persuade young Africans to stay in their homelands.
Harrowing images of parched, exhausted young Africans washing ashore in boats on Spain’s Canary Islands by the thousands this year have given added urgency to moves to improve international cooperation to combat clandestine emigration.
Hundreds are thought to die in the perilous sea voyages of more than 600 miles organized from Mauritania and Senegal by traffickers who run a lucrative business carrying would-be migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
Starting a two-day meeting in the Senegalese capital, senior officials from more than 50 countries of Europe and Africa worked yesterday on a joint action plan that foresees an integrated multinational strategy on migration.
The plan — originally drafted by Morocco, Spain and France, three countries in the front line of the immigration problem — is expected to be adopted by European and African ministers at a summit on migration July 10 and 11 in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
“This is a political initiative of the highest importance that aims to combine both managing migrant flows and managing development,” said Alvaro Iranzo, a senior Spanish Foreign Ministry official.
On Europe’s southern flank facing Africa, Spain is the first target of thousands of penniless sub-Saharan Africans seeking entry to Europe, and Madrid has begun a diplomatic offensive in West Africa to try to stanch the flow.
But while coastal patrols and surveillance can cut illegal departures, European and African experts agree that such short-term measures will be useless unless the unemployment, poverty and conflict that prompt migration from Africa are tackled.
“If we don’t go to the root causes, there’s not going to be a solution,” Moroccan delegation chief Youssef Amrani said.
Delegates said the novelty of the joint European-African migration initiative was that destination, origin and transit countries were coming together to seek solutions.
“This affects us all. We need a global response,” Mr. Amrani said.
Although a consensus exists for joint action, delegates said they expected discussions on how to find a balance between improved controls to halt illegal migration and long-term measures to help poor countries whose young people were leaving.
The draft plan calls for aid and trade with Africa to attack the root causes of migration and help keep young Africans in their own countries.
But it also proposes stronger police and security cooperation on land, sea and air to crack down on migrant-smuggling networks, which Senegal Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom condemned as “modern-day slavers.”
The draft document also refers to the need for “readmission agreements,” which will allow receiving countries to send back illegal or undesirable migrants to their nations of origin.
Senegal last week suspended repatriation flights from the Canaries, saying its migrants had been mistreated by Spanish authorities. Madrid denied this.
In a related development, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released yesterday showed that despite the fierce political debate in the United States on immigration, American attitudes toward immigrants are considerably more positive than in several European countries.
People in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are much more inclined than those in the United States to think immigrants are likely to get involved in criminal activity.
“Often the immigrants come here and can’t find work; they are forced to become criminals,” said Leonardo Delogu, a doctor from Sardinia who was visiting Rome.
More than a third of Germans, Italians and Spaniards think immigrants are more likely to be involved in criminal activity than people born in their countries. A fourth in France and Britain feel that way.
Those European countries are about evenly divided on whether immigrants are a good influence. In general, people who have higher incomes and are more educated are more likely to say immigrants are a good influence.
In the United States, 52% think immigrants are a good influence on the country. Only about one in 10 Americans thinks immigrants are more likely to be involved in crime, according to the poll.
HAZLETON, Pa. — Illegal immigrants seeking to make a home in this northeastern Pennsylvania city could face barriers to finding a home and job after the city council passed one of the nation’s strictest ordinances to fight illegal immigration.
City documents would be printed in English, landlords would face $1,000 fines for each illegal immigrant found renting their properties and business who employ illegal immigrants wouldn’t be granted licenses.
The ordinance, designed to make the city one of the most hostile in the country for illegal immigrants, passed on a 4-to-1 vote after two hours of passionate debate.
“The illegal citizens, I would recommend they leave,” said Mayor Lou Barletta, who said he wore a bulletproof vest to the vote as a precaution because the issue was emotionally charged.
The measure has divided the former coal town about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia and thrust the 31,000-population city to the fore of the national debate on illegal immigration. After the vote, hundreds of people on both sides of the issue congregated outside City Hall, separated by a line of police officers brought in anticipation of any trouble.
Barletta proposed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act last month as a response to what he said were Hazleton’s problems with violent crime, crowded schools, hospital costs and the demand for services. Opponents argued it was divisive and possibly illegal, but supporters argued illegal immigrants’ growing numbers have damaged the quality of life in this northeastern Pennsylvania city.
“What you see here tonight, really, is a city that wants to take back what America has given it,” Barletta said.
Outside City Hall, about people gathered with opponents of the measure, some with signs that read “Bias,” separated by a line of police from supporters, some waving American flags.
Anna Arias asked the council, “Are any of us ready to support U.S. citizens born of someone who is undocumented?” Several people in the audience responded, “Yes!”
She warned the council that approving the ordinance would make Hazleton “the first Nazi city in the country.”
The ordinance adopted at the meeting had been extensively amended from an earlier draft; one change would deny a license to any business that provides goods or services to an illegal immigrant. City solicitor Christopher B. Slusser said the provision would likely be invoked only against business people who knowingly violated it, and the city would deal with violators “on a case-by-case basis.”
The number of Hispanic residents in Hazleton has increased dramatically in the past six years. City officials acknowledge they do not know how many are illegal immigrants, whom Barletta has blamed for higher crime rates, failing schools and a diminished quality of life.
In a letter sent to Barletta earlier this week, attorneys with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund threatened to sue on the grounds that the ordinance infringes upon the federal government’s power to regulate immigration.
Other municipalities across the country also have considered acting to address illegal immigration. Ordinances similar to the Hazleton measure have been proposed in the Florida communities of Palm Bay and Avon Park and the California towns of Escondido and San Bernardino.
Carolina Taveras, a 30-year-old naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic who moved to Hazleton from New York City a year ago, said the mayor’s proposal has made her feel unwelcome.
A few doors down from where Taveras was getting her hair done at a downtown beauty salon that caters to Hispanic women, restaurant owner George Giannakouros said he is sympathetic to Barletta’s approach.
“I agree with the mayor, there is a problem,” Giannakouros said. “I work at my business at night, I like to feel safe.”
By Phyllis Schlafly
What is the United States of America? Is it merely an accident of geography, or a job market for the world, or a multiethnic, multilingual lot of people who agreed (more or less, and probably temporarily) to live under a constitution? Those aren’t goals to die for; yet many men for centuries have fought and died for America. Where did they get the courage, the stamina, and the perseverance to create and maintain America as an oasis of freedom and prosperity in a hostile world?
Patrick Buchanan believes that America is fundamentally a nation “held together by bonds of history and memory, tradition and custom, language and literature, birth and faith.” Those bonds of brotherhood and ancestry existed before the U.S. Constitution was written, and sustained us through wars and economic depressions.
In his newest book, Buchanan challenges us to ponder our national identity, which already existed in the hearts of Americans when the Founding Fathers proclaimed the sovereignty of “we the people.” Because we are now in critical danger of losing our identity, the apt title of his book is “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America” (Thomas Dunne Books: $25).
Buchanan rejects the notion that American identity is merely “creedal,” i.e., united only by a common commitment to the U.S. Constitution and a set of basic laws. Even if that were true, it clearly would exclude the illegal aliens who violate our laws every day.
Buchanan agrees with Harvard professor Samuel Huntington that the “central issue of our time” is the migration into America of millions of people who come from very different cultures and refuse to adapt to ours. Buchanan calls the unprecedented entry of legal and illegal foreign born during the last 10 years a tsunami, unlike any wave ever seen in the history of the world.
The melting pot metaphor is a thing of the past. Today the United States is admitting people who don’t want to be part of the nation called the United States; they want a land that looks like the United Nations General Assembly.
The immigrants who came from Europe in previous centuries fully assimilated, but many of today’s immigrants instead are “self-segregating, forming their own towns within our cities, maintaining their language and identifying with one another, not America.” They maintain their loyalty to their native land.
Is Western Europe a picture of America’s future? Buchanan says that continent can now be called Eurabia because the civilization of Western Europe is fast folding under the dramatic fall in the native birth rate and entry of 20 million unassimilated Muslims.
Closer to home, Los Angeles may be a model of what America is to become. 61% in the City of Angels speak a language other than English at home, which means they don’t listen to English-language radio and TV programs, don’t get their news from English-language newspapers and magazines, and don’t share our heroes, history or holidays.
Those millions of migrants are putting on the chopping block our culture, including its morality, language, history, health, education, economic practices, and rule of law.
Many people dismissed the term “reconquista” as just the hysterical tirade of radical Mexicans, but Huntington warns us, “Demographically, socially, and culturally, the “reconquista” of the Southwest United States ... is well under way.”
Mexicans have been taught that the United States “stole” the Southwest from Mexico. A 2002 Zogby poll found that 58% of Mexicans believe that the Southwest “belongs” to Mexico.
There was a time when our President, Theodore Roosevelt, could say: “There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism ... a hyphenated American is not an American at all.... The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.”
Today, our elites celebrate diversity rather than U.S. ideals and identity. To justify the enormous numbers of foreign-born entering the United States, legally and illegally, we are reminded ad nauseam that we are a nation of immigrants.
However, immigrants, legal and illegal, don’t come to America because of our diversity of residents, but because we are a land of freedom and opportunity. Most of the creators of our unique land were not immigrants.
Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 48 were native-born Americans and two of the others came to this country as babies. Of the 39 signers of the U.S. Constitution, 32 were native-born Americans, and the few signers of both documents who were not native-born all came from Great Britain or British colonies.
The most diversity we had in the founding of America was that some came from big states like Massachusetts and some from small states like Delaware. “State of Emergency” lists all the obvious solutions: no amnesty, a border fence, eliminate birthright citizenship and taxpayer-paid social benefits, prohibit dual citizenship, require businesses to match employees’ Social Security numbers, and time-out on legal immigration.
The book also contains all the facts about the failure of our government to stop the tsunami that has rolled over our country during the Bush presidency: the crime, the costs, the diseases, the drugs, the displacements. His book will convince you that we are, indeed, in a “State of Emergency.”
By The Editors
“We all know that this bill is going nowhere. We are wasting our time,” declared Minority Whip Steny Hoyer when he joined the 138 House Democrats who voted against the Secure Fence Act in early September. Hoyer let liberal wishful thinking triumph over reality. On Thursday morning, President Bush signed exactly that authorization to build a 700-mile fence along the southern border.
The bill that went nowhere was the “comprehensive” reform, favored by President Bush and congressional Democrats, that granted amnesty to millions and guest-worker status to millions more. The House Republicans’ enforcement-first approach to immigration reform — at least a piece of it — won decisively when the Secure Fence Act passed the Senate by a margin of 80-1. But the battle isn’t over; it’s merely suspended. The enforcement agenda will lose decisively if the next immigration-reform bill President Bush signs is the handiwork of Speaker Pelosi’s House Democrats.
Rep. Hoyer had plenty of company when he dismissed the prospect that the enforcement-first agenda could triumph over all the influential lobbies in favor of amnesty for illegal aliens and the business community’s insistence on a guest-worker program. Elite opinion held that the House Republicans’ position was politically poisonous. Illegals marched in the streets, and the talk was of an inevitable House Republican backdown. But the public’s engagement in the first debate on immigration policies in 20 years revealed widespread support for border control. In competitive races across the country, candidates of both parties are now declaring their opposition to amnesty and backing barriers at the border.
In addition to the fencing, the Secure Fence Act also requires the Department of Homeland Security to gain “operational control” of the entire southern border through the use of unmanned aerial drones, cameras, and ground sensors. “Doesn’t the president have enough swagger to tell [House Speaker Dennis Hastert] not to do this?” asked Minority Leader Harry Reid on the eve of the House vote. It turned out that Reid lacked the swagger to keep most of his own troops from defecting to the enforcement-first camp. Although congressional Democrats fought to hold border security hostage to an amnesty scheme and new guest-worker program, they were overmatched by the public’s demand, and the House Republicans’ resolve, to avoid the mistakes of the past by securing the border before undertaking broader reforms.
At stake in this election is whether this sentiment will continue to prevail, or whether a Democratic majority in the House — backed by elite opinion — will again take U.S. immigration policy the opposite, more liberal direction. Comprehensive immigration reform already enjoys President’s Bush’s endorsement and filibuster-proof support in the Senate. Passing an amnesty and guest-worker bill as a companion to the Secure Fence Act would be at the top of Speaker Pelosi’s agenda. It’s impossible to predict all the consequences of a congressional Democratic majority, but a win for congressional Democrats will clearly be a win for amnesty.
On the issue of immigration, majorities of Republicans in both the Senate and House have sided with their conservative base against not just left-wing civil-rights groups and elite opinion, but also a business lobby accustomed to plenty of cheap labor, Republican-party poobahs, and President Bush. They have withstood withering press criticism and pressure from their deep-pocketed donors. It has been a dispiriting session of Congress, but on this crucial issue, congressional Republicans have acted with courage and commitment. If only on the basis of immigration, they deserve their own amnesty from conservative voters disenchanted by other GOP disappointments and failures.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
“Texans aren’t whiners,” Johnny Sutton told me. Still, forgive him if he sounds a bit frustrated.
Sutton is the top federal law-enforcement officer in one of the nation’s most notorious border badlands. Day in and day out, while no one was paying much attention to the dusty Rio Grande towns outside El Paso, he has been the U.S. Border Patrol’s staunchest ally.
A solid law-and-order conservative, Sutton’s position, United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, is a unique perch from which to appreciate hundreds of dedicated Border Patrol agents, to grasp in a real way — not a bandwagon way, but a rubber-meets-the-road way — that these men and women truly are our last line of defense against the hordes for whom our political elites are determined to put out a big, fat welcome-mat reading “AMNESTY.”
He has thus vigorously supported them. Sutton’s office prosecutes their cases against alien smugglers and narcotics importers at an impressive clip. It is not for nothing, moreover, that badlands are called “badlands.” Illegals and their facilitators routinely assault the agents. Frequently, there is gunfire. Sutton knows the outnumbered agents have to be able to defend themselves and impose what passes for order. Since he’s been U.S. attorney, there have been several incidents in which agents have shot at hostiles, including four resulting in fatalities. In each, Sutton’s office investigated the matter thoroughly and the agents were cleared without charges being filed.
So why are some Border Patrol agents vilifying Sutton today? Why are they joined by a full-throated chorus of union reps, anti-immigration activists, media heavyweights, and a small but vocal cabal of mostly Republican congressmen? Because two rogues who had no business wearing badges and carrying guns have managed to entangle their gross malfeasance in the impassioned politics of immigration, that’s why.
The sordid details that should condemn these corrupt agents — agents who make the jobs of honest law-enforcement officers galactically harder both in the field and in the courtroom — have been obscured by layers of hyperbole. Hyperbole by which they’ve ludicrously been portrayed as “heroes.” Truth be damned, they have somehow managed to make themselves the rallying cry for Americans enraged by their government’s conscious avoidance — indeed, its active facilitation — of exploding illegal immigration and all its consequent social maladies.
Most ironic of all, this farce owes to the outrage that most offends us: Mexican drug pushers who enter illegally to peddle their poison north of the border. The kind of low-lifes Sutton prosecutes in droves, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the Border Patrol.
One such dope-smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, is at the center of the storm around the two mythologized agents. The propaganda version holds that Aldrete-Davila got off scot-free, while our brave “heroes,” agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, are serving heavy-duty jail-time for just doing their jobs.
That’s just not the truth.
FACT VERSUS FICTION
It should be enough to say that the job description for federal agents solemnly sworn to enforce the law does not include the commission of felonies like obstruction of justice and making false statements (in this case, quite intentional, highly material omissions on official government reports). But to state the obvious does not do this matter justice. Not even close.
Here’s the dirty little secret the agents’ partisans never tell in their relentless media rounds. You want to be mad about a miscreant like Aldrete-Davila getting away with importing scads of marijuana into Estados Unidos? Then be mad at … the “heroes.”
The rogue duo had two easy opportunities to arrest Aldrete-Davila: First, when he attempted to surrender and Compean decided it would be better to smash him with the butt of a shotgun than to put cuffs on him, as it was his duty to do; and then, when the “heroes,” having felled the unarmed, fleeing suspect with a bullet fired into his buttocks, decided to leave him there so they could tend to the more important business of covering up the shooting.
Since it’s hard to decipher the facts amid the noise, it’s worth remembering that a jury of twelve impartial Texans convicted the agents of almost all the charges, beyond a reasonable doubt, after a two-and-a-half week trial. Many complain, with some force, about the aggressive charges brought by the government against Compean and Ramos, but you don’t have to like this case to understand that — barring some demonstration of irrationality (and there has been none) — the factual findings necessary to that verdict merit respect. They are certainly more reliable than hype from those with an ax to grind.
As is typical in controversial trials, when the sentences the court imposes months after the verdict turn out to be stiff, it is true that some jurors have since expressed regret about their vote to convict Compean and Ramos. But three jurors’ lame bleating that they were in the dark about the possibility of holding out for a hung jury smacks of buyer’s remorse, not confusion. When it counted, the full jury plainly resolved disputed issues and credibility calls against the agents. In addition to being entitled to deference, that lopsided resolution also happens to make the most objective sense. Indeed, it is telling that the agents’ partisans vent mainly about immigration policy and prosecutorial overreach; they don’t dare dwell on the agents’ disgraceful performance on February 17, 2005.
It was about 1:00 that afternoon when Agent Compean observed Aldrete-Davila driving suspiciously along a levee road toward tiny Fabens, Texas, in a van later found to be carrying 743 pounds of marijuana. Compean radioed for help. Agent Ramos heard the call and headed to Fabens, where he anticipated intercepting the van.
Aldrete-Davila soon realized he was being pursued by Ramos and another agent. Unable to shake them, he abandoned the van and made a dash for the Rio Grande border. Compean, however, was lying in wait across the levee.
What happened next is disputed. Compean now says there was a struggle, causing him to fire although Aldrete-Davila eluded him. Ramos contends that while in pursuit, he heard shots; saw his fellow officer, Compean, down on the ground; kept chasing Aldrete-Davila; and finally fired at him because, through thick dust, he thought he saw something shiny in the smuggler’s hand that, he surmised, must have been a gun.
This is the Official Truth according to the agents’ partisans. It is also the one rejected by the jurors who heard the whole case — including the parts about which the partisans are now tongue-tied.
The preponderance of the evidence established that Aldrete-Davila was unarmed. Besides Compean and Ramos, there were several other agents on the scene. None of them believed Aldrete-Davila posed a threat to their safety; none, other than the two defendants drew their weapons; and Compean and Ramos neither took cover nor alerted their fellow agents to do so.
More to the point, Compean admitted to investigators early on that the smuggler had raised his hands, palms open, in an attempt to surrender. This jibed not only with Aldrete-Davila’s account but with that of another Border Patrol agent. Compean opted not to take surrender, not to place the smuggler under arrest so he could be prosecuted.
On that score, for those over-heatedly analogizing the border to a battlefield, it is worth noting that even under the law of war, quarter must be given when it is sought. Compean, to the contrary, tried to strike Aldrete-Davila with the butt of his shotgun. But it turns out the agent was as hapless as he was malevolent. In the assault, he succeeded only in losing his own balance. The smuggler, naturally, took off again, whereupon Compean unleashed an incompetent fuselage — missing Aldrete-Davila with all fourteen shots.
It was only after the surrender attempt that Ramos opened fire as the unarmed smuggler neared the border. Defending his decision to bring the case, U.S. attorney Sutton later explained: “Border Patrol training allows for the use of deadly force when an agent reasonably fears imminent bodily injury or death. An agent is not permitted to shoot an unarmed suspect who is running away.” The fact that Aldrete-Davila was a drug-dealer — something the agents may have suspected but had not yet confirmed at the time they were shooting at him — did not justify the responsive use of potentially deadly force under standard law-enforcement rules of engagement.
Cops are peace officers; absent life-and-death exigencies, they are not judge, jury and executioner. Not in big cities like New York. Not in rural middle America. And not on the border. As Sutton put it when I spoke with him, a big part of what separates us from many countries in the world is that “in America, the cops are the good guys.”
Compean and Ramos are bad guys. Once Aldrete-Davila was down from Ramos’s shot to the backside, they decided, for a second time, not to grab him so he could face justice for his crimes. As they well knew, an arrest at that point — after 15 shots at a fleeing, unarmed man who had tried to surrender — would have shone a spotlight on their performance. So instead, they exacerbated the already shameful display.
Instead of arresting the wounded smuggler, they put their guns away and left him behind. But not before trying to conceal the improper discharge of their firearms. Compean picked up and hid his shell-casings rather than leaving the scene intact for investigators. Both agents filed false reports, failing to record the firing of their weapons though they were well aware of regulations requiring that they do so. Because the “heroes” put covering their tracks ahead of doing their duty, Aldrete-Davila was eventually able to limp off to a waiting car and escape into Mexico.
BAD FACTS AND BAD LAW
Myopic border-enforcement activists seem unconcerned about any of these facts — for them, much like anti-death penalty obsessives, the cause is a higher calling. Concededly, though, this case rankles ordinary Americans, too. That’s understandable given the severity, the equities, and the potential ramifications of the punishment.
There is broad recognition that bad agents should be weeded out of any police force. Compean and Ramos, however, have not just been terminated; they were socked with sentences of twelve and eleven years, respectively. This, in connection with an incident that arose out of a job which — their appalling conduct aside — is undeniably dangerous; an incident instigated by a drug dealer who was not prosecuted for crimes worth at least as much jail time as the agents received — an illegal alien felon who may end up with a big cash windfall premised on the absurdity that his purported American “civil rights” were violated. As a matter of policy, moreover, the effectiveness of honest Border Patrol agents could be compromised if they come to believe the kind of energetic policing we need may be met by prosecution — rendering them and the rest of us more vulnerable.
There are answers to all these concerns, but they are not particularly satisfying. The truism that bad facts make bad law was never more true — and these facts are ugly.
For starters, should these guys really have been prosecuted at all? Wouldn’t it have been enough just to fire them? If the agents had only acted dishonestly, you might say that. But the behavior here was egregious and could easily have resulted in murder. That’s unacceptable under circumstances where the agents were in no danger and the unarmed man they shot was running away after trying to surrender. But leaving the inexcusable comportment aside, there are a few things the uninitiated should understand.
Though they work for the public, federal employees, including law-enforcement agents, are permitted to unionize and fight the public every step of the way, no matter how abundantly clear it is that they should be disciplined or terminated for betraying the public’s trust. No federal official more cries out to be fired than one we trust with a gun and a badge who proves himself unfit to bear the attendant responsibilities. Yet, our system arms even them with administrative rights that make termination prohibitively difficult. Moreover, it gives these bad actors powerful incentives not to accept termination without a fight. Because law-enforcement work can be physically stressful and dangerous, agents have very attractive benefits — including retirement after comparatively short careers with a pension based on their highest-income years of service. There is too much at stake to go away quietly.
Criminal conviction is often the only way to cut through the burdensome, uncertain administrative process. Agencies sometimes will not take disciplinary action absent charges. Consequently, if agents don’t agree to resign over outrageous misconduct, the only sure way to get rid of them is to indict and convict them.
Okay, you say. But did the indictment really have to be this severe? After all, the sentences are extremely harsh. Here, the agents have mainly themselves to blame. The government offered them very generous plea deals. Compean and Ramos spurned them. If defendants decline to plead guilty and insist on proceeding to trial, it is standard operating procedure for the Justice Department to bring its best case — which includes charging the offense that carries the highest penalty among all readily provable crimes. Indeed, it is common for the government to insist on the most severe, readily-provable offense even at the plea-negotiation stage — something Sutton’s office did not do.
In this case, that offense was the discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. This crime carries a mandatory-minimum ten-year jail sentence which must, by statute, be imposed in addition to the sentence of incarceration on any other count of conviction. It is Congress that enacted this law — not the Justice Department. Congress (including some of the members complaining most vociferously about this case) fears that judges will be too soft on several types of crimes, including gun crimes. Rather than trusting them to impose reasonable sentences, it forces their hand. It’s a great racket: if the court ignores the law, Congress goes berserk at the judiciary; if the Justice Department applies the law, congressional ire is directed at the executive branch. Meanwhile, the legislators who foisted this rigid, unforgiving law on us never have to apologize for anything. In any event, Congress carved out no exceptions from this statute for law-enforcement personnel accused of crimes committed in the line of duty.
Still, it must be asked: Did the Justice Department overreach in charging it? This is a very close call, but I believe it was a reasonable exercise of discretion.
Yes, the government could have contented itself with lesser charges such as obstruction of justice and false statements, offenses that could probably have been proved without testimony from Aldrete-Davila — thus obviating the need to give him use-immunity in exchange for his testimony. But as Sutton points out, the case would not have been nearly as strong without the testimony of the smuggler. He was the only witness in a position to explain the entire transaction and rebut the agents’ perjurious version of events. If it was important to do this case at all, it was important to present that testimony. Otherwise, the agents would have been positioned to portray themselves as decent men doing a tough job who were being unfairly nickled-and-dimed over mere technicalities — and if you don’t think that was a concern for the prosecutor, you haven’t been listening to what conservatives usually strong on law-and-order have been saying about the Scooter Libby case, or what liberals said through years of defending Bill Clinton.
More significant than strategy, Americans need to know that there are not two justice systems: one for corrupt public officials and one for everybody else. Everybody else, especially upon declining a generous plea offer, gets hit with the most serious offense. Treating these agents differently would have been very difficult to justify.
For what it’s worth, I believe the treatment of the smuggler is more disturbing than the sentences imposed on the agents. The agents got more time than they would have without the mandatory minimum, but what they did here patently merited imprisonment. The alien narcotics smuggler, to the contrary, gets off scot-free, plus, thanks to another congressional statute, he can actually sue the United States — and is reportedly seeking $5 million in damages.
That is ludicrous. We can swallow hard and accept the cold reality that the government needed to make a strong case to get rid of bad agents who would otherwise still be on the job — potentially endangering others, including their fellow agents. We can understand, even though we resent, that the only way to obtain the testimony of Aldrete-Davila, who was in Mexico, was to promise that his statements would not be used against him. We can perhaps even abide that the drug dealer was not prosecuted. He was, after all, shot and wounded (albeit while fleeing to escape justice); he could have stayed in Mexico rather than agreeing to return for the trial; and the agents’ misconduct had left the case against him nigh impossible: the government says that none of the agents could make a physical identification based on their fleeting and chaotic interaction with him, that the marijuana-laden van did not yield forensic evidence tying him to it, and therefore that the only way to establish guilt would have been a confession — which the feds had to provide immunity to get.
Yes, all that is infuriating, but we regrettably realize that’s the way things go sometimes. What cannot be countenanced, however, is that an illegal alien’s criminality is not only excused but rewarded — and rewarded based on the fiction that the trespasser has rights under our Constitution.
Generally speaking, an alien acquires American rights progressively as he weaves himself into the fabric of our society. Here, to the contrary, we are talking about a non-American whose every second inside our country was spent both violating our immigration laws and engaging in an international drug conspiracy. Yet, our courts have seen fit to vest such invaders with Fourth Amendment protection.
The theory is more a check on executive excess than a recognition of alien entitlement — we don’t want doors kicked in without warrants or human beings brutalized just because their presence here is unauthorized. Fair enough. But Congress has piled self-flagellation atop this well-intentioned restraint by providing a legal claim for money damages for anyone, including illegal aliens, whose “civil rights” have been denied.
That is simply too much. Congress should stipulate that only aggrieved U.S. citizens and legal aliens have a right to bring such lawsuits. We can firmly address police misconduct without simultaneously encouraging lawlessness. Making our jackpot justice system yet another attraction for illegal immigration is madness.
Finally, the implications of this prosecution for bonafide border enforcement are far from a baseless concern. Nonetheless, two things should allay our fears. First is the very solid record U.S. attorney Sutton’s office has compiled. The Border Patrol has been given great support. Appropriately, its agents have regularly been given the benefit of the doubt due to their dedication, the uphill battle that is their mission, and our desperate national need to stem the tide of illegal immigration. There is no reason to suspect that, in the future, honest, hard-working agents will be targeted for just doing their jobs.
Second, regardless of the fall-out, law enforcement must police itself with integrity. Americans instinctively think of their agents as heroes because they know most of them are. When we find some who demonstrably aren’t, dispensing with them is not an injustice. It’s a defense of honor.
Defending honor can be a wrenching business. That doesn’t make it any less vital.
—Andrew C. McCarthy directs the Center for Law & Counterterrorism at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Ballistics reports, used in the trial of Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, one of two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting fleeing drug dealer Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, do not support the prosecution’s claim the bullet was fired from Ramos’ gun, according to documents provided to WND from Andy Ramirez, chairman of the Friends of the Border Patrol.
Despite the conclusion of a laboratory criminalist that he could not conclusively link the bullet removed from Aldrete-Davila with Ramos’ service weapon, a Department of Homeland Security agent swore, in an affidavit of complaint filed against Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, that Aldrete-Davila was hit by a round fired by Ramos.
“Johnny Sutton and his assistants are guilty of malicious prosecution,” Ramirez charged to WND. “The prosecutors lied to the jury and he twisted evidence to make it fit his case. And when he couldn’t twist the evidence, the government demanded that the court seal evidence which would have been exculpatory to the defense.”
Nearly two years after the conclusion of the trial, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas has yet to release a transcript of the trial.
WND asked Ramirez if he was aware of the seriousness of his charges.
“I am very aware and I am accusing Mr. Sutton of a felony,” Ramirez told WND, “but I am basing my conclusion on the evidence I have examined in this case and the refusal by the government to provide evidence to substantiate its claim to the Congress and the American people.”
“Back on Sept. 26, 2006, officials from the DHS Office of Inspector General made serious allegations against both agents Ramos and Compean to four members of Congress from the Texas delegation,” Ramirez said. “The Inspector General has subsequently refused to provide their evidence to substantiate their claims to Congress. So I am also accusing the DHS Office of Inspector General of making false statements to Congress in order to prevent a congressional inquiry. I am asking the U.S. Congress to subpoena all documents pertaining to this case including the full transcripts, sealed testimony, and the sealed indictment against Aldrete-Davila in order to get to the truth of this case once and for all.”
WND previously reported Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, has accused DHS of stonewalling on the release of documents. Despite persistent requests to hand over promised internal reports, McCaul told WND Congress had not yet received the materials.
In the Sept. 26, 2006, meeting with the Texas Republican delegation, the Inspector General’s office claimed it had substantiating investigative reports that could back up their criminal charges against Ramos and Compean. Among the charges made by IG was that Ramos and Compean had stated Feb.17, 2005, the day of the Aldrete-Davila shooting, they “wanted to shoot a Mexican.”
Monica Ramos embraces her husband, former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)
WND also reported Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, last week filed a Freedom of Information Act request against the DHS Inspector General’s office to obtain those investigative reports. Poe took this action after DHS informed the Texas Republican delegation the documents would not be turned over to them because the Democrats were now in control of Congress and McCaul was no longer chairman of the Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Ramirez has worked on the Ramos and Compean matter for nearly two years, investigating the facts of case and interviewing Ramos, Compean, their families and others knowledgeable about the proceedings. He shared two documents with WND that, he says, undermine the prosecution’s case against Ramos.
In an affidavit filed by DHS March 15, 2005, with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas, special agent Christopher R. Sanchez swore the following:
Ballistics testing confirms a government-issued weapon belonging to U.S. Border Patrol Agent Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, a 96D Beretta .40 caliber automatic pistol, serial number BER067069M, fired a bullet (a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson jacketed hollow point) which hit the victim in the left buttocks while he was attempting to flee to Mexico.
The second document, a ballistics report completed by the Texas Department of Public Safety, interests Ramirez both because of the agency that did the testing and the results of the test.
“For some unexplained reason, U.S. Attorney Sutton had the ballistics test performed by the Texas Department of Public Safety in El Paso, rather than by the FBI,” he said. “This was a federal issue that should have gone to the FBI and only to the FBI. The Texas Department of Public Safety had no business running a ballistics report on a federal case. The FBI handles all shooting incidents, whether it involves assaults or otherwise, concerning federal agents. DPS should have refused the case and demanded that the bullet be picked up by the FBI for analysis.
“If you ask the Texas DHS how many shooting cases they handle involving federal agents, they would have said, ‘None’. Then, if you asked the FBI how many shooting cases they handle involving federal agents, they would have said, ‘All of them.’ Yet that isn’t how it went in this case. Nothing was done by the rules.”
The results of the ballistics tests were reported in a letter written by Joseph J. J. Correa, a Criminalist IV with the Texas DPS El Paso Laboratory, March 18, 2005, and addressed to Brian D. Carter of DHS in El Paso.
The letter states Correa examined one fired copper-jacketed bullet presented to him by Carter on March 17, 2005. The letter identifies the victim shot by the bullet as “Osvaldo Aldrete.”
In the letter, Correa notes that he was asked to determine the manufacture of the firearm that fired the submitted bullet.
Correa could not positively identify Ramos’s weapon as the one that fired the submitted bullet. His report concludes:
The copper-jacketed bullet was fired from a barrel having six lands and grooves inclined to the right. The manufacturer of the firearm that fired the copper-jacketed bullet is unknown, but could include commonly encountered models of .40 S&W caliber FN/Browning, Beretta, Heckler & Koch, and Ruger pistols.
Correa’s report gives no indication the bullet submitted for analysis was disfigured or in fragments, despite having been supposedly extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s body after reportedly doing massive damage to his groin area and hitting bone.
“The problem was that the ballistics report did not match the bullet to Ramos’ gun,” Ramirez said. “The ballistics report said the bullet could have been fired by any one of four different makes of gun. So, the affidavit of complaint against Ramos and Compean made a statement that was not substantiated by the ballistics report. That is a big problem for the prosecution. Their evidence does not support their accusation.”
The arrest warrant issued for agent Ramos, a copy of which Ramirez also supplied WND, attests Ramos was charged with, “Intentionally assaulting a Mexican national, one O.A.D., resulting in serious bodily injury.” This conclusion is not supported by the ballistics letter written by Texas DPS specialist Correa.
WND has not investigated documents from the prosecutors which would establish the chain of evidence between the time the bullet was extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s groin and the time Carter of DHS presented it to Correa for analysis.
“How do we know that the prosecutors didn’t simply fire a round from Ramos’ gun into gel?” Ramirez asks. “That could explain the nearly pristine bullet the prosecutors presented for ballistics analysis.”
The failure of the prosecution ballistics reports to link the bullet with agent Ramos’ weapon directly challenges a claim made by Sutton to WND in an exclusive interview. In that interview, Sutton claimed that agent Ramos hit Aldrete-Davila:
WND: So, Compean shot 14 times and missed everybody, but Ramos shot one time and hit the drug dealer in the buttocks?
Sutton: That’s correct.
WND: Is Ramos that much better a shot than Compean?
Sutton: Ramos is a marksman.
WND has further learned the bullet was not extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s body until DHS special agent Christopher R. Sanchez brought him back from Mexico, at some unspecified time after the February 17, 2005 incident in which Aldrete-Davila was supposedly wounded by agent Ramos’ fire.
A doctor in Mexico had inserted a catheter to reverse the damage done to Aldrete-Davila’s urethra, but did not extract the bullet.
The bullet was extracted by a U.S. Army doctor, at government expense. According to the physician, the bullet entered Aldrete-Davila’s left buttock from the left side, traversed his groin, damaged the urethra, hitting bone in the process, and lodged in his right thigh. The bullet was extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s right groin and he received reconstructive surgery for the damage done to his groin and urethra and a catheter was reinserted.
WND has obtained the post-operative release form for the U.S. operation. That document specifies that Aldrete-Davila was released to the custody of DHS special agent Christopher Sanchez. WND has not been able to obtain evidence regarding where Sanchez took Aldrete-Davila next, or why.
The Army doctor’s description of the wound directly contradicts U.S. Attorney Sutton’s repeated claim that agents Ramos and Compean shot Aldrete-Davila in the back.
The doctor clearly stated that the wound he observed was consistent with Aldrete-Davila turning to assume a “bladed position” with his left arm extended back toward the officers. This corroborates agent Ramos and Compean’s claim they observed Aldrete-Davila turning back toward them while fleeing, extending his arm and holding an object in his hand that they took to be a weapon.
Aldrete-Davila is left-handed, consistent with the bullet entering his left buttock laterally as he fled and turned back toward the officers, possibly pointing a weapon at them.
“The doper after the surgery was transferred back to the personal custody of DHS special agent Sanchez,” Ramirez said. “So Christopher Sanchez has both the doper and the bullet. Aldrete-Davila was not transferred to a hotel, escorted by federal marshals. Aldrete-Davila wasn’t escorted from Mexico by the Mexican government. Everything involving Aldrete-Davila was left to the personal custody of Christopher Sanchez. Anything could have happened and who would know?”
WND is left to ask the following questions, which the Texas DPS ballistics analysis does not resolve:
* How did Aldrete-Davila continue running far enough to cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico after he had been hit by a round that passed through his left buttock from the side and damaged his urethra before lodging in his right thigh?
* How do we know that the bullet extracted from Aldrete-Davila could not have been fired into him during an unrelated incident in Mexico subsequent to Feb. 17, 2005, by a weapon among those of the type described in Correa’s report?
Conceivably, agents Ramos and Compean did not hit fleeing drug smuggler Aldrete-Davila on Feb. 17, 2005, despite firing multiple rounds at him.
“Johnny Sutton and his office have intentionally distorted and misrepresented the facts in this case,” Ramirez charged. “There’s something clearly wrong in the federal prosecutor’s office in El Paso. The Ramos and Compean case is a witch hunt. Every law enforcement agent on the border from Border Patrol agents to ICE agents to deputy sheriffs and sheriffs have gotten the message.”
What’s the message, WND asked?
“The message is simple,” Ramirez replied. “Enforce our drug laws aggressively on the border and you risk going to jail, not the drug dealers. We have a drug war going on along the Texas border and the U.S. government has backed off to the benefit of the drug lords.
Ramirez ended the interview with WND by noting: “After the Ramos and Compean case, no U.S. law enforcement officer on the border will ever again draw a weapon against a Mexican illegal transporting drugs without worrying that effort to enforce our laws may place him in jail, not the doper.”
TUCSON, Ariz. — Guidelines issued by U.S. attorneys in Texas showed that most illegal immigrants crossing into the state had to be arrested at least six times before federal authorities would prosecute them, according to an internal Justice Department memo.
The disclosure provides a rare view of how federal authorities attempt to curb illegal immigration. The memo was released this week in response to a congressional investigation of the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys.
The Border Patrol makes more than 1 million arrests a year on the U.S.-Mexico border. T.J. Bonner, head of a union representing Border Patrol agents, said it’s unrealistic to prosecute all violators.
“Let’s be honest, there isn’t enough jail space to incarcerate everyone who crosses that border,” said Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council. “If everyone demanded hearing in front of an immigration judge, it would bring our system to a grinding halt in a matter of days.”
It is unclear when the memo was written, but the Justice Department reviewed the guidelines sometime after a February 2005 performance review of Carol Lam, the top federal prosecutor in San Diego from 2002 until she was fired last month. Some Republican lawmakers had complained that Lam failed to aggressively prosecute immigration violations.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Thursday that immigration prosecutions are a high priority and that the government sent 30 additional attorneys to the border region in the second half of 2006. He said U.S. attorneys set guidelines that, in part, reflect local crime issues and staffing.
“Increasing the number of prosecutors will permit districts to adjust their guidelines and take in more cases,” he said. “For law enforcement reasons, the department cannot discuss what the present prosecutorial guidelines are concerning the border.”
The memo was written in response to Justice Department inquiries about immigration prosecutions by the five U.S. attorney offices that cover the 2,000-mile border — San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston and Albuquerque, N.M.
Guidelines vary by office, but migrants with no criminal records who have not been deported by an immigration judge will almost certainly be turned back to Mexico “numerous times” before getting prosecuted, according to another Justice Department memo dated Nov. 22, 2005. Those “voluntary returns” are booked on administrative, not criminal, violations.
Parts of the other memo are blacked out, so it’s unclear whether the document refers to U.S. attorneys in Houston or San Antonio.
The memo says one Texas district prosecutes migrants if the Border Patrol catches them at least six to eight times. The other district prosecutes after someone is caught at least seven times.
In late 2005, the government created a 200-mile zone near Del Rio, Texas, in which every adult arrested for illegal immigration would be prosecuted and jailed before being deported.
The San Diego office, which covers an area stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Arizona state line, does not prosecute “purely economic migrants” as a general rule, according to the memo.
The Arizona district, the nation’s busiest corridor for illegal crossings, “almost certainly” declines to prosecute on a first or second offense, the memo says. The New Mexico district makes decisions based on criminal records in the U.S.
There are many exceptions to the rule, including violators with criminal records.
Representatives of all five U.S. attorney offices declined to comment.
Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who advocates a crackdown on illegal immigration, said the Texas guidelines underscore a lax enforcement attitude. He said the federal government should contract for more jail space, perhaps with local governments.
“If you made it a priority of the department, you would see a reduction,” Tancredo said.
Arizona’s Paul Charlton and New Mexico’s David Iglesias were also among the eight U.S. attorneys abruptly fired. Justice Department officials have said they were concerned about the prosecutors’ approach to immigration cases.
Apparently, my position on immigration is that we must deport all 12 million illegal aliens immediately, inasmuch as this is billed as the only alternative to immediate amnesty. The jejune fact that we “can’t deport them all” is supposed to lead ineluctably to the conclusion that we must grant amnesty to illegal aliens — and fast!
I’m astounded that debate has sunk so low that I need to type the following words, but: No law is ever enforced 100%.
We can’t catch all rapists, so why not grant amnesty to rapists? Surely no one wants thousands of rapists living in the shadows! How about discrimination laws? Insider trading laws? Do you expect Bush to round up everyone who goes over the speed limit? Of course we can’t do that. We can’t even catch all murderers. What we need is “comprehensive murder reform.” It’s not “amnesty” — we’ll ask them to pay a small fine.
If it’s “impossible” to deport illegal aliens, how did we come to have so much specific information about them? I keep hearing they are Catholic, pro-life, hardworking, just dying to become American citizens, and will take jobs other Americans won’t. Someone must have talked to them to gather all this information. Let’s find that guy — he must know where they are!
How do we even know there are 12 million of them? Why not 3 million, or 40 million? Maybe we should put the guy who counted them in charge of deporting them.
If the 12-million figure is an extrapolation based on the number of illegal immigrants in public schools or emergency rooms and well-manicured lawns in Brentwood, then shouldn’t we be looking for them at schools and hospitals and well-manicured lawns in Brentwood?
I believe that the shortage of unskilled, non-English-speaking Mexicans we experienced in the ‘60s has been remedied by now.
Since Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act, more than half of all legal immigrants have been unskilled, non-English-speaking Mexicans. America takes in roughly 1 million legal immigrants each year. Only about 30,000 of them have Ph.D.s. Why on earth would any rational immigration policy discriminate against immigrants with Ph.D.s in favor of unskilled, non-English-speaking immigrants?
Say, don’t Ph.D.s and other skilled workers have more influence on government policy than unskilled workers? Aren’t they more likely to bend a president’s ear? Yes, I believe they are! Noticeably, the biggest proponents of the government’s policy of importing a huge underclass of unskilled workers are not themselves unskilled workers.
The great bounty of cheap labor by unskilled immigrants isn’t going to hardworking Americans who hang drywall or clean hotel rooms — and who are having trouble getting jobs, now that they’re forced to compete with the vast influx of unskilled workers who don’t pay taxes.
The people who make arguments about “jobs Americans won’t do” are never in a line of work where unskilled immigrants can compete with them. Liberals love to strike generous, humanitarian poses with other people’s lives.
Something tells me the immigration debate would be different if we were importing millions of politicians or Hollywood agents. You lose your job, while I keep my job at the Endeavor agency, my Senate seat, my professorship, my editorial position or my presidency. (And I get a maid!)
The only beneficiaries of these famed hardworking immigrants — unlike you lazy Americans — are the wealthy, who want the cheap labor while making the rest of us chip in for the immigrants’ schooling, food and health care.
These great lovers of the downtrodden — the downtrodden trimming their hedges — pretend to believe that their gardeners’ children will be graduating from Harvard and curing cancer someday, but (1) they don’t believe that; and (2) if it happened, they’d lose their gardeners.
Not to worry, Marie Antoinettes! According to “Alien Nation” author Peter Brimelow, “There is recent evidence that, even after four generations, fewer than 10% of Mexicans have post-high school degrees, as opposed to nearly half of non-Mexican-Americans.” So you’ll always have the maid. As New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said, our golf fairways would suffer without illegal immigrants: “You and I both play golf; who takes care of the greens and the fairways on your golf course?”
We fought a civil war to force Democrats to give up on slavery 150 years ago. They’ve become so desperate for servants that now they’re importing an underclass to wash their clothes and pick their vegetables. This vast class of unskilled immigrants is the left’s new form of slavery.
What do they care if their servants are made citizens eligible to vote and collect government benefits? Aren’t the fabulously rich happy in Venezuela? Oops, wrong example. Brazil? No, no, let me try again. Mexico! ... Well, no matter. What could go wrong?
By George Will
WASHINGTON — Harry Reid, the Senate’s majority leader and resident Uriah Heep, affected ‘umble and syrupy sadness about the Senate’s inability to pass the immigration bill that he pulled from the floor last Thursday evening for a transparently meretricious reason. Saying the Senate’s time was too precious to expend on what would have been limited debate on a limited number of Republican amendments to the bill, Reid vowed: “Everyone that’s been home, there are two issues that are foremost in their minds: Number one is the Iraq War and number two are gas prices. We’re going to deal with that as soon as we finish with this immigration legislation.”
So the Senate took Friday off, wasted Monday in the predictable futility of failing to pass a nonbinding nullity, a resolution expressing constitutionally irrelevant lack of confidence in the attorney general, then debated lowering gasoline prices — or cooling the planet; or something — by spending taxpayers’ money to raise food prices. It took up legislation to quintuple the mandated use of mostly corn-based ethanol, which already has increased Americans’ food bills $14 billion in the last 12 months. For such silliness, Reid scuttled the bipartisan attempt to improve the eminently improvable immigration status quo.
Senators from both parties who are trying to resuscitate the bill surely read last weekend’s Rasmussen poll recording public approval of Reid (19%) far below the president’s pathetic 36%. Democrats who control this floundering and roundly disapproved Congress are paying a painful price for the pleasure of defeating everything that could be construed as in any way an achievement by the president.
Granted, Reid is just one reason for the immigration legislation’s parlous condition. Another reason is that lessons from 14 years ago have been forgotten.
In his new biography of Hillary Clinton, “A Woman in Charge,” Carl Bernstein recalls April 23-25, 1993, the 94th, 95th and 96th days of the Clinton administration, when the president and Mrs. Clinton attended a retreat with Senate Democrats in Williamsburg. It was already clear that the Clintons were not going to fulfill their promise to present “comprehensive” health care legislation within their first 100 days. Bernstein reports that two of the most respected and, for Mrs. Clinton’s purposes, most important senators, Pat Moynihan and Bill Bradley (both were on the Finance Committee, which would handle her legislation; Moynihan was chairman), were appalled by her highhandedness.
Bradley asked her if the tardiness in delivering her bill would complicate passage by making the bill competitive with other legislative goals, and he suggested that some substantive changes in her proposal might be necessary.
“No, Hillary responded icily, there would be no changes because, delay or not, the White House would ‘demonize’ members of Congress and the medical establishment who would use the interim to alter the administration’s plan or otherwise stand in its way.”
Bradley and Moynihan heard this, Bernstein says, “with disgust and distrust.” Her plan never even came to a vote in a Congress controlled by her party.
Like her plan, the recent immigration legislation had three handicaps. First, it was drafted in secret — and unlike her bill, the immigration bill was not the subject of hearings that could have clarified such fundamental matters as whether immigrants are net drains on, or contributors to, the fiscal health of federal, state and local governments. Second, like many comprehensive “solutions” to large, intricate problems that are susceptible to incremental ameliorations, the immigration bill, like the Clintons’ health care bill, was presented as a package so finely calibrated and exquisitely balanced that any significant change would, as Shakespeare said:
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark! what discord follows.
Third, people skeptical about the legislation were, if not demonized, cast as bigots or, at best, people uninterested in doing “the right thing for America” (President Bush).
Perhaps Reid, in his rush to truncate debate, was being chivalrous toward Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Suppose Senate Republicans agree to expedited handling of the legislation so the Senate can get on with whatever folly Reid next considers urgent business. And suppose 60 senators can force a final vote on a bill that retains the most important provisions — increased border security and electronic identity verification. Many businesses, which profit from being magnets for illegal immigration, think being part of law enforcement is an intolerable nuisance, which is heartening evidence that workplace enforcement might work.
If the Senate passes a bill, immigration then becomes a hot potato for the House, where 61 of Pelosi’s Democrats represent Republican-leaning districts (Bush carried them). Hark! what discord will follow. What fun.
By John Derbyshire
Well, all right, the beast is not definitively dead yet. Given the unswerving determination of our president — a quality I have admired, under different circumstances — we may see another effort at “comprehensive immigration reform” before the 110th Congress packs its bags in January ‘09.
Even if the president can’t be deterred, though, the congressfolk can. They’ve been getting an earful from their constituents. I don’t know what they’ve been hearing, but it can’t be too different from what all the radio and TV talk-show hosts say they have been hearing: “Enforce the law!”
This past couple of weeks has been wonderfully educative. Tens of millions of Americans now understand the core issue here, which is, that we have all the laws we need on all the topics in this bill (we already have, for instance, five different temporary-worker programs, with a sixth visa category for the families of these temporary workers), that our current problems arise from the failure of the executive to enforce these current laws, and that until the executive shows some sincere intent to enforce current laws, there is little point in passing new ones. Repeat: sincere intent — not the clumsy propaganda show of these past few months.
We can reasonably hope, therefore, that we have heard the last of “comprehensive immigration reform” for a while. Personally, I’m going to relax, sit back, and indulge myself in some stress-free contemplation of a few random immigration topics.
Killer Acronyms. There are a couple of killer four-letter acronyms that haven’t shown up much in the recent discussions, but which really should be on everybody’s mind when talking immigration.
Here they are: (1) EOIR, (2) AILA.
EOIR is the Executive Office of Immigration Review. It is a branch of the Justice Department, containing 54 immigration courts scattered around the nation, with over 200 judges on the rolls. It also includes the eleven-member Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
The key thing to understand here is that it is very hard to deport an immigrant, even an illegal immigrant, who does not want to be deported.
You will sometimes read encouraging numbers for deportations. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) boasts of 186,600 deportations for fiscal year 2006. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), quoted in the May 1 New York Times here, gave a higher number: 221,664 “over the last year.” Perhaps DHS and ICE are using different metrics, or perhaps this is illustration #92,142,863 of our government’s left hand not knowing what its right hand is doing, but either number is comforting at a first glance.
What those deportation numbers don’t tell you is that they cover mainly people who were willing to be deported, or who didn’t put up much of a legal fight. For any deportee who does want to put up a legal fight, the EOIR and BIA bureaucracies are there to help him. Behind them stand the federal circuit courts, to which an immigrant can appeal if all else fails. It takes years, of course; and, as Michelle Malkin has noted somewhere, it ain’t over until the immigrant wins.
The second killer acronym is “AILA.” That is the American Immigration Lawyers Association. You’ve probably never heard of AILA, but they are a mighty force in the land, probably more responsible for shaping the future demographics of the U.S.A. than any other body of people — certainly more responsible than our elected representatives, most of whom probably believe that “demographics” is a synonym for “racism.”
Do EOIR and AILA talk to each other? Oh yeah. They are in fact, as the Chinese say, “as close as lips and teeth.” Try reading through a few of these PDF files, for example. A cozy relationship? I would say.
Devil’s Advocate. With a contentious issue like immigration, it’s always a good idea to take one of the opposition’s stronger points and see if you can argue for it — set aside your own convictions for a moment and play devil’s advocate.
Take the Bushite slogan about “jobs Americans won’t do,” for example. Many people think this whole notion of “jobs Americans won’t do” was exploded after the ICE raids on the Swift meat-packing company in Colorado earlier this year. Illegal-immigrant workers were removed, and within days the plant was being flooded with job applications from citizens.
Is that always going to be the case, though? Meat-packing work isn’t that unpleasant. There are plenty of more arduous jobs. In front-end agriculture, especially — and most especially in parts of the country where it can get really hot outdoors — there is grueling work that, I can easily imagine, it might be hard to get citizens to do. (Victor Davis Hanson, a farmer himself, writes convincingly about this in Mexifornia.)
The stock answer here is an appeal to pure economic theory. “There are no such things as shortages, only clearing prices,” etc. There is some wage level at which you or I would put in ten-hour days stooped over under a hot sun (says the theory); there is some wage level at which Warren Buffett could be persuaded to gut hogs.
I don’t know about that. We are a very advanced nation, and our citizens have high expectations of life. They also, of course, have a welfare state to help them if things get rough. I’m not, in any case, a big fan of abstract economic theories.
I hate to say it, but I think the Bushites have a point here. There probably are some jobs Americans won’t do at any wage level anyone is actually willing to offer.
I would still say: Well, then, let those jobs go hang. If you can’t, for love or money, find any citizens or legal residents to pick your apples, at wage levels not so high that consumers refuse to buy the apples, well, let the apples rot. That’s hard on you, I understand. You’ll have to find some other way to make a living. That happens to people, though — it’s happened to me a couple of times. And the U.S.A. won’t fold for want of apples.
(What in fact will happen is that someone will come up with a reliable apple-picking machine. That’s no consolation to you. You went out of business waiting for this gadget to attain mass production… Unless you just opened your orchards to the public, advertised as a “pick your own fruit” venture, which is what most of the fruit farms in my county seem to have done.)
On Hating Mexicans. Linda Chavez put el gato among las palomas the other day by dismissing opponents of the Senate immigration bill as people who “don’t like Mexicans.”
I’ll confess I don’t know much about Mexicans myself. I’d like to be able to say that some of my best friends are Mexican, but it’s not true. Not only do I not have any Mexicans among my friends, I don’t have any among my neighbors or colleagues, either. I simply don’t know any Mexicans. My data on Mexicans is all secondhand. Fred Reed speaks well of them, and I’ve generally found Fred to be a reliable observer of humanity, except when he’s giving me verbal noogies.
I do think, though, that Linda and Fred should pause to consider the possibility that there are people who do like Mexicans, and also people like me who have no opinion about Mexicans in the grand collectivity at all, but who, in both cases, think it’s a really bad idea to let the 40% of Mexicans who want to come live here, come live here. That would be 43 million people. Ask yourselves, Linda, Fred:
Does the U.S.A. need another 43 million people? One-seventh of our current population?
If it does, would it be a good idea to take them all from one place?
A place right next door to us? With…
...A historical claim on our territory?
Then ask yourself if a person who poses these questions out loud must ipso facto be a person who “hates Mexicans.”
Surely it is possible to be a person who does not hate Mexicans, yet who at the same time believes that Mexican immigration to the U.S.A. should be held down to some level well below what it currently is.
Is Hispanic the New Black? Linda’s piece did, though, at least bring the r-word into the discussion. In some offline conversations I’ve been having, and on some websites I’ll leave you to search out by yourself, the opinion has been expressed that some portion of America’s white elites welcome Hispanic immigration as a way of sticking it to American blacks. That portion, it is suggested, would prefer to have its lawns mowed by small, polite, brown people, rather than large, surly black ones, even if the price is the same in both cases.
I think there is something in that, but more than I have yet heard discussed.
Here’s a story. Saturday night, around 11 P.M., I was in Manhattan, walking with my daughter from Lincoln Center (where we had just seen the ABT’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty) to Penn Station for our ride back out to the burbs. At Columbus Circle we were followed for a while by one of the new pedicabs that are now allowed to ply for business in the city.
This pedicab seated two, so my daughter and I were prospective customers. The proprietor of the thing was a young black guy. Three or four times he called out to us, in a very friendly way, to take advantage of the service he was offering. He seemed like a cheerful and enterprising young man. He was on a loser with us though, as my daughter still finds it thrilling to just walk the streets of the city, and wanted to go on doing so. Off we walked, leaving him behind.
A hundred yards ahead I looked back. There he still was at the Circle, trying to get someone to ride in his pedicab. It shouldn’t have been difficult; the streets were pretty crowded; yet when at last I lost sight of him, he still hadn’t got a customer.
He’d got me noticing pedicabs, though. There seemed to be quite a lot of them, mostly occupied, mostly with young white guys pedaling. It occurred to me to wonder whether it’s harder for a black pedicabbie (?) to pick up passengers than for a white one. Not because people are scared to be pedaled by a black man — this was midtown Manhattan, for heaven’s sake, on a busy spring evening — but because white Americans just aren’t comfortable in such an obvious service relationship with a black American doing muscle work on their behalf.
Similarly, there are probably a lot of black American women who wouldn’t mind working as maids in prosperous white households, as used to be commonplace. I’m willing to bet, though, that there are large numbers of white people who would much rather not have a black maid. Not, again, because they fear a black maid would harm them, or be lazy or dishonest, but just because they would not feel comfortable in a master-servant relationship with a black person, after all the guilt-trip propaganda of the past 40 years.
What’s more, I think I’m one of those white people. Another story: Back in 1990 or 1991, living in London, I was walking across the interior space of Victoria Station, a major rail terminus. There was a shoeshine stand there in the middle of the concourse, operated by a lone black man who looked as if he could use some business. My shoes needed shining, I had five minutes to spare, so I negotiated a price, mounted his chair, and he started polishing.
And I started sweating. I felt really uncomfortable. It was irrational, I know, but I’m telling how it was. I got looks from people walking by, too — not friendly looks. See that black guy toiling away at the white man’s feet! Those were the looks — or, just as revealing, if in a different way, that was how I imagined them. I suspect that shoeshine guy didn’t get much business.
The shoeshine parlor at Manhattan’s Penn Station, which I visit frequently, is staffed entirely by Hispanics. As the current catch-phrase goes: I’m just sayin’.
By Thomas Sowell
People who are pushing for a “guest worker” program show not the slightest interest in what has been happening under guest-worker programs in Europe. Facts are apparently irrelevant.
So is logic. Guests are people you invite to your home. Gate crashers are people who come without being invited. Home invaders are people who break in, despite doors that have been shut to keep them out.
If the discussion of immigration laws respected either logic or honesty, we would be talking about a program to legalize home invaders instead of a guest-worker program.
As for facts, guest workers from third-world countries have created centers of crime and violence in Europe, and some guest-worker communities have become breeding grounds for terrorists.
Just as crime and violence in American inner cities have led not only to “white flight” but also to a flight of the black, Hispanic, and Asian middle classes, so in Europe much of the native-born European population has fled from cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Brussels.
Joel Kotkin’s classic book The City noted the “influx of immigrants” who were “recruited to Europe during the labor shortages of the 1950s and 1960s” who have become “an increasingly angry and sometimes violent element in what long had been remarkably peaceful urban areas.”
Another classic book — Our Culture: What’s Left of It by Theodore Dalrymple — found a similar pattern in France.
Long before the Muslim riots in Paris which shocked France and the world, Dalrymple pointed out how immigrants in France had become a major source of crime and violence, not only in Paris but in other parts of the country.
The housing projects immediately surrounding Paris have become concentrations of “several million” third-world immigrants — a population filled with “the hatred it bears for the other, ‘official’ society of France.”
They are not appeased by “the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity.” What they want is what most people want — respect — and this cannot be given to them, least of all by the French welfare state.
In order to feel self-respect, the young especially “needed to see themselves as warriors in a civil war, not mere ne’er-do-wells and criminals.”
This anti-social vision has been supported and even celebrated by many intellectuals, much as both black and white intellectuals have celebrated the senseless brutality and cheap vulgarity of rap music in America.
What may be especially relevant to the situation in the United States is that the immigrant parents and grandparents of the violent youths came to France with a very different view.
They were glad to be in France, which for most was a big improvement over where they came from. “They were better Frenchmen than either their children or grandchildren,” Dalrymple noted.
They would never have booed the French national anthem at a public event, as the later generations did — and as the American national anthem has been booed in Los Angeles.
The later generations were not born in the third-world countries from which their parents and grandparents escaped. They were born in France, and resented not having the same prosperity as other Frenchmen.
Here again, the media and the intelligentsia in France, as in the United States, tend to turn differences in achievement — “gaps,” “disparities” — into social injustices rather than reflections of differences in the things that create achievement.
One of the things that make many people such passionate advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants from Mexico is that so many Mexican immigrants are hard-working, decent family people.
That was also true of many third-world “guest workers” in Europe, who were glad to be there, but whose children and grandchildren have developed very different and very poisonous attitudes — with the help of activists, demagogues, and the media.
Today’s illegal immigrants are too often analogized to early 20th-century immigrants from Europe. But their situation is far more similar to that of contemporary “guest workers” in Europe.
By William Rusher
The defeat of the so-called immigration “reform” bill in the Senate last week was a stunning blow to the powerful coalition backing it, but opponents had better not break out the champagne just yet. The odds are better than even that the coalition will simply regroup, try again, and this time roll over the opposition like a Sherman tank.
The coalition is simply too powerful for anything as unfocused as mere American public opinion to resist for long. For one thing, it includes the entire Democratic Party, minus only a leftist fringe that cannot stand even small and temporary concessions. The Democratic strategists realize that if they can only put the 12 million or more illegal aliens already here on a track to eventual citizenship, two-thirds of them can be depended to vote Democratic when they get there. (That is the record to date of the Hispanics who are already citizens.) That’s a net gain of 4 million votes in every national election after roughly 2020, and that figure will only grow as more Hispanics flood in under the other provisions of the “reform.”
The other wing of the coalition consists, paradoxically, of people who mostly vote Republican. But they are businessmen who depend on cheap immigrant labor to fatten their profits, and who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the current influx of Mexican laborers coming. Their spiritual ancestors were the pre-Civil War slaveowners, who really knew about cheap labor. The businessmen in question are hugely influential in the Republican Party, and have persuaded a surprising chunk of it (including the current president) to support the “reform” bill, even though every sensible Republican strategist realizes that in the long run they are risking party suicide.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with immigration, or with Hispanic immigration. It is perfectly true that America has always welcomed immigrants, and has prospered hugely from their contributions. But the flood of Hispanic immigration in the past three decades, both legal and illegal, has simply overwhelmed the normal assimilative capacities of American society, and if continued much longer (as you can bet it will be, as long the aforementioned coalition has a breath left in its body) it will transform the United States into a bilingual, bicultural hodgepodge with quite possibly fatal internal divisions. The result would be no different if we were suddenly inundated with 20 or 30 million Poles or Turks.
The supporters of the “reform” bill are fond of pointing to various provisions (e.g., the pitiful fines illegals would have to pay) that are supposedly tough, and of challenging its opponents to come up with something better. But the truth is that their “solution” is so bad that even the status quo is better. Far better to have 12 million illegals doing cheap labor for businessmen willing to defy the law than giving them all citizenship and welcoming the next twelve million. “Border enforcement” has been a standing joke for 20 years.
And bear in mind that when the “reform” bill is finally passed (as it very probably will be), its enforcement will be in the hands of the Democratic party, which seems likely to sweep the 2008 elections to spank George Bush for Iraq. How much of that “fence,” do you suppose, will actually be built on the Democrats’ watch? How long will it take Nancy Pelosi to reinstate the current preference for admitting the distant relatives of Hispanics already here, as she has already called for doing in the high name of “family values”? How hard will the immigration enforcers be told to look for, and deport, the new workers brought in for two years, if they don’t go home for a year (as required by the “reform” bill) after that?
Above all, who — if anybody — is looking out for the long-range future of this country? In a column published in April 2006, I warned those who wanted true immigration reform that “We are at least 20 years too late.” We have put up a mighty fight this year, but if the current “reform” bill is ultimately passed, that gloomy assessment will be vindicated. We are in the grip of a coalition of businessmen without foresight and politicians without scruples. And anyone who lives through the next fifty years will see the United States transformed from a proud English-speaking nation in the West European tradition into a polyglot multicultural mess.
WASHINGTON – As legislators negotiate how to revive an immigration bill, the once largely mum American public is using the second chance to campaign and organize massive rallies to voice their opinions in the likelihood that the controversial bill will resurface on the Senate floor in the near future.
Both supporters and opponents of the immigration reform bill began to campaign or stage rallies this week to make their voices heard in the nation’s capital.
A group of grassroots advocates kicked-off the first of their three-day March for America rally at the Washington National Monument on Thursday. During the rally, participants will urge Congress to enact tougher laws against illegal immigrants.
Some of the major concerns of the protestors include border security, rising crime rates, overstretched schools and hospital, job loss, and the Spanish dominating American society.
“All of this is adding up, and it’s making America mad,” Suzanne Wide, co-organizer of March for America, said to The Washington Post.
Organizers hope the rally will draw up to 10,000 people on Saturday.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the nation, trains carrying immigrant rights advocates began their trek from Los Angeles to Washington to lobby support for illegal immigrants on Wednesday.
The “Dreams Across America” campaign, organized in part by the Roman Catholic Church, brings dozens of legal immigrants to cities across the United States to tell their stories in an effort to ease concerns and misconceptions about border security and amnesty for illegal immigrants, according to The New York Times.
Long-time immigrant rights supporter Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, was present at the send-off and prayed for the campaign activists who are scheduled to reach Washington on June 19.
A separate caravan, which left Los Angeles on Sunday, is expected to arrive in Washington Thursday to deliver 1 million letters from people asking for a path to become citizens to a group of senators, according to The Associated Press.
At the heart of both advocacy efforts is a controversial comprehensive immigration reform bill, composed by a bipartisan group of senators and White House negotiators, which was stalled last week by a failed cloture motion. The bill provides a pathway for 12 million illegal immigrants to become citizen, increases border security measures, and enforces stricter laws barring employers from hiring illegal immigrants.
Many of the bill’s immigrant proponents support the bill with reservations. They urge the passage of the bill as a first step and hope that in the process of it becoming law there will be changes to it which would be more favorable to immigrants including increased protection for the immigrant family.
The issue of a comprehensive immigration reform bill has increasingly received more support from Christian leaders and churches who call for a humane and biblical response to the immigration crisis.
Across the nation, churches have joined together for a New Sanctuary Movement to shelter illegal immigrants facing deportation considering most law enforcement officers do not enter church property to arrest illegal immigrants.
Catholic dioceses nationwide participated in a day of prayer for immigration reform last Sunday.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, were in Washington on Wednesday hammering out a potential deal to garner Republican support by requiring some $4 billion to be spent on border security and workplace enforcement, according to AP. Republican architects say that the agreement might be set as early as Thursday.
By Rebecca Hagelin
I’ve never been more proud to work at The Heritage Foundation than I was this past Monday.
I was seated at a conference table with 31 of the brightest, most analytical and highly principled people I’ve ever known as we dissected and analyzed various ripple effects of the Senate’s devastating immigration-reform proposal. After spending an entire weekend digging through a document that had remained secret for so long, Heritage was further scrutinizing it — and doing what many in the U.S. Senate refused to do: Reveal the truth.
Heritage received the “secret” text — one that would fundamentally change the American landscape — around two o’clock in the morning on Saturday. Within hours it was posted online at heritage.org for all to read. The next day, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., mentioned this on the Senate floor:
“For the sake of open deliberation and public education, The Heritage Foundation, which got a copy of the bill somehow, is making this legislation, in draft form, publicly available to encourage widespread debate and discussion. Thank goodness they did make it public … It’s an opportunity, really, for the American people to know what’s involved.”
The document had been developed behind closed doors — away from public scrutiny. It was crafted far from the eyes of ordinary Americans. Once Heritage experts read the drafts, it became painfully clear that our government is considering a measure that would provide amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants and create multiple problems for how we deal with those pouring over the border in the future.
Heritage experts crunched numbers throughout the weekend, weighing the cost both in dollars and in what it would mean to sacrifice the rule of law. We provided analysis through blogging on heritage.org and through columns to sites such as National Review Online, where Heritage constitutional scholar Matthew Spalding built a devastating case for why the measure amounted to amnesty. Again, Heritage did what the Senate failed to do: Inform the public.
But Heritage didn’t stop there. My colleagues continued to scrutinize every line of the bill, researched past proposals, discussed alternative measures, churned out documents on the many problems of the legislation and how to solve them. Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will eventually make them eligible for welfare, Social Security, Medicare and other government benefits. Senior research fellow Robert Rector gave a preliminary estimate of the cost of amnesty to the taxpayer — a whopping $400,000 per person over the average lifespan and age of entry for the illegal immigrant. Rector called the bill “a blank check to illegal immigrants written at taxpayer expense.” Again, Heritage did something the Senate refused to do: Think critically.
One of the many tragic results of this bill is that people will begin to flood over the border in numbers yet unseen in this country to register for the probationary period. An illegal immigrant needs only two affidavits (one of which can be from a family member) stating that he or she has been here and illegally working before January of this year. Any alien now in custody for entering the country illegally, or anyone caught crossing the border, will actually be offered the opportunity to fill out the paperwork to be put on the road to the entire package of U.S. benefits. Some 12 million people are estimated to take this first step to becoming a protected member of the United States on some level. They will immediately be able to enjoy free emergency health care, free public education and free welfare programs for children.
Another tragedy is the bogus background check. The federal government has only 24 hours to produce criminal records for probationary applicants before the protection status is granted. Just 24 hours! In many cases, it takes longer than that for a background check when a U.S. citizen is arrested. Suppose three or five or 10 days later, a prior conviction is discovered? Too bad. That person is long gone, with a protection card in hand.
Perhaps this helps explain the secrecy that surrounded this bill — at least, until Heritage got a hold of it. According to Rector, “Any illegal immigrant during the next two years who enters the country and claims amnesty cannot be arrested, detained or deported. It’s essentially a get-out-of-jail-free card for future illegal immigrants.”
Our discussion around the table kept referring back to a previously written Heritage paper on principles of immigration reform. Government must be founded on core principles. When it isn’t, matters can spiral out of control easily. In demanding that the Senate act on core principles, Heritage did what the Senate has neglected to do in writing the immigration bill: Use principles as a foundation for policy.
“First Principles” is a rally cry often heard at Heritage’s headquarters. We’ll continue insisting on them — and you can rest assured that we’ll keep you apprised of the latest developments in the immigration debate.
The immigration reform bill recently announced in the U.S. Senate should be titled the Act to Destroy the Republican Party because it pits President George W. Bush against the majority of the Republican Party that elected him. When Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., appeared as the centerpiece of the photo-op announcing it, that told the grass roots all they needed to know about the politics of the deal trumpeted as bipartisan.
The Bush administration has been tone deaf about how offensive some find the words “comprehensive” and “compromise.” The American people want border security that they can see with their own eyes, and they are ready to defeat and disdain congressional representatives who vote for a package deal that contains amnesty and guest-worker proposals.
Despite denials, the bill is amnesty. It will give up to an estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants exactly what they want, namely, the legal right to remain in the United States by being immediately given a probationary visa. The bill increases legal migration by at least 50% over the next decade by granting green cards to all the remote relatives who are in the chain migration categories, a number estimated at 750,000 to 900,000 a year. That is triple the current number of 250,000. Giving green cards to millions of additional relatives ensures that legal immigration will continue to grow as this larger pool of permanent residents brings in spouses.
The bill will bring into the United States country at least 400,000 guest workers per year. That’s twice the number in last year’s unacceptable Senate bill.
The bill claims that bench marks must be met before amnesty/guest-worker provisions go into effect. But the bench marks fail to require that the U.S.-Mexico border be closed, fail to require that the border fence be completed as mandated by Congress in October and fail to require that the Department of Homeland Security implement the entry-exit visa system so Americans can know if visitors and guest workers actually leave. The bench marks also fail to require employee verification and fail to require that the Department of Homeland Security deports absconders, such as the 600,000 immigrants who have already been ordered deported.
The only thing the bill actually requires is that Department of Homeland Security speedily process amnesty applications and green cards for chain migration.
The border security part of the bill calls for a 370-mile-long fence on the U.S./Mexico border. That is only half as long as the 700-mile-long fence ordered by the Secure Fence Act passed overwhelmingly by Congress and ostentatiously signed by the president in front of TV cameras just before the November 2006 election.
The Senate bill authorizes 4,000 new Border Patrol agents, but doesn’t require that they be trained or deployed. It’s difficult to hire and keep Border Patrol agents because of the way some have been prosecuted and sentenced to long prison terms after intercepting professional drug smugglers bringing in vans of illegal drugs.
Another bench mark is that “tools” will be provided to prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs, including requirements for identification standards and an employee verification system. But the bill lacks a requirement that anybody actually use the tools.
WASHINGTON — A defiant group of senators refused to continue down the path of a widely unpopular immigration reform bill Thursday, putting up a roadblock on a procedural debate and squeezing out any time left to work on one of President Bush’s top domestic priorities.
On the cloture vote — the test to end debate and move to passage — the Senate voted 46-53 not to carry the motion. Sixty votes were needed for forward progress.
The tally is a turnaround of 18 votes from two days earlier. For varying reasons, six Democrats and 12 Republicans changed their votes to ‘no’ from a Tuesday vote that allowed the Senate to take up amendments on the bill. No one changed their votes to ‘yes.’
Democrats who changed their votes were: Sens. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Jim Webb of Virginia.
Republicans who changed their votes were: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Susan Collins of Maine, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, John Ensign of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens of Alaska, George Voinovich of Ohio and John Warner of Virginia.
The vote most likely puts an end to efforts to fix the country’s porous borders and legalize the 12 million unlawful immigrants now living inside the U.S. The issue is so volatile, lawmakers won’t want to touch it before the next presidential election.
Still, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who co-authored the legislation along with Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, said the bill would live to see another day.
“The United States Senate was created just for this kind of issue. ... You cannot stop the march for progress in the United States, and on this issue I have every hope and every expectation that we will ultimately be successful.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also tried to find a silver lining.
“Even though the vote is really disheartening to me in many ways, I think as a result of this legislative work that we’ve done in the last several months, there have been friendships developed that weren’t there before,” Reid said after the vote ended.
He added that he was hopeful those friendships could be used to build coalitions to resurrect portions of the bill that the majority does want passed.
As day broke Thursday ahead of a vote to cut off debate, it appeared only the White House believed the bill could be saved. An increasing number of senior Senate aides and outside lobbyists who support the bill reconciled themselves to defeat.
Bush, making a last-ditch bid to salvage the bill, called senators early Thursday morning to urge their support. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez approached senators as they entered and left the chamber shortly before the vote.
Afterward, Bush, whose job approval rating dropped to 31% in the latest FOX News-Opinion Dynamics poll out Thursday, said he was sorry the Senate could not reach agreement on the bill.
“Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people and Congress’s failure to act on it is a disappointment. The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws. A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find a common ground — it didn’t work,” he said.
But Senate leaders began to see the writing on the wall as tallies for the necessary 60 votes showed critical support had been lost. Part of the change of heart was no doubt spurred by public opposition, spurred by talk radio hosts.
Opponents of the bill — Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who had been a frequent guest on the radio circuit, and Jim DeMint of South Carolina — remarked on the Senate floor that the sergeant-at-arms’ office told them that the volume of calls leading up to the immigration vote was so high it had crashed the phone system, and no one was able to get through during morning debate.
Along with the senators’ effort to slow the debate, the phone calls that came in “did make a difference,” DeMint said after the vote.
Domenici, who once supported the bill and is up for re-election in 2008, told FOX News that Republicans are “getting hammered here at home and for what? Something that doesn’t even have the chance of becoming law? No. This bill is going down. ... Why are we having all these big amendments? They (supporters) don’t even know what’s in this bill. We learned it’s not even enforceable. I just don’t think I can support this bill.”
Many lawmakers who changed their mind and voted against the bill added that they didn’t see the point of wasting their time when the bill was going to die in the House of Representatives. On Tuesday, only 23 of the 201 Republican congressman said they supported the bill. Internal Democratic counts were not made public.
Before the vote, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus cancled a morning meeting to lobby their colleagues in the upper chamber, and bill supporters in the Senate made one last, passionate pitch to keep the bill alive.
“This is a vote of enormous importance,” Kennedy said. “This is really the vital vote about the future of the country or the past. Every person that votes ‘no’ has to know this situation is going to get worse and worse and worse.”
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., called the bill “the very best that can be done.”
“Let us finish this bill,” implored Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “To cut this bill off now is a huge mistake. We are so close.”
Prior to the vote, opponents appeared to sense that victory was within grasp. DeMint said the whole debate demonstrated why Americans are feeling a “crisis of confidence” in their government.
“This immigration bill has become a war between the American people and their government. ... This vote today is really not about immigration, it’s about whether we’re going to listen to the American people,” he said.
“I don’t pretend to know that I am on the right side or the wrong side of the American people,” responded Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a supporter of the bill who added that once the provisions are explained to Americans, polls show they overwhelmingly support it.
But Sen. Elizabeth H. Dole, R-N.C., said many Americans “don’t have confidence” that U.S. borders, especially those with Mexico, will be significantly tightened, especially since legislation passed last year to set up hundreds of miles of border fencing had not yet been enforced.
“It’s not just promises but proof that the American people want,” Dole said.
Afterward, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., suggested that the Senate would be willing to consider “a supplemental appropriations bill to do the significant increased enforcement that we can clearly do.”
Vitter added that their vote does not mean they are anti-immigrant, and to suggest that the 80% of Americans who opposed the bill are racist “I think itself is the height of ugliness and arrogance.”
By The Editors
The comprehensivists have one last argument for passing an immigration bill that even they concede is flawed: It is important for Republicans to “pass something that takes immigration off the table” before the next election. Needless to say, they would not take their own advice if an enforcement-first bill were on the table. But they seem sincerely to believe that after this bill is passed, the party’s divisions will heal.
Dream on. The comprehensivists are right to say that the passionate opponents of amnesty are a “vocal minority” of Americans; no side of any political debate enlists both the allegiance and the passion of a majority of Americans. But this minority is passionate, large, and a crucial component of any winning Republican coalition. It will interpret passage, not to mention the insults that have come its way in recent weeks, to mean that the party is throwing away its support, and it will not forget.
There will, after all, be constant reminders. If the bill passes, illegal immigrants will almost all soon get their “probationary” legal status. Everyone will be able to see who was right about whether this bill constituted an amnesty. As the months go by, there will be regular reports about the progress of the enforcement measures in the bill: about the inability of the bureaucracy to do real security checks; about the foot-dragging on the border fence; about the drop-off in enforcement actions after the bill was passed; about the new illegal immigrants headed our way.
Immigration has become more than a discrete public-policy issue. Thanks in large part to the comprehensivists’ handling of it, it has become a symbol of everything that many Americans detest about our political class. Both the president and the Congress have very low approval ratings. This bill will send them lower. The number of Americans who tell pollsters that “Washington doesn’t listen to people like me” will go up. As it should.
Michael Barone, a relatively sober-minded comprehensivist, writes that we have entered a period of “open field politics,” like the one we had between 1990 and 1995. Then, it was the deficit that had acquired an outsized political importance as the symbol of an out-of-control government. During that period, the first President Bush’s broken tax pledge destabilized political alignments by diminishing the trust between rulers and ruled. The immigration bill could function the same way today. It is an unpopular bill that violates both the interests and the values of many Americans, and it is being sold with deceit and procedural chicanery.
Republicans who cooperate with it will not take the issue off the table. They will find themselves with fewer and fewer table-mates.
By Rich Lowry
Beware of an aroused citizenry. It’s an admonition that should be ingrained in the brain of any run-of-the-mill politician, let alone someone who has ascended to the United States Senate.
But from the Olympian heights of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is often forgotten. So senators got a reminder in the humiliating defeat of a “comprehensive” immigration bill that had the support of the president of the United States, a bipartisan group of senators with the blessing of the leaders of their caucuses, and the support of the editorial boards of the country’s most important newspapers.
All of that was enough to get all of 46 votes on a key procedural vote that needed 60 to pass. The fight over the immigration bill was the first instance of an insider parliamentary struggle in which bloggers, talk-radio hosts and citizens were able to have a major voice through the synergistic power of the Internet, radio waves and telephone lines. Bloggers picked apart the bill, talk-radio-show hosts broadcast its flaws, and ordinary people jammed their senators’ phone lines — blocking what had begun as a kind of legislative coup.
The creators of the Senate’s so-called Grand Bargain — giving illegal aliens legal status in exchange for new enforcement measures — originally hoped to slam it through the Senate in a matter of days. Even as they held a self-congratulatory press conference about the bargain, no one had seen the text of the 300-page bill. Their implicit axiom was, “Trust us.”
It quickly became clear that was impossible. The bill’s boosters repeatedly were caught mischaracterizing it. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff seemed to suggest that illegals would have to pay back taxes, when the White House had quietly taken that provision out. Bloggers and talk-show hosts publicized this and other problems that otherwise would have gone unnoticed (John McCain learned of the tax provision in a blogger conference call), slowing its momentum.
As the techno-populists dissected the bill, its senatorial supporters mustered their most off-putting imperial pique. Mississippi Republican Trent Lott rued that talk radio was “running the country.” Ohio Republican George Voinovich went on the Sean Hannity radio show and complained that he was being “intimidated” because people were calling his office opposing the bill.
President Bush said opponents hadn’t read the bill, when diligent bloggers combed through it line by line. They gave the bill the markup — the detailed process of amendment — that it never got in committee because there was such a rush to passage. Even the procedural shenanigans that the bill’s supporters relied on to try to get it through were subject to the intense glare of publicity. Instead of helping the bill’s cause — as such arcane maneuvers would have in the past — they hurt it by adding to the sense of chaos and unfairness around the process.
Once, the Senate leadership would have been able to lean on members opposed to the bill to do a dishonest two-step to pass it. First, vote for cloture to end debate over the bill, which requires 60 votes and was the toughest hurdle. Then, vote against it on final passage, which takes only 50 votes — so there would be more wiggle room for “no” votes. This way, the Senate leadership would have gotten its bill, and senators opposed to it could tell constituents back home that they had voted against it. But bloggers and talk-radio hosts blocked that dodge by sending up a cry, “A vote for cloture is a vote for amnesty.”
In the end, support for the bill literally collapsed. Even the imperious Voinovich voted against cloture. Now, there is really no such thing as an “inside game” anymore, since bloggers make sure it gets “outside.” Both the right and the left will take advantage of this, for good and ill policy ends. But it’s clearly an enhancement of democracy. Senators should get used to it, and buy more phone lines.
By The Editors
For months, the establishment dismissed those of us opposed to amnesty as a tiny minority of the public and the Congress. On Thursday, that “tiny minority” outnumbered the pro-amnesty forces in the Senate, dealing a humiliating and well-deserved defeat to President Bush. The same White House that insisted that there was no realistic alternative to “comprehensive immigration reform” had better recalibrate its realism now. There always were better alternatives, and the president and his party have no way out of the immigration morass he has created unless they pursue them.
Nor does the country. The public is rightly dismayed at our incapacity to exercise a key attribute of sovereignty: control of the borders. For decades, our elected officials have passed immigration laws that they lack the political will to enforce. Among the fallacies of “comprehensive reform” was the notion that this situation could be fixed instantaneously. It cannot. But by rejecting a solution that would make the problem worse, we may have taken the first of many steps toward a better immigration system.
The next step ought to be President Bush’s. As divisive as this debate has been, it did reveal a consensus on the need to enforce current laws. The president should accept that consensus and act on it. If necessary, he should request additional authority and resources for the purpose.
Under current law, the border can be secured and the administration can crack down on scofflaw employers. Contractors can be required to enroll in the government’s employee-verification system as a condition of doing business with the federal government. The Social Security Administration identifies tens of thousands of W-2 forms with false or stolen Social Security numbers. The IRS can fine employers who file a significant number of such forms.
In arguing for the comprehensive reform, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff said that his department needed data from the Social Security Administration to enforce the law on employers. There never was any need to hold that simple reform hostage to amnesty, and the president should ask Congress to enact it now. He should also clarify that state and local law-enforcement agencies have the constitutional authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration laws.
Bush could also learn from some of the amendments offered during the recent debate. Court-ordered restrictions on deportation should, where possible, be eased. “Sanctuary cities” ought to be penalized. So should visitors who overstay their visas.
The president’s error has been to regard controlling immigration and welcoming newcomers as polar opposites. But a sensible control of immigration would provide both an economic basis for new immigrants to succeed and a political basis for them to be greeted warmly. And in any case, Republicans who seek their own political health no longer have a choice in the matter.
Those who profit from porous borders took a risk when they broached the topic of comprehensive reform: that the public, long inattentive to the causes of our failing policy, might start taking a closer look. It is going to be much harder for the political class to follow its accustomed course. If the president charts a new one, he will have the support of the public and even some Democrats. If Congress balks, he will have in his hands a winning issue. That would be a nice change of pace, wouldn’t it?
By Linda Chavez [KH: pro-amnesty]
Immigration reform is dead. But before conservatives who killed this bill start popping champagne corks, they ought to consider the following.
Our borders will be less secure, not more. Employers who want to do the right thing and only hire legal workers won’t have the tools to do so. The 12 million illegal aliens who are here now will continue to live in the shadows, making them less likely to cooperate with law enforcement to report crimes and less likely to pay their full share of taxes. In other words, the mess we created by an outdated and ill-conceived immigration policy 20 years ago will just get worse.
But you won’t hear this if you tune in to talk radio over the next few days or read conservative blogs. There will be lots of gloating over having killed “amnesty.” There will be claims that senators finally “listened to the people.” And, no doubt, some conservatives will be emboldened to consider the next step in their war against illegal immigration, namely to deport those now here illegally.
What you won’t hear is that liberals are just as relieved that this bill didn’t pass as conservatives — and they know time is on their side. Their plan is to wait until January 2009, when they expect bigger Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and a Democrat in the White House, and then reintroduce immigration legislation. They know that the present laws can’t be enforced, not because of lack of will but because the laws themselves are inadequate and contradictory.
Under current law, an illegal alien can present a fake Social Security number and a fake identity card with a photo so long as it reasonably looks like a legitimate government I.D. If the employer is suspicious about the authenticity of the documents, there is little he or she can do now. Questioning the prospective employee could lead to a civil rights law violation — such objections are now one of the largest sources of civil rights complaints filed with Justice Department.
Even the government’s own program to check employment eligibility — Basic Pilot — is unreliable, failing to detect fraudulent employees so long as the Social Security numbers they use are valid and aren’t being used by other persons. Worse, the system spits out a high percentage of false ineligibles, in other words, citizens or legal residents who are entitled to work but are flagged because of outdated or inaccurate government data bases.
So how do you enforce the employer sanctions provisions of current law? You can’t, except sporadically, by raiding companies suspected of wrongdoing. Those raids make headlines, but they barely dent the problem of illegal workers. And, truth be told, if all illegal workers disappeared overnight, we’d be in a bind.
The United States creates 1.5 to 2 million jobs every year, but without immigrants — legal and illegal — we’d have a hard time filling all those jobs. The sensible way to solve that problem would be to create a market-based legal immigration system that would increase the number of persons admitted when job creation justified it and decrease the number when unemployment rose.
Of course, the priority for new jobs has to go to Americans first — but some jobs, at both ends of the job skills spectrum, will go unfilled unless we allow foreign-born workers to take them. Not enough young Americans are studying engineering, science and mathematics to fill all the jobs that require those skills. And Americans are over-educated to fill the jobs at the lowest end of the skills spectrum.
But none of this matters to the radio talk show hosts who encouraged their millions of listeners to shut down the congressional phone system with calls protesting “amnesty.” Nor does it matter to the myriad direct mail outfits opposing immigration, which will reap tens of millions of dollars in donations to fatten their coffers as a result of this “victory.”
Meanwhile, the real majority of Americans will have to wait for genuine immigration reform. And Republicans who believe this is going to help them at the polls in 2008 may well find themselves sitting on the back benches for years to come.
By Michelle Malkin
Amnesty is dead. Now, let’s talk about the other “A” word. It’s the word and the concept completely abandoned during the immigration debate: assimilation.
Over the last year, hundreds of thousands of illegal alien demonstrators took to the streets lobbying for amnesty. Marchers waved Amnestia Ahora! placards in one hand, the flags of their native countries in the other. Open-borders strategists quickly replaced the foreign flags with Old Glory after militant activists caused a public backlash last year. National newspapers played dutiful propagandists and splashed patriotic photo-ops of the “undocumented” masses wrapped in red, white, and blue to drum up sympathy.
But now that they’ve lost their amnesty fight, will they still embrace American symbols and traditions? Or was it all for show? And what of all that talk of illegal aliens being willing to study citizenship and civics? And take English classes? Why must they be bribed with the promise of a temporary guest worker visa and mass governmental pardon in order to adapt to our way of life? When did assimilation become the means and not an end in itself?
The inflection point can perhaps be traced to the moment when politicians were permitted to invoke the “America is a nation of immigrants” platitude as a mindless justification for open borders.
The fact is: We are not a “nation of immigrants.” This is both a factual error and a warm-and-fuzzy non sequitur. 85% of the residents currently in the United States were born here. Sure, we are almost all descendants of immigrants. But we are not a “nation of immigrants.”
(Isn’t it funny, by the way, how the politically correct multiculturalists who claim we are a “nation of immigrants” are so insensitive toward Native American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians, and descendants of black slaves who did not “immigrate” here in any common sense of the word?)
Even if we were a “nation of immigrants,” it does not explain why we should be against sensible immigration control. And if the open-borders advocates would actually read American history instead of revising it, they would see that the founding fathers were emphatically insistent on protecting the country against indiscriminate mass immigration. They insisted on assimilation as a pre-condition, not an afterthought. Historian John Fonte assembled their wisdom:
George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, stated that immigrants should be absorbed into American life so that “by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.”
In a 1790 speech to Congress on the naturalization of immigrants, James Madison stated that America should welcome the immigrant who could assimilate, but exclude the immigrant who could not readily “incorporate himself into our society.”
Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1802: “The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education and family.”
Hamilton further warned that “The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.”
The survival of the American republic, Hamilton maintained, depends upon “the preservation of a national spirit and a national character.” “To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens the moment they put foot in our country would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty.”
We are not a nation of immigrants. We are first and foremost a nation of laws. The U.S. Constitution does not say that the paramount duty of government is to “Celebrate Diversity” or to “embrace multiculturalism” or to give “every willing worker” in the world a job. The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution says the Constitution was established “to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”
As our Founding Fathers recognized, fulfilling these fundamental duties is impossible without an orderly immigration and entrance system that discriminates in favor of those willing, as George Washington put it, to “get assimilated to our customs, measures [and] laws.”
Lest there be any doubt this Independence Day about the perils of ignoring the Founding Fathers’ advice, I invite you to contemplate the abyss at Ground Zero. “The safety of the republic” is indeed at stake.
by Fred Barnes
THE IMMIGRATION BILL is dead, but the immigration issue is alive. And since the thundering herd that opposed the bill offers only stiffer border enforcement as an alternative, it’s left to advocates to come up with a better (and less narrow) measure. I don’t mean better in some theoretical or ideological sense, but better in terms of winning public support, passing the next Congress, and becoming the law of the land in 2009 or 2010.
The Republican architects of this year’s bill—chiefly Senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and John Kyl of Arizona—were actually working on improving their own legislation in substantial ways before time ran out in the Senate in late June. Their amendment was never introduced and never came to a vote.
But what Graham and Kyl advocated, belatedly, should not be forgotten when a new bill is drafted. Two of the amendment’s three major parts dealt with the single most controversial part of the bill, those relentlessly denounced Z visas that would allow illegal immigrants already in the country to stay indefinitely. Critics insisted that handing out Z visas to illegals constituted amnesty, and, in truth, they amounted to a sort of amnesty.
Indeed, the bill would have bestowed probationary Z visas on all unlawful immigrants 24 hours after the law went into effect, even if preliminary criminal database searches and other checks had not been completed—and few would have. Instead, the Graham-Kyl amendment said all checks to weed out criminals and others ineligible for permanent status would have to be finished before a probationary Z visa—good for 18 months or so—could be granted.
The second change would have required the head of household in an illegal immigrant family to return to his or her home country, if only briefly, to qualify for a permanent Z visa. In the bill, a so-called touchback was required only if the immigrant were, after eight years with a Z visa, seeking to become an American citizen.
The earlier touchback, plus the more sensible standard for a probationary visa, might ease the anxiety of opponents who feel illegal immigrants shouldn’t be given any favorable treatment at all. That was its aim anyway. Whether Democratic sponsors of this year’s bipartisan bill would have gone along—that we’ll never know.
The third Graham-Kyl change involved a less controversial yet enormously important aspect of illegal immigration: the 3 million to 4 million immigrants who overstay their visas. They would face a crackdown, with their names added to the nation’s criminal database if they didn’t report within 48 hours and with their chances of avoiding quick deportation sharply reduced.
Graham told me he concluded these changes were necessary after listening to hours of complaints about the original bill from senators, constituents, and interest groups. Without the changes, he said, he wouldn’t have voted for the bill. Without Graham’s support, it had little chance of passage. As it turned out, the bill (which I thought well worth enacting) was never directly voted on.
The Graham-Kyl amendment didn’t deal with two other areas of heartburn for foes of this year’s now defunct bill: the seriousness of border enforcement and the effectiveness of assimilation of millions of immigrants. And these are concerns the Bush administration—and the next administration, Republican or Democratic—must significantly ease if comprehensive immigration reform is to pass, ever.
Bush officials, however, took the exactly wrong tack on border protection after the bill failed on June 28. The president had promised an extra $4.4 billion for beefing up the border once the bill passed. But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Fox News Sunday that the money “was going to be secured by the payments made by illegals, so it would not bust the budget.” With no bill, he said, there’s no money.
“I think now those who have a better way ought to come forward with that better way,” Chertoff said. He was referring sarcastically to foes of the bill. The problem is they don’t have responsibility for the border, the administration does. And it’s up to the administration to demonstrate its seriousness about border enforcement. Coming up with the $4.4 billion would help.
One other step: waiting a year or so after the border is strengthened to make certain that the strengthening has actually reduced illegal immigration to a trickle.
As for assimilation, it has a history of having worked famously to turn immigrants into Americans, quickly in the case of some immigrant groups, more slowly with others. Still, many critics of immigration reform believe assimilation simply doesn’t work any more, especially with Spanish-speaking immigrants.
The answer is to make sure it does work in a way that satisfies most Americans. A good first step would be the requirement that illegal immigrants who wish to stay here swear an oath of allegiance to the United States and to maintaining its borders.
Also, the bar should be set fairly high for learning about America. Learning English is certain to be mandated in the next immigration reform bill. But immigrants who seek to become citizens should also be required to study the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the history behind American holidays from Martin Luther King Day to Thanksgiving.
Here’s the point: as crushing as the defeat of this year’s bill was, a lot can be learned from the experience. And if it’s not learned, the next immigration reform bill will face the same cruel fate.
WASHINGTON – A nuclear terrorist attack on the U.S. is better than an even bet in the next 10 years, says a former assistant secretary of defense and author of a book on the subject.
“Based on current trends, a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States is more likely than not in the decade ahead,” says Graham Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and author of “Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe.”
Allison, who has testified before Congress on the subject, says the illicit economy for narcotics and illegal alien trafficking “has built up a vast infrastructure that terrorists could exploit” in delivering a nuclear weapon to its target in the U.S.
Al-Qaida, which has threatened to launch an “American Hiroshima” attack on the U.S., remains Allison’s No. 1 suspect to pull off such a mission.
“Former CIA Director George J. Tenet wrote in his memoirs that al-Qaida’s leadership has remained ‘singularly focused on acquiring WMD’ – weapons of mass destruction – and willing to ‘pay whatever it would cost to get their hands on fissile material,’” Allison wrote in an opinion piece appearing in the Baltimore Sun prior to Independence Day.
Allison says there are several viable options open to terrorists determined to secure nuclear weapons.
“They could acquire an existing bomb from one of the nuclear weapons states or construct an elementary nuclear device from highly enriched uranium made by a state,” he wrote. “Theft of a warhead or material would not be easy, but attempted thefts in Russia and elsewhere are not uncommon.”
Allison says terrorists are capable of building their own nuclear weapons if they can simply secure the fissile material.
“Once a terrorist group acquires about 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium, it could conceivably use publicly available documents and items commercially obtainable in any technologically advanced country to construct a bomb such as the one dropped on Hiroshima,” he states.
The threat is imminent, says Allison.
“If terrorists bought or stole a nuclear weapon in good working condition, they could explode it today,” he explains. “If the weapon had a lock, detonation would be delayed for several days. If terrorists acquired 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium, they could have a working elementary nuclear bomb in less than a year.”
WND first broke the story of Osama bin Laden’s plans for a nuclear terrorist attack on multiple cities in the U.S.
President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the 9/11 commission have all concluded a nuclear terrorist attack is not only the nation’s No. 1 nightmare but also something of an inevitability at some time in the future.
Earlier this year, WND reported how the most extensive study of the effects of nuclear detonations in four major U.S. cities paints a grim picture of millions of deaths, overwhelmed hospitals and loss of command-and-control capability by government.
But the three-year study by researchers at the Center for Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia says a concerted effort to teach civilians what to do in the event of a nuclear attack is the best – perhaps only – thing that could save an untold number of lives that will otherwise be needlessly lost.
“If a nuclear detonation were to occur in a downtown area, the picture would be bleak there,” said Cham Dallas, director of the program and professor in the college of pharmacy. “But in urban areas farther from the detonation, there actually is quite a bit that we can do. In certain areas, it may be possible to turn the death rate from 90% in some burn populations to probably 20 or 30% – and those are very big differences – simply by being prepared well in advance.”
PHOENIX — Police in suburban Scottsdale have begun routinely asking for proof of citizenship from every suspect they arrest and turning those who are in this country illegally over to federal immigration officials.
The procedure was started Oct. 15, a result of the September killing of Phoenix police officer Nick Erfle by an illegal immigrant, Erik Jovani Martinez.
Scottsdale police had arrested Martinez on a misdemeanor charge 16 months earlier but they released him then because they didn’t know he was an illegal immigrant who had been twice deported.
Erfle’s killing “caused us to look at what were asking suspects,” Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said. “If we arrest someone and then find that we called ICE (Customs and Immigration Enforcement) and they put a hold on them, then we know they have been deported and are back again.”
Martinez was later killed by police after he stole a car and took a hostage, authorities said.
Now police in the affluent suburb ask every suspect about their citizenship, have ICE agents pick up those who are in this country illegally, and keep a database of possible illegal immigrants in case they turn up again.
Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross supports the policy change and said that because every suspect is asked about citizenship, police are not engaged in racial profiling.
“I would not tolerate that,” Manross said. “I think the chief has struck the right balance to do what we want to achieve.”
Clark said that in the past Scottsdale officers didn’t routinely call ICE about illegal immigrants because the agency was short-handed and could not always respond.
That’s changed, said Eduardo Preciado, an assistant ICE field officer in Phoenix. The agency was short-staffed until about a year ago when it added agents to man phones and to assist local law enforcement agencies, he said.
“Now we respond to every call,” Preciado said.
PHOENIX — Four dozen people accused of taking part in an immigrant trafficking ring have been indicted on human smuggling and money laundering charges, authorities said.
The group brought in as much as US$130,000 a week moving people from Naco, Mexico, to its center of operations in Phoenix and then to destinations across the U.S., Phoenix police Lt. Vince Piano said Thursday.
Piano said the ring was believed to be one of the biggest operating in Arizona, the busiest illegal entry point into the country.
“It’s not the end of the game, but we believe we have made some very important intelligence directions in the fight against the smugglers,” said Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, whose office was prosecuting the case.
Ten of the 48 suspects were arrested. An additional 10 people who are expected to face charges in the future also were netted in the sweep, authorities said.
The investigation led to the discovery of 13 “drop houses” in Phoenix where human smugglers hold customers until they pay up and are sent to their final destinations. The area is believed to have about 1,000 drop houses.
Authorities allege that two Cuban immigrants living in the area, 41-year-old Jose Luis Suarez-Lemus and 35-year-old Roel Ayala Fernandez, ran the ring and paid people in Mexico and Arizona to help smuggle immigrants.
“The police just came in the house and found no proof,” said Suarez-Lemus’ stepson, Daril Hidalgo, who answered the phone at the accused smuggler’s home and whose name was not mentioned in the redacted indictment released to reporters. Hidalgo said he did not know the name of Suarez-Lemus’ lawyer.
It was not immediately clear whether Fernandez had a lawyer. He did not have a listed phone number.
The two paid recruiters in Mexico to find customers, Mexican police to allow smugglers to stage their crossings and trail guides to lead immigrants through a conservation area in southeast Arizona, Piano said.
Drivers were paid to bring the immigrants by van to Phoenix, and other drivers were used to spot law enforcement vehicles and protect rival smugglers from forcing them off the road in an attempt to kidnap and extort their customers, he said.
Once the immigrants were in a drop house and payments were made, drivers were hired to bring immigrants to spots across the country, authorities said.
They said the group would move four to six loads of immigrants per day, each with six to 10 people. Smuggling fees averaged US$2,500 per person.
Talking to a Toronto MP at a recent gathering in Ottawa, a senior Liberal asked how the party’s position on Conservative immigration reforms was playing at the riding level.
The reply: About as popular on doorsteps as the Boston Strangler.
The problem for Grits is that the proposed legislation has both supporters and detractors in ethnic communities. But even opponents don’t support the Liberal position of opposing the legislation until it comes to a vote, at which point their opposition will melt like snow in a river. According to Maurizio Bevilacqua, the Liberal immigration critic, by registering their opposition without actually defeating the government, the Grits are putting down a marker. But it is an untenable position that is clearly hurting them with some of their staunchest supporters in immigrant communities.
“This is the party that in every election positions itself as a friend of immigrants — that lives off the Trudeau legacy. But it doesn’t have the courage to stand up and oppose this legislation. It’s just incredible,” said Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Foundation.
The Liberals have been pinning their hopes on the immigration changes since it became clear the Cadman affair was not catching fire with voters. Liberal MPs have fanned out across the country claiming the changes, which include giving new powers to the immigration minister, would result in quotas and queue-jumping that would hurt family reunification cases.
One Liberal MP is even said to have told a gathering of Pakistanis in his riding that the bill is aimed at stopping Islamic immigration because the Conservatives don’t like Muslims. The MP’s office says he has no memory of making those comments and there is no record of the meeting to verify the claim.
The government has not helped its cause by wrapping the legislation into the budget implementation bill, which means defeating it would spark an election.
This has allowed the Liberals to paint the changes as part of a “hidden agenda ... introduced through the backdoor,” as Stephane Dion did yesterday during Question Period.
Nevertheless, the Conservatives have articulated a common-sense case that has persuaded some representatives in ethnic communities that the proposed changes are in their best interests. Wojciech Sniegowski, president of the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce in Toronto, said he’s come to the conclusion there is no inherent danger in the proposals and that they are designed merely to give the minister flexibility to respond to labour shortages.
“The most important thing is that, if nothing is done, by 2012 the backlog will be such that people will be waiting 10 years for their applications to be heard. I’m glad to see the government doing something,” he said.
Tom Pang of the Chinese Canadian Community Alliance in Toronto said the bill is good legislation. “It has everything to do with skills and it will bring the right type of people into Canada. Unfortunately, some people in the community think it is designed to stop people of certain ethnic backgrounds from coming to Canada but that is not what it is about,” he said.
In fact, Diane Finley, the Immigration Minister, would likely be in contravention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms if she issued a directive based on race or religion. This has not stopped groups such as the Canadian Arab Federation and the Chinese Canadian National Council from mobilizing opposition to the bill on the basis that the Minister would be given too much power to decide which types of immigrants can come to Canada.
Mr. Boudjenane conjured up images of discrimination against Chinese Canadians in the last century or against Italian immigrants in the 1950s. “I’m not saying they will discriminate against Arabs or Muslims, but who knows?” he said.
Yet while he is suspicious of the Conservatives, Mr. Boudjenane reserved his real vitriol for the Liberals. “This party is only interested in its own political survival,” he said.
The NDP has been vocal and active in opposition to the legislation; immigration critic Olivia Chow will introduce an amendment to the budget bill today calling for the immigration section to be removed because it lacks fairness and transparency.
However, the amendment is doomed because the Liberals will once again sit on their hands. Most Liberals would like to follow their consciences on the vote but, as in so many recent instances, they can’t because their consciences are not going in the same direction as they are.
JOHANNESBURG: The man certainly looked dead, lying motionless in the dust of the squatter camp. His body seemed almost like a bottle that had been turned on its side, spilling blood. His pants were red with the moisture.
Nearby was evidence of what he had endured. A large rock had been used to gouge his torso. Embers remained from a fire that had been part of some torture. Shards of a burned jacket still clung to the victim’s left forearm.
Then, as people stepped closer, there was the faintest of breath pushing against his chest. “This guy may be alive,” someone surmised. As if to confirm it, the man moved the fingers of his right hand.
The jaded crowd neither rejoiced nor lamented. After all, the horrific attacks against immigrants around Johannesburg had already been going on for a week, and in their eyes the victim was just some Malawian or Zimbabwean, another casualty in the continuing purge.
This nation is undergoing a spasm of xenophobia, with poor South Africans taking out their rage on the poor foreigners living in their midst. At least 22 people had been killed by Monday in the unrelenting mayhem, the police said.
But the death toll only hints at the consequences. Thousands of immigrants have been scattered from their tumbledown homes. They now crowd the police stations and community centers of Johannesburg, some with the few possessions they could carry before mobs ransacked their hovels, most with nothing but the clothes they wore as they escaped.
“They came at night, trying to kill us, with people pointing out, ‘this one is a foreigner and this one is not,’ “ said Charles Mannyike, 28, an immigrant from Mozambique. “It was a very cruel and ugly hatred.”
Xenophobic violence, once an occasional malady around Johannesburg, is now a contagion, skipping from one area to another. The city has no shortage of neighborhoods where the poor cobble together shacks from corrugated metal and wood planks.
Since the end of apartheid, a small percentage of the nation’s black population — the highly skilled and the politically connected — has thrived. But the gap between the rich and poor has widened. The official rate of unemployment is 23%. Housing remains a deplorable problem.
“That’s fueling the rage at the bottom,” said Marius Root, a researcher at the South African Institute of Race Relations. “There’s the perception that they’re not enjoying the fruits of the liberation.”
Here at the Ramaphosa Settlement Camp, the squatter’s colony southeast of the city, six immigrants have been killed in the past two days — or perhaps seven if the man found in the dust Monday morning does not survive.
“We want all these foreigners to go back to their own lands,” said Thapelo Mgoqi, who considers himself a leader in Ramaphosa. “We waited for our government to do something about these people. But they did nothing and so now we are doing it ourselves, and we will not be stopped.”
A familiar litany of complaints against foreigners are passionately, if not always rationally, argued: They commit crimes. They undercut wages. They hold jobs that others deserve.
George Booysen said that as a born-again Christian he did not believe in killing. Still, something had to be done about these unwanted immigrants.
They are bad people, he said: “A South African may take your cellphone, but he won’t kill you. A foreigner will take your phone and kill you.”
Beyond that, he said, immigrants were too easy to exploit.
“White people hire the foreigners because they work hard and they do it for less money,” Booysen said. “A South African demands his rights and will go on strike. Foreigners are afraid.”
These days, the nights and early mornings belong to Ramaphosa’s marauders. On Monday, soon after dawn, they were boldly celebrating their victories. Stores belonging to immigrants already had been looted, but there were still fires to set and walls to overturn. There was dancing and some singing.
Then the police arrived, quick to fire rubber-tipped bullets. Rocks were tossed by the mob in counterattack, but in order to triumph they really only had to be patient. The police did not stay long. They could not keep up with the widespread frenzy.
Those left behind by the nation’s post-apartheid economy commonly blame those left even further behind, the powerless making scapegoats of the defenseless.
South Africa has 48 million people. It is hard to find a reliable estimate of the number of foreigners in the mix. Most certainly, not all immigrants push ahead of South Africans economically. But Somalis and Ethiopians have proved themselves successful shopkeepers in the townships.
Zimbabweans, who make up this country’s largest immigrant group, benefited from a strong educational system before their homeland plunged into collapse, sending an estimated three million across the border to seek refuge here. Schoolteachers and other professionals — their salaries rendered worthless by Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation — come to work as housekeepers and menial laborers.
Many South Africans consider themselves at a disadvantage with employers. “If you have a surname like mine, you can’t get a job,” said Samantha DuPlessis, 23, a woman of mixed race. “I’ve been looking for a job for four years. All the employers want to hire foreigners.”
So there is a nationalistic sense of jubilation in the areas where the immigrants have been dislodged. “The Maputos, we don’t want them around anymore and we’ll never have to worry about them again,” said Benjamin Matlala, 27, using a common term for people from Mozambique.
Matlala, who is unemployed, lives in Primrose, a community now emptied of its foreigners. The sections they lived in are being dismantled. First, the belongings of the fleeing immigrants were looted.
On Monday, the dwellings themselves were torn apart by dozens of eager men. It wasn’t difficult. Walls of thin metal were knocked over with a few blows. Wooden posts were pulled from the ground. Picture frames were tossed into a heap of rubbish.
Matlala had managed to get a shopping cart, which he filled with scrap metal. Each load, he said, would fetch 40 rand in trade, or about $5. He was hoping for three loads, more money than he had made in a long time.
by Diana West
President Bush has been “briefed,” as they say, about the extraordinary spate of Somali piracy that culminated this week in the seizure of the Sirius Star. Incredibly, this Saudi supertanker loaded with crude oil destined for the United States now joins a commandeered fleet of about a dozen ships and 200 crew being held by Somali pirates who, according to Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor, may well have links to jihadists.
I’m wondering whether President Bush, at any point in his briefing, ever thought to ask his experts: “What is up with Somalia?”
I say this given the disjointed but unmistakable prominence of Somalis in recent news. Or, rather, in what would have been recent news, maybe, if the media weren’t preoccupied with more weighty stories such as which Washington private school the Obama girls will attend next semester.
Within the last week, for example, the State Department confirmed that massive immigration fraud has been perpetrated overwhelmingly by Africans claimed as close kin (parent, spouse, minor child) by legal residents in the United States. (According to a report in the City Pages in Minneapolis, this scam has been netting some unknowns along the food chain up to $10,000 per head.) Given that Somalis form the largest bloc of African immigrants to the United States, this becomes another story with Somalis playing a starring role.
Evidence of “family” fakery came out in a very quietly released State Department fact sheet titled “Fraud in the Africa Priority Three (P-3) Program.” This release surely would have dropped into the post-Election, pre-Inauguration void of bliss enveloping official Washington were it not for the invaluable blog Refugee Resettlement Watch, which broke the story online.
In the form of a Q&A, the State Department declared that, due to evidence of massive fraud, the government was suspending the family reunification program in Africa, a decision it has since, also very quietly and without explanation, expanded to include the whole world.
How massive was this fraud? After initiating a DNA testing program among “family” members claiming P-3 status in Africa — where 95% of the P-3 applications originate primarily among Somalis, Ethiopians and Liberians — the State Department learned that out of 3,500 refugees tested it could only confirm family matches “in fewer than 20% of cases.” No wonder the secretary of State didn’t call a giant press conference to trumpet her department’s findings.
The P-3 program has brought upward of 36,000 Africans into the United States just since 2003 (with another 400 arriving from the rest of the world), so what now? Or, in Fact Sheet-speak:
“Q: What measures will be taken against the thousands of refugees who have come into the United States through the P-3 program in the last 20 years?
“A: That is a question for the Department of Homeland Security.”
Even as the State Department sends responsibility for this demoralizing incompetence into the ozone, the apparent consequences stay fixed on the ground — whether in the meatpacking plants of small-town America, where this year’s Ramadan was the occasion for workplace strife with mainly Somali Muslims striking over demands for Islamic prayer breaks, or in big-time politics.
In Minnesota, the largest Somali Muslim community in the United States (numbering tens of thousands of people) now holds a key to state political power. This same Somali community has made news before, for example, with attempts by Somali taxi drivers to enforce aspects of Islamic law (Sharia) in refusing to transport passengers with alcohol or seeing-eye dogs due to Islamic prohibitions against alcohol and dogs. But now, as the U.S. Senate race goes to an automatic recount after Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., defeated Democratic challenger Al Franken by a 215-vote margin, Minnesota’s Somali community is again making a few headlines.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who famously swore his 2007 oath of office on the Koran as the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, routinely declares that his 7,000-vote margin of victory came from Somali Muslims. Last month, Ellison was campaigning for that same Somali Muslim vote on behalf of Al Franken.
And what’s newsworthy about that? In this case, the point is not that Ellison was campaigning for the Somali vote, but rather with whom he was campaigning.
According to AsianTribune.com, after Ellison made a standard, if Somali-oriented campaign pitch on behalf of Franken before a gathering of Minnesota Somalis, another speaker appeared before the crowd. Described in the report as a “highly regarded prominent Somali traditional leader” — i.e., a Somali leader from Somalia, not Minnesota — Abdullahi Ugas Farah spoke on behalf of the Ellison-Franken cause. “In order for Keith to be helpful to the situation in Somalia, you must also elect Al Franken to the Senate,” he said.
Now, there’s something new on the American hustings: a “Somali traditional” leader. Curious, I Googled Abdullahi Ugas Farah and came up with one news story, a 2003 brief from the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire headlined, “New Islamic court opens in Mogadishu.” The story reported that Abdullahi Ugas Farah was one of two speakers who presided over the opening ceremony for a new Sharia court in Mogadishu’s Shirkole area.
From Sharia courts in Mogadishu to an Al Franken rally in Minnesota.
MORRISTOWN, Tennessee: The faithful stand and hold their hands high, raising a crescendo of prayer for abundance and grace. In the evangelical church where they are gathered, the folding chairs are filled with immigrants from Latin America.
Balbino López Hernández, who came here illegally from Mexico, closes his eyes to join the hallelujahs. But after the service Mr. López, 28, a factory worker who has been unemployed since June, shares his worries about jobs and immigration raids with other worshipers.
Like many places across the United States, this factory town in eastern Tennessee has been transformed in the last decade by the arrival of Hispanic immigrants, many of whom are in the country illegally. Thousands of workers like Mr. López settled in Morristown, taking low-paying jobs, some hazardous, in chicken plants and furniture factories.
Now, with the economy spiraling downward and a crackdown continuing on illegal immigrants, many of them are learning how uncertain their foothold is in the work force in the United States.
The economic troubles are widening the gap between illegal immigrants and Americans as they navigate the job market. Many Americans who lost jobs are turning to the government’s unemployment safety net, with job assistance and unemployment insurance. But immigrants without legal status, by law, do not have access to it. Instead, as the recession deepens, illegal immigrants who have settled into American towns are receding from community life. They are clinging to low-wage jobs, often working more hours for less money, and taking whatever work they can find, no matter the conditions.
Despite the mounting pressures, many of the illegal immigrants are resisting leaving the country. After years of working here, they say, they have homes and education for their children, while many no longer have a stake to return to in their home countries.
“Most of the things I got are right here,” Mr. López said in English, which he taught himself to speak. “I got my family, my wife, my kids. Everything is here.”
Americans who are struggling for jobs move in a different world. Here, it revolves around the federally financed career center on Andrew Johnson Highway, a one-stop market for unemployment insurance and job retraining.
One worker who frequents the center is Joe D. Goodson Jr., 46, who was laid off more than a year ago from his job at a nearby auto parts plant. Born and raised in Morristown, Mr. Goodson said his savings had run low but his spirits were holding up, so far.
Through the career center, Mr. Goodson enrolled in retraining at a technology college. He believes that the government aid system, though inefficient and overwhelmed, will give him just enough support to survive the economic storm.
“I just try to look on the positive side always,” Mr. Goodson said. “Work hard. Things get bad? Work harder.”
What help there is for illegal immigrants in Morristown comes mainly from churches, like Centro Cristiano Betel Internacional, where Mr. López connects with a word-of-mouth network to find odd jobs.
Nationwide, Hispanic immigrants, both legal and illegal, saw greater job loss in 2008 than did Hispanics born in the United States or black workers, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Nearly half of foreign-born Hispanics are illegal immigrants, according to the center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.
Some illegal immigrants who lost jobs here, mostly workers with families back home, have left the country. Most are determined to stay. Employers, wary of immigration agents, now insist that workers have valid Social Security numbers. Mr. López, who does not have one, said, “Without the number, you are nothing in this country.”
Though he is not a legal resident, Mr. López allowed his name and photograph to be published because his status is known to the immigration authorities.
As the recession worsens here — unemployment in this region was 11.2 percent in January, compared with 8.5 percent nationwide — Americans and immigrants are struggling, separately, to hold on to their gains. To date, tensions over jobs have not surfaced.
Some Americans in tough spots said that the jobs immigrants normally hold were a last resort.
Donnie Parker, 45, was laid off in September from his $14-an-hour job as a skilled machine mechanic at a Koch Foods poultry plant.
Because of a bureaucratic snag, Mr. Parker has not been able to collect unemployment insurance. After paying a mortgage for 13 years, he missed three payments and lost his house in December. He and his teenage son moved in with his 72-year-old mother.
He decided last week to apply for a few minimum-wage factory jobs that were advertised at the center after having avoided them until now.
“I didn’t know it would get this bad and last this long,” Mr. Parker said. “Seven dollars is better than no dollars.”
Even in the recession, he said, it would not make financial sense for him to stay for long in that kind of job. “With my kid, I can’t live on a minimum-wage job,” Mr. Parker said. “There is no goal to reach. You’re pretty much stuck.”
Although Koch has hired more Americans this year for its poultry production lines, Mr. Parker is not thinking of going back there in a low-end job. “It’s nasty and cold,” he said.
Melissa B. Reynolds, the coordinator for the Five Rivers Regional Career Center, said Americans worried about receiving their benefits and getting help finding new jobs, not about competition from immigrants.
“We don’t have anyone that has any beefs with the Latino population that I’ve seen come and go through here,” Ms. Reynolds said.
Demetrios G. Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research center, said that if Americans were forced to take jobs below their expectations for too long, competition — and animus — could increase.
“American people who are hurting economically for a long while may start to identify immigrants as the cause of that pain,” Mr. Papademetriou said.
But Mr. Parker said he did not look to place blame. “It’s not Hispanics I’m competing with,” he said. “It’s everybody. I’m not angry at no one who’s trying to find a job and work. They’re doing the same thing I’m doing.”
MEXICALI, Mexico - Census data from the Mexican government indicate an extraordinary decline in the number of Mexican immigrants going to the United States.
The recently released data show that about 226,000 fewer people emigrated from Mexico to other countries during the year that ended in August 2008 than during the previous year, a decline of 25 percent. All but a very small fraction of emigration, both legal and illegal, from Mexico is to the United States.
Because of surging immigration, the Mexican-born population in the United States has grown steeply year after year since the early 1990s, dipping briefly only after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, census data in both countries show.
Mexican and American researchers say that the current decline, which has also been manifested in a decrease in arrests along the border, is largely a result of Mexicans’ deciding to delay illegal crossings because of the lack of jobs in the ailing American economy.
The trend emerged clearly with the onset of the recession and, demographers say, provides new evidence that illegal immigrants from Mexico, by far the biggest source of unauthorized migration to the United States, are drawn by jobs and respond to a sinking labor market by staying away.
“If jobs are available, people come,” said Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. “If jobs are not available, people don’t come.”
The net outflow of migrants from Mexico - those who left minus those who returned - fell by about half in the year that ended in August 2008 from the preceding year. The figures are based on detailed household interviews conducted quarterly by the census agency in Mexico, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.
Along the border, the signs of the drop-off are subtle but ubiquitous. Only two beds are filled in a shelter here that houses migrants hoping to sneak into the United States. On the American side, near Calexico, Calif., Border Patrol vans return empty to their base after agents comb the desert for illegal crossers.
In recent weeks, the spread of swine flu in Mexico and the government’s response of shutting down schools and canceling public gatherings brought migration here and elsewhere nearly to a halt. But demographers expect the deep flu-related decline to be temporary.
With so many Mexicans remaining in their home villages, the population of illegal immigrants in the United States stopped growing and might have slightly decreased in the last year, an abrupt shift after a decade of yearly influxes, research by demographers in the United States shows. Mexicans account for 32 percent of immigrants in the United States, and more than half of them lack legal status, the Pew center has reported.
Still, at least 11 million illegal immigrants remain in the United States, the demographers say. Despite collapsing job markets in construction and other low-wage work, there has been no exodus among Mexicans living in the United States, the Mexican census figures show. About the same number of migrants - 450,000 - returned to Mexico in 2008 as in 2007.
Some researchers argue that the drop in crossings from Mexico proves that tough law enforcement at the border and in American workplaces can reduce illegal immigration in times of rising unemployment in the United States. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials stepped up factory and community raids last year, and the Border Patrol expanded its force by 17 percent in one year, to nearly 17,500 agents.
“The latest evidence suggests that you can reverse the flow,” said Steven A. Camarota, a demographer at the Center for Immigration Studies, a research group in Washington that calls for reduced immigration. “It is not set in stone, so with some mix of enforcement and the economy, fewer will come and more will go home.”
But Wayne Cornelius, the director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, predicted that if the United States job market revived, border enforcement would become much less of a deterrent.
The center has documented the causes of the decrease in Mexican migration though interviews this year with more than 1,000 Mexicans in California and in a Yucatán village that has been a source of migrants. In the interviews, all of the Mexicans who did set out from Yucatán for the United States reported that they eventually succeeded in crossing.
Mexicans are “not forgoing migration forever,” Professor Cornelius said. “They are hoping that the economy in the United States will improve.”
For now, though, Mexicans like José Luis Z., 16, of the state of Michoacán, are setting the trend. José Luis went to the Albergue del Desierto, a migrant shelter in Mexicali for minor boys, after setting out from home without telling his parents.
But when a job planting trees in Washington State fell through and he heard from migrants of increased patrolling along the border, he decided to head back home.
“I thought it would be easy, but now I see how people suffer,” said José Luis, who asked that his last name be withheld because he was a minor. He said he would go back to picking strawberries in Michoacán, if his furious father did not banish him.
“There is work back home,” José Luis said, “but it doesn’t pay anything.”
The enforcement buildup along the border, which started during the Bush administration, has made many Mexicans think twice about the cost and danger of an illegal trek when no job awaits on the other side, scholars said.
“There is a lack of certainty about jobs, so for the time being it is better to stay home,” said Agustín Escobar Latapí, a sociologist at the Center for Research in Social Anthropology in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Most immigrants now need smugglers to guide them through searing deserts and hidden mountain passes where there are gaps in Border Patrol surveillance. In Mexicali, smugglers’ fees are now $3,000 to $5,000 for a trip to Los Angeles, immigrants and social workers said. They reported that Mexicans’ relatives in the United States, struggling to hold on to their own jobs, no longer had money to lend to a family member to pay a smuggler.
Some here in Mexicali said they were not surprised by the low number of Mexicans coming back from the United States. “Our people are not stupid,” said Mónika Oropeza Rodríguez, the executive director of the Albergue del Desierto. “There may be a crisis in the United States, but they know that we have been in an economic crisis in Mexico for many years.”
Immigration authorities had bad news this week for American Apparel, the T-shirt maker based in downtown Los Angeles: About 1,800 of its employees appeared to be illegal immigrants not authorized to work in the United States.
But in contrast to the high-profile raids that marked the enforcement approach of the Bush administration, no federal agents with criminal warrants stormed the company’s factories and rounded up employees. Instead, the federal immigration agency sent American Apparel a written notice that it faced civil fines and would have to fire any workers confirmed to be unauthorized.
The treatment of American Apparel, which has more than 5,600 factory employees in Los Angeles alone, is the most prominent demonstration of a new strategy by the Obama administration to curb the employment of illegal immigrants by focusing on employers who hire them — and doing so in a less confrontational manner than in years past.
Unlike the approach of the Bush administration, which brought criminal charges in its final two years against many illegal immigrant workers, the new effort makes broader use of fines and other civil sanctions, federal officials said Thursday.
Federal agents will concentrate on businesses employing large numbers of workers suspected of being illegal immigrants, the officials said, and will reserve tough criminal charges mostly for employers who serially hire illegal immigrants and engage in wage and labor violations.
“These actions underscore our commitment to targeting employers that cultivate illegal work forces by knowingly hiring and exploiting illegal workers,” said Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.
On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE, said it had sent notices announcing audits of hiring records, like the one it conducted at American Apparel, to 652 other companies across the country. Officials said they were picking up the pace of such audits, after performing 503 of them in 2008.
The names of other companies that received notices have not been made public. American Apparel became a window into the new enforcement tactics because, as a publicly traded company, it issued a required notice on Wednesday about the hiring audit.
The Obama administration’s new approach, unveiled in April, seems to be moving away from the raids that advocates for immigrants said had split families, disrupted businesses and traumatized communities. But the outcome will still be difficult for illegal workers, who will lose their jobs and could face deportation, the advocates said.
Immigration officials have not made clear how they intend to deal with workers who are unable to prove their legal immigration status in the course of inspections, but they said there was no moratorium on deportations.
Executives at American Apparel were both relieved and dismayed after receiving the warning from the immigration agency of discrepancies in the hiring documents of about one-third of its Los Angeles work force. The company has 30 days to dispute the agency’s claims and give immigrant employees time to prove that they are authorized to work in the United States, immigration officials said. If they cannot, the company must fire them, probably within two months.
But no criminal charges were lodged against the company and no workers have been arrested, American Apparel executives and immigration officials said.
The fines followed discussions over 18 months between federal officials and American Apparel, after immigration agents first inspected the company’s files in January 2008, said Peter Schey, an immigration lawyer representing the company. Mr. Schey said a raid had been averted because the company cooperated with the audit and because immigration agents had not found any labor abuses.
“There is no evidence of any exploitation of workers or violation of labor laws,” he said. “And there is not a single allegation that the company knowingly hired an undocumented worker.”
American Apparel and its outspoken chief executive, Dov Charney, have waged a campaign, emblazoned on T-shirts sold across the country, criticizing the immigration crackdown of recent years and calling on Congress to “Legalize L.A.” by granting legal status to illegal immigrants.
Most garment workers in American Apparel’s huge shop in Los Angeles work directly for the company, not for subcontractors, its records show. They earn at least $10 to $12 an hour, well above minimum wage, and receive health benefits.
At a news conference last year, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles publicly lauded Mr. Charney for helping the city with its faltering economy by providing “the dream of a steady paycheck and good benefits for countless workers.”
While it has been no secret that American Apparel’s largely Latino work force probably included many illegal immigrants, Mr. Schey said the company had been careful to meet legal hiring requirements. Many illegal immigrants use convincingly forged Social Security cards or other fake documents when seeking work.
In a statement, Mr. Charney said that many of his workers cited by the immigration agency were “responsible, hard-working employees” who had been with the company for more than a decade. Mr. Charney, an immigrant from Canada, said he hoped they would be able to prove their legal status. But because of the recession, the company said, it will not be hurt financially if it has to replace them.
Mr. Schey said the hiring audit at American Apparel had been “professionally done.” By contrast, Mr. Schey has brought more than 100 damage claims against the immigration agency on behalf of American citizens who said they were illegally arrested last year in Los Angeles in an immigration raid at a different company, Micro Solutions Enterprises.
Immigration officials, who asked not to be identified because the case is continuing, said the fines to American Apparel so far were about $150,000.
Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency, said it had taken steps to limit negotiations with employers that in the past had resulted in steep reductions in fines the employers ultimately paid.
Representative Brian P. Bilbray, a California Republican who heads an immigration caucus in the House, said the amount of the fines was crucial.
“If this is a truly conscientious effort to get tough with employers to say the days are over of profiteering with illegal immigrants, that’s fine,” said Mr. Bilbray, who opposes any effort to give legal status to illegal immigrants. “But if the fine will be so low that it’s just part of doing business, there’s no deterrent.”
Angelica Salas, the executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, an advocacy group, said she welcomed the end to “showboat enforcement raids.” But in the end, Ms. Salas said, “there is still enforcement of laws that are broken,” adding, “The workers will still lose their jobs.”
Barbara Kay, National Post
On Sunday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney praised a Federal Court ruling denying citizenship to Syrian immigrant Nasoh Raslan. At trial, it was revealed that Mr. Raslan’s Ontario “home” phone number was common to 62 other citizenship applicants, and his mailing address to 126 others.
Mr. Raslan reacted to events with a mixture of repentance and perplexity: “I now know that I definitely did not do the right thing,” he averred in an affidavit, “but at the time, I thought that [applying through another address] was simply a common and small stretch to the rules.”
Mr. Raslan has a right to be confused. Far greater stretches to the immigration rules — if under “rules” we include moral precepts of transparency and integrity —are made all the time, as any candid immigration judge will confirm.
Where do immigrants get the idea that stretching rules is “common” here? Partly from mercenary Canadians such as the “ghost” immigration consultants advertising their expertise on the perfectly legal website quickvisacanada.com.If the boasts put forward therein are even approximately accurate, Nasoh Raslan and his fake address represent the least of Canada’s immigration problems. The first thing you see on the website’s professional-looking home page is the statement: “A cheap, quick and effective way to come to Canada.”
Intrigued? I certainly would be if I were a credulous would-be immigrant eager to avoid a lot of red tape.
The website lays out the steps for coming to Canada “quickly and easily,” including this one: “The next step is to help you find a motive in order to claim refugee in Canada. We will provide you with a listing of different motives so that you can choose the one that best suits you” (emphasis mine — though I will leave in all the various spelling and grammatical mistakes).
Leaving nothing to chance, the company provides motives that have worked for other people: “For example many of our clients choose the type of motives in which they claim that there were part of an organization (anti-abortion, human rights, gay or lesbian movement, etc., etc.) back in their home country and that some people were against that movement. This is just a simple example. Our services are so complete that we will brief you before your departure so that your motive is well documented and well verbalized. We guarantee you that the immigration official will not return you to your country.”
In case the encouragement to be creative with the truth didn’t sink in the first time, it’s repeated again under the Frequently Asked Questions: “When you retain our services we help you find an effective and valid motive. Do not worry. We are experts in this matter.”
To the FAQ question, “I am 75 years old. Can I go to Canada?” they answer: “Of course you can. If you apply for a Skilled Worker visa you will probably be denied du to the age factor but when you claim refugee in Canada, the important point is your motive ... We will make sure that you have a valid motive.”
Another FAQ raises the question of what to do if one’s “motive” is rejected. The answer: “We will guide you with a lot of information so that your refugee claim is gives the impression of being realistic and convincing. You will not have any problem. We have helped more than 1,200 people in the past eight years to claim refugee in Canada and every single person was able to claim refugee without being detained. ... We never leave anyone stranded. That is why we are so famous and that is why so many people hire us to come to Canada.”
You will not find the endorsing logo of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) on quickvisacanada.com or other sites like it, but how is an immigrant to know that he should look for such a stamp of approval? In any case, there’s no downside to the client using ghost consultants (if they have the US$2,250 to pay up front) because claimants are not at present even asked if they have been coached by immigration consultants, let alone whether those consultants are legitimate or not.
Quebec, the only province controlling its own immigration policies, is moving to regulate immigration consultancy and close this loophole, a sensible initiative applauded by the CSIC. The federal government must also become ghost consultant-busters. Then Mr. Kenney may more credibly boast, as he did regarding the Raslan court decision, that his government is working hard “to protect the integrity of Canadian citizenship, particularly from those who would obtain it through fraud.”
MEXICO CITY - Mexico warned its citizens living in or travelling to Arizona that they could be “harassed” there after the state passed one of the toughest immigration laws in the United States last week.
Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into law last week that makes it a crime to be in the state illegally and requires police to check the status of people they reasonably suspect to be illegal immigrants.
The law, decried by critics as discriminatory, will force immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times once it takes effect 90 days after Arizona’s current legislative session ends.
Mexico’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Mexicans in Arizona should be aware of the new law and contact their consular representatives if they are unlawfully detained.
“Until it is clearly defined under what criteria, when, where and who the authorities will check, you should assume that every Mexican citizen could be harassed and questioned without cause at any moment,” it said.
The new law prohibits people from being hired from a vehicle on a public street, the statement noted. Undocumented workers in the United States often gather to wait for employers to drive by and pick them up for day jobs as construction workers, farm workers or landscapers.
An estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants live in the desert state, which also straddles the main point of entry for illegal immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico.
President Barack Obama denounced the Arizona law as misguided and has ordered monitoring of its implementation. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has warned that other states could also bring in tough immigration laws if there is no national comprehensive immigration reform.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said the law criminalizes immigration and opens the door to “intolerance, hate and discrimination.”
To protest against the law, the governor of the Mexican border state of Sonora canceled a June meeting with Arizona officials that would have been the latest in decades of annual co-operation meetings between the two states.
The legislation sparked street protests and has forced hard choices on immigrants, some of whom have lived in Arizona for years.
Most American voters think Arizona was right to pass its own immigration law, and think the Obama administration should wait and see how the new law works rather than try to stop it, according to a Fox News poll released Friday.
The new poll finds 61% of voters nationally think Arizona was right to take action instead of waiting for the federal government to do something on immigration. That’s more than twice as many as the 27% who think securing the border is a federal responsibility and Arizona should have waited for Washington to act.
Most Republicans (77%) and independents (72%) support Arizona taking action. Democrats are divided: 43% think the state was right, while 41% think Arizona should have let the federal government take the lead.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer said Arizona had to act because Washington has failed to stop the stream of illegal immigrants from Mexico. Demonstrators and others opposed to the new law have called on President Obama to stop it from being implemented. The president has said the law is “misguided,” and called on the Justice Department to examine it.
Significantly more voters think the Obama administration should wait and see how the new law works (64%) than think the administration should try to stop it (15%).
To varying degrees, majorities of Democrats (52%), Republicans (77%) and independents (68%) think the White House should see how the law works.
The Arizona law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and requires immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Police officers can ask for that proof of anyone they reasonably suspect is an illegal immigrant.
Nearly half of voters — 45% — say they don’t know enough about the new law to offer an opinion on it. 34% favor it, and 21% oppose it.
Who’s responsible for illegal immigration? By a 60-17% margin, voters think the Mexican government is the one that deserves to be targeted by protests for creating the conditions that make so many of its citizens want to leave, instead of protesting the U.S. government for having tough immigration laws.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from May 4 to May 5. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3%.
Stopping Illegal Immigration
Asked how to deal with illegal immigration, the poll shows large numbers favor using National Guard troops to help border patrol agents (79%), and imposing fines and criminal charges against employers who hire illegal aliens (79%).
60% favor using the U.S. military to stop illegal immigrants at the border. Support for using the military is up slightly from 55% in 2006, although it’s down from a high of 79% in 2002,when memories of the 9/11 attacks were more top of mind.
Just over half of voters — 53% — favor building a wall or fence along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration.
The new poll finds the biggest concern about illegal immigration is the overburdening of government programs. 41% cite the strain on government services — far outdistancing all other concerns. About one in five (19%) says their biggest concern is illegal immigrants taking jobs away from U.S. citizens, while smaller numbers mention an increase in crime (6%) and terrorism (6%).
By a 7% margin, more voters say they think Republicans (42%) would do a better job than Democrats (35%) handling immigration issues. And by a much wider 20 point margin, voters think Republicans (48%) would do a better job than Democrats (28%) on border security.
The issue of immigration falls far behind other top issues on voters’ minds. The economy remains the priority — in fact, the poll finds nearly 10 times as many voters cite the economy (47%) as immigration (5%) as being the most important issue facing the country today.
Editorial pages may rage against the Arizona immigration law, but a solid majority of Americans support it, an IBD/TIPP poll found.
60% back the law, with 40% strongly favoring it, according to preliminary results. Meanwhile, 30% oppose it, with 20% strongly disapproving it. The remaining 10% are unsure.
The responses show a public increasingly frustrated with the response by local, state and federal authorities and welcoming solutions — like Arizona’s law — that would have been politically untenable a few years ago.
“The majority of Americans support the Arizona law, though they may have some concerns about it,” said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducted the poll.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors restrictionist policies, says the poll is not surprising. Border control policies are always popular, he notes.
The law, signed by GOP Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23, lets state and local law enforcement scrutinize a person’s citizenship after a “lawful contact” (arrest or other action).
Similar laws are being proposed for Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas, Maryland and Oklahoma, though they are in preliminary stages.
The poll also found hardened attitudes toward illegal immigrants. Now 49% agree that illegals do jobs that Americans will not do vs. 54% in 2006. Just 33% believe illegals contribute significantly to the economy vs. 44% in 2006.
80% believe employers who knowingly hire illegals should be held accountable, 66% say securing the borders trumps expanding any guest-worker program and 71% think that the borders must be secure before discussing any amnesty for existing illegal immigrants.
“If the public actually did believe the borders were secure ... the public might actually go for an amnesty,” Krikorian said. But the public doesn’t buy border enforcement claims, he adds.
Pro-immigrant groups, civil rights organizations and others have denounced the law as draconian — or worse — and likely to lead to racial profiling of Latinos.
Thousands of Hispanics protested the law on May 1. Latino groups are organizing an Arizona boycott.
The White House has been critical as well. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week the federal government may challenge the law in court.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum and a critic of the Arizona law, disputed that the poll shows broad support for the measure. He says it just reflects public anger over immigration policy in general.
“The country is frustrated over our broken immigration system and Congress’ inability to act. People are looking for a solution,” said Noorani, adding that the solution is to “make taxpayers out of all workers ... get immigrants right with the law and secure our borders.”
But President Obama recently signaled that comprehensive immigration reform is off the agenda this year, noting a wary Congress.
IBD’s survey was based on interviews with 526 people from April 30 to May 3. Polling will continue through Thursday.
One woman is dead and two others were raped recently and police say each crime was committed by a different illegal immigrant. One of the sexual assaults happened just hours before the Seattle city council passed an ordinance boycotting Arizona over its new immigration law.
Gregorio Luna Luna had a history of beating up his live-in girlfriend Griselda Ocampo Meza. He was also in the U.S. illegally. On May 1, Luna Luna was deported to Mexico. Three weeks later Meza was murdered in her apartment in a violent knife attack.
Franklin County prosecutors say Luna Luna slipped past the border again and killed Meza in front of their five year old son. He’s in the county jail awaiting trial.
A suspected rapist in Edmonds, Washington has been deported at least 4 times according to Snohomish County prosecutors. Jose Lopez Madrigal has been charged with raping a woman next to a dumpster behind a Safeway store. A witness to the attack alerted police and Madrigal was taken into custody.
An illegal immigrant just convicted of his possible 3rd strike in Whatcom county- a rape of a homeless woman- has been deported to Mexico five times.
Washington State ranks 11th in the nation in the number of illegal immigrants with an estimated 150,000. They make up 2% of the state’s population, but account for 4.5% of those in Washington prisons. In Franklin county, 14% of the jail bookings are illegal immigrants.
Currently, over half of the individuals on the Washington State Patrol’s Most Wanted List are suspected illegal immigrants. 18 of the 26 on the list are Hispanic with no place of birth identified. Most are wanted for vehicular homicide and they have languished on the Most Wanted list for several years.
There are about 50,000 felony warrants currently issued in Washington State and according to a source in the U.S. Marshall’s office between 30-40% are believed to be illegal immigrants.
We asked the State Patrol about the immigration status of the most wanted suspects and they told us they didn’t know. Officials say that information is not important in trying to locate the individuals.
The U.S. Marshall’s Service disagrees. Leaders of the region’s fugitive task force say knowing immigration status can be very important to an investigation. In fact, the Marshall’s have an office in Mexico to help with cross-border cases.
Last week, the city of Tacoma joined Seattle in admonishing Arizona for its immigration law. While the council did not go so far as passing a boycott, the ordinance does criticize Arizona for its stand against illegal immigration.
Four years after federal officials quietly surrendered thousands of acres of America’s border to Mexican drug gangs and illegals, there still are “no plans to reopen” the taxpayer-owned national park lands.
Roughly 3,500 acres of taxpayer-funded government land in Arizona have been closed to U.S. citizens since 2006 due to safety concerns fueled by drug and human smuggling along the Mexican border, according to a statement posted on the website for the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.
The section of land — about 3% of the 118,000-acre refuge — has been closed since Oct. 6, 2006, when “there was a marked increase in violence along the border due to human and drug trafficking,” according to the statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The closed area extends north from the international border for roughly three-quarters of a mile; a notice of the area’s closure has been posted on the refuge’s website since 2006. The remainder of the refuge remains open to the public for recreational activities.
“At this time there are no plans to reopen this southernmost 3/4-mile portion of the Refuge,” the statement continued. “However, since 2006 the Refuge has experienced a significant decline in violent activity in the area thanks to ongoing cooperation between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
Stretch of Arizona is off limits to Americans because of heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickersSPart of Arizona off limits to AmericansPart of Arizona off limits to Americans
In a statement to FoxNews.com on Thursday, the director of law enforcement for the Bureau of Land Management said the agency takes visitor and employee safety very seriously.
“We have posted these signs to inform visitors to this part of Southern Arizona of the ongoing public safety issues in this area,” William Woody said in a statement. “We are committed to working with everyone engaged with public land management to ensure that all visitors and users have a safe experience on our public lands.”
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told Fox News on Wednesday that violence against law enforcement officers and U.S. citizens has increased in the past four months, further underscoring the need to keep the area off-limits to Americans.
“It’s literally out of control,” Babeu said. “We stood with Senator McCain and literally demanded support for 3,000 soldiers to be deployed to Arizona to get this under control and finally secure our border with Mexico.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have warned visitors in the area to beware of heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickers. In a statement posted at the time of the closure, Mitch Ellis, manager of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, said conditions in the zone reached a point where public use of the area was not prudent.
“The [refuge] has been adversely affected by border-related activities,” Ellis’ statement read. “The international border with Mexico has also become increasingly violent. Assaults on law enforcement officers and violence against migrants have escalated. Violence on the Refuge associated with smugglers and border bandits has been well-documented.”
Security is also a top concern in other parcels of public land in Arizona.
Dennis Godfrey, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management’s Arizona office, said roughly a dozen signs were posted earlier this month along the Sonoran Desert National Monument advising that travel in the area is not recommended due to “active drug and human” smuggling.
“It is a corridor for smugglers of all types,” Godfrey said on Thursday.
The monument, which contains more than 487,000 acres of desert landscape, is roughly 35 miles southwest of Phoenix. Bureau of Land Management officials are encouraging travelers to use public lands north of Interstate 8, which runs from San Diego to Casa Grande, Ariz.
“Visitors may encounter armed criminals and smuggling vehicles travelling at a high rate of speed,” the signs read. “Stay away from trash, clothing, backpacks and abandoned vehicles.”
If Los Angeles wants to boycott Arizona, it had better get used to reading by candlelight.
That’s the message from a member of Arizona’s top government utilities agency, who threw down the gauntlet Tuesday in a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa by threatening to cut off the city’s power supply as retribution.
Gary Pierce, a commissioner on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission, wrote the letter in response to the Los Angeles City Council’s decision last week to boycott the Grand Canyon State — in protest of its immigration law — by suspending official travel there and ending future contracts with state businesses.
Noting that a quarter of Los Angeles’ electricity comes from Arizona power plants, Pierce threatened to pull the plug if the City Council does not reconsider.
“Doggone it — if you’re going to boycott this candy store ... then don’t come in for any of it,” Pierce told FoxNews.com.
In the letter, he ridiculed Villaraigosa for saying that the point of the boycott was to “send a message” by severing the “resources and ties” they share.
“I received your message; please receive mine. As a statewide elected member of the Arizona Corporation Commission overseeing Arizona’s electric and water utilities, I too am keenly aware of the ‘resources and ties’ we share with the city of Los Angeles,” Pierce wrote.
“If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation.”
Appearing to tap into local frustration in Arizona over the raft of boycotts and threatened boycotts from cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Pierce warned that Arizona companies are willing and ready to fight boycott with boycott.
“I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands,” Pierce wrote. “If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.”
Pierce told FoxNews.com that he was speaking for himself, not the entire commission, though he has the support of at least one other member. But Arizona has some serious leverage over Los Angeles, as well as the rest of California. The state and city get electricity from a nuclear power plant outside Phoenix, as well as from coal-fired power plants in northern Arizona and two giant hydroelectric power generators along the Colorado River.
Despite that, the Los Angeles City Council voted overwhelmingly last week to ban future business with Arizona — a decision that could cost Arizona millions of dollars in lost contracts.
Los Angeles officials were furious with the Arizona immigration law passed last month and joined local officials in cities across the country in pushing boycotts to register their dismay. Critics say the law will lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses.
Arizona officials have defended the law, saying the state needed to take its illegal immigration problem into its own hands. Pierce said he’s “supportive” of the state’s efforts to control the border.
The law requires local law enforcement to try to verify the immigration status of anyone they have contact with whom they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. It empowers them to turn over verified illegal immigrants to federal custody. The legislation explicitly prohibits screening people based solely on race or national origin.
Amid the ongoing controversy over Arizona’s new immigration law, voters by a 2-to-1 margin think individual states should have the right to make their own immigration laws. And a majority of voters would like their own state to follow Arizona’s lead.
A Fox News poll finds 65% of American voters think states should have right to make their own immigration laws and protect their borders “if they believe the federal government has failed to act,” while 32% disagree. Moreover, a 52% majority favors their own state passing a bill similar to Arizona’s new immigration law. Some 31% would oppose it and another 18% is unsure.
Those living in the Midwest (56%) and the South (54%) are more likely to favor a law like Arizona’s in their state than those in the West (49%) or the Northeast (45%).
The key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law receive significant support. Over two-thirds (65%) favor allowing local authorities to question anyone who they think may be in the country illegally, while 76% favor allowing local officials to detain anyone who cannot prove their immigration status.
Fully 84% favor requiring people to show documents proving their immigration status, if officials have reasonable cause to ask for them.
Democrats split over states having the right to make their own immigration laws: 45% say they do and 50% disagree. Even though a majority of Democrats favor the individual elements of the Arizona law, by a 17% margin they are more likely to oppose passing a similar law in their state.
Large majorities of Republicans favor the law’s basics, and nearly three-quarters favor (73%) having an immigration law like Arizona’s in their state. Independents favor the law’s provisions and over half would support it in their state.
Arizona’s new law goes into effect at the end of July. Some groups and businesses that disagree with the law have announced they are boycotting trips and business with the state. Over two-thirds of voters — 66% — oppose the boycotts.
President Obama said at a press conference Wednesday with Mexican President Calderon that the United States needs to fix its “broken immigration system” and he supports “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Only about a third of voters — 34% — think the country’s immigration laws need to be overhauled completely. Sixty-one percent think instead the country needs to enforce the existing immigration laws.
Varying majorities of Democrats (51%), Republicans (73%) and independents (61%) think enforcing the country’s current immigration laws is the right course of action.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from May 18 to May 19. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3%.
On immigration in general, more people think immigrants help make the country a better place to live (41%) than think they hurt the country (31%). Another 25% say it depends.
Thirty-one percent think the country should increase the number of legal immigrants allowed to move to the United States, 43% think that number should decrease and 17% would keep it at its current level.
There’s much more agreement on the issue of border security. Most people — 76% — think the current level of security at the country’s borders is not strict enough. Eighteen percent say it’s about right and hardly any — 2% — say “too strict.”
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — who publicly questioned the constitutionality of the Arizona immigration law — recently admitted in Congressional testimony that he hadn’t read the law.
A large 83% majority of Americans voters thinks it is “shocking” for the attorney general — the country’s chief law enforcement official — to question a law he hasn’t read. For 12%, it’s not a big deal.
Overall views of Holder are mixed: 36% of voters approve and 27% disapprove of the job he is doing as attorney general. Nearly 4 in 10 are unable to rate him (37%).
Oil is spewing from beneath a British Petroleum oil rig into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of about 1 million gallons a day. There’s no end in sight — although White House officials have made it clear their goal is to stop the leak before the midterm elections in November.
Obama now spends at least half of every day answering pointed, increasingly aggressive questions about the oil spill, most of them from his daughter Malia.
The president finally went down to take a look at the oil disaster last week –- which is weird because I didn’t even know there were golf courses near the Gulf. To show his concern, Obama is thinking about returning some of the nearly $1 million the oil industry donated to his campaign.
Ha, ha — just kidding. He’s not returning any oil money. But the situation has gotten so urgent that Obama did take time off from his golf game to praise the Phoenix Suns for protesting Arizona’s new immigration law.
He really did endorse the Phoenix Suns, which — like most of his endorsements — has resulted in their being eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers over the weekend. (Did I dream this, or was it just yesterday that President Obama was congratulating Al and Tipper Gore on their long and happy marriage?)
The media have been crowing that Republicans will lose the Hispanic vote forever if they support enforcing laws against illegal immigration, such as the Arizona law. To great fanfare, a poll was released last week showing that 67% of Hispanics oppose the Arizona law.
The headline on that poll should have been: “One-Third of Hispanics Support Arizona Immigration Law Despite Frantic Media Campaign to Convince Them It’s a Racist Plot Against Hispanics.”
Incidentally, 67% of Hispanics also vote Democrat. The exact same percentage of Hispanics who oppose the Arizona law voted for Obama over John McCain — who was championing amnesty for illegals.
Suck up to Hispanics with insane amnesty proposals; get one out of three Hispanic voters. Do the right thing and defend the country’s borders; get one out of three Hispanic voters. ... Promise to make every Tuesday “Ladies’ Night”; get one out of three Hispanic voters. Offer them a choice between “Extra Crispy” and “Original Recipe”; get one out of three Hispanic voters.
Indeed, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday, only 52% of Hispanics oppose the law, while 37% support it. In other words, more Hispanics support the Arizona law (37%) than voted for John McCain (31%) -– which is the strongest argument for amnesty I’ve heard in my entire life.
Overall, 66% of voters support enforcing the border before discussing amnesty. A plurality — 48% to 35% — would like their own states to pass a law just like Arizona’s, despite the strong likelihood that the mainstream media will accuse them of being Nazi police states.
The New York Times’ Linda Greenhouse recently compared the Arizona law to Hitler’s policies toward the Jews. You remember how Jews were constantly sneaking across the border into Nazi Germany?
Finally, in keeping with the White House tradition of only releasing really good news on the Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend, last Friday the White House announced that no one in the administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job to drop out of the Senate primary against Arlen Specter, despite Sestak’s claims to the contrary.
After a 10-week investigation, the Obama White House concluded that Bill Clinton, acting on his own, offered Sestak a nonpaying, advisory job with the administration.
It sounds like something Bill would tell Hillary after sneaking back into the house in the wee hours of the morning. “Honest, honey, I wasn’t out with a tawdry cocktail waitress. I was offering some guy I barely know a job at the Obama White House.”
So yeah, I know it sounds fishy, but if Bill Clinton says this is how it happened, that’s good enough for me. Why, Clinton hasn’t lied under oath in front of a federal grand jury for more than a decade.
Incidentally, why do so many Bill Clinton stories end with the words “nothing improper happened”? As I recall, the definition of “proper” gets pretty elastic when you’re talking about Bill Clinton.
It’s too bad Sestak turned down the offer, because if he had said yes, Obama could claim to have created at least one job, albeit unpaid.
I have mixed feelings about Obama trying to get Sestak out of the way in order to help Arlen Specter. As far as I’m concerned, the only good thing Obama has done so far is to endorse Specter, thus ensuring his defeat.
Maybe Obama should endorse oil spills.
About 3,500 acres of southern Arizona have been closed off to U.S. citizens due to increased violence at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The closed off area includes part of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge that stretches along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told Fox News that violence against law enforcement officers and U.S. citizens has increased in the past four months, forcing officers on an 80 mile stretch of Arizona land north of the Mexico border off-limits to Americans.
The refuge had been adversely affected by the increase in drug smugglers, illegal activity and surveillance, which made it dangerous for Americans to visit.
“The situation in this zone has reached a point where continued public use of the area is not prudent,” said refuge manager Mitch Ellis.
“It’s literally out of control,” said Babeu. “We stood with Senator McCain and literally demanded support for 3,000 soldiers to be deployed to Arizona to get this under control and finally secure our border with Mexico. “
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have warned visitors in Arizona to beware of heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickers.
“We need support from the federal government. It’s their job to secure the border and they haven’t done it,” said Babeu. “In fact, President Obama suspended the construction of the fence and it’s just simply outrageous.”
Signs have been posted warning Americans not to cross into the closed off territory south of Interstate 8. Babeu said the signs are not enough – he said Arizona needs more resources to help scale back the violence caused by the drug cartels.
“We need action. It’s shameful that we, as the most powerful nation on Earth, … can’t even secure our own border and protect our own families.”
Over 220 pastors in state of Texas have drafted and signed a statement expressing their support behind what they believe to be the best balance between justice and compassion in regards to border security and immigration issues.
“In the course of our history as a nation, challenges and crisis moments have arisen that required principled leadership and the laying aside of partisan politics,” the pastors state in the preamble of their Declaration on Border Security and Immigration Reform. “Such is the need before us in our day regarding the escalating illegal immigration crisis and the security of our national borders.”
According to the pastors, it is “clear and evident” that the “crisis” regarding the state of the nation’s border security and immigration system “must be addressed rapidly, justly and humanely with equal regard to both rule of law and God-given value of every individual.”
“Holy Scriptures demand that justice and compassion be balanced with neither improperly dominant over the other in our hearts and our laws,” the pastors say.
Though the immigration issue had faded into the background for many after Congress failed to overhaul the immigration system in 2007, it was revived with the signing of Arizona’s contentious new law, which instructs police to demand proof of a questionable person’s legal status.
More than 20 states are discussing efforts similar to Arizona’s. An Associated Press-GfK poll last month, meanwhile, found that 85% of people now rank immigration as an important issue.
“[T]he majority of people ... demand secure borders, credible enforcement of our current immigration laws by our federal government, reforming the broken immigration system, and humanely addressing those who have entered the country illegally,” argue signers of the pastors’ declaration.
That given, the ministers are calling upon elected state and national leaders to stop their political bickering, engage in genuine dialogue, cooperate with one another, and pledge to resolve the crisis by taking the three steps detailed in their declaration.
The pastors aim to see the national borders first secured, the immigration system then reformed, and a just process to legal status for specified illegal immigrants then implemented.
“We the undersigned pastors declare our commitment to using our voice and influence in every way possible to support these principles,” the pastors conclude in their declaration. “We will also publicly hold accountable those who choose to remain silent, who are divisive for purely political purposes, or who act in opposition to these principles.”
Signers of the declaration so far include over 220 pastors in Texas and around 50 pastors from other states in the nation. Some of the most notable names include megachurch pastors Robert Koke of Shoreline Christian Church in Austin, Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church in Houston, and Kirbyjon Caldwell of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston.
The Arizona Latino Republican Association will become the first Hispanic organization in the country to actively oppose the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the state of Arizona’s new immigration law.
Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch, Inc., said he will be joined by ALRA Chairman Jesse Hernandez and members of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association at an announcement Thursday morning in Phoenix.
ALRA will become the first group of Latino Americans to “put a foot forward legally” in support of S.B. 1070 by filing a motion to intervene against the Justice Department’s lawsuit challenging Arizona’s immigration policy, Klayman said.
“This is a way to tell the country that, ‘Hey, we’re Americans too and we believe in the rule of law,” Klayman told Foxnews.com. “It’s a way to say, ‘We got here legally and we contributed a great deal. We want the rest of the country to recognize that we’re with you’ [in the national immigration debate].”
By filing the motion, Klayman said ALRA will be “in effect, a defendant” in the DOJ lawsuit, which names the state of Arizona as well as Gov. Jan Brewer as defendants. The Justice Department claims the federal government has “preeminent authority” on immigration enforcement and that the Arizona law “disrupts” that balance.
The motion was being finalized as of Tuesday.
“We’re still working on it,” said Klayman, adding that he expects the motion to be filed ahead of a court hearing scheduled for Thursday on the DOJ lawsuit.
Attempts to reach Hernandez were not successful. A message seeking comment from the Department of Justice was not immediately returned.
Arizona’s law, which was passed in April, requires police officers conducting traffic stops or questioning suspects about legal violations to ask about immigration status if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the individuals is in the country illegally. Critics have said the law will lead to racial profiling.
Meanwhile, seven Latin American countries — Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru — are seeking to join Mexico in support of a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s law. The countries have filed separate motions to join Mexico’s legal brief supporting the lawsuit filed by U.S. civil rights and other advocacy groups. A federal judge formally accepted Mexico’s filing, but did not immediately rule on the latest motions filed late last week.
Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Ariz., the youngest member of the state’s legislature, was the only Hispanic to vote in support of Arizona’s new law. As the son of immigrants who came to the U.S. legally, Montenegro became a citizen at age 18 and has repeatedly voiced his support of S.B. 1070.
“America is a not a race,” Montenegro told Fox News. “The United States of America is not the color of your skin, it is the way you think, the way you see life.”
On officially becoming a U.S. citizen, Montenegro said, “When you finally reach that day, you understand that being an American is a responsibility, not just an entitlement.”
I’m confused about immigration.
We libertarians believe in free trade. That includes trade in labor, too. New people bring us not just labor, but also good new ideas. Open immigration during America’s first hundred years helped make America rich.
Open immigration is dangerous today, however, because some immigrants want to murder us. And now that America is a welfare state, some want to come here just to freeload. That great champion of freedom Milton Friedman said Mexican immigration is a good thing — but only so long as it’s illegal. “Why? Because as long as it’s illegal for people to come, they don’t qualify for welfare and Social Security. So they migrate to jobs.”
But closing our eyes to illegal immigration cannot be good policy. So what should American do?
I sat down with Heather MacDonald of the conservative Manhattan Institute, author of “The Immigration Solution,” and Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, author of “Let Them In.” I respect them both. But they radically disagree on immigration policy.
“The case for open borders is a case for letting the law of supply and demand, the free market, determine the level of immigration,” Riley said. “Right now, that determination is being made by politicians and public policy makers. ... And like all exercises in Soviet-style central planning, it’s been a complete disaster. We have thriving markets in document fraud ... and 12 million-plus illegal aliens. ... (W)e would do better to move to a system that allowed the free market to determine the level of immigration. And that’s the case for open borders.” Riley proposes a guest-worker program. “That is the way to reduce illegal immigration.”
Heather MacDonald retorts: “A country is not a firm. And it is absolutely the prerogative of a nation and its people to decide its immigration policy. ... We should have an immigration policy that accentuates our natural economic advantage in the 21st century, which is as a high-tech, high-science economy. ... (T)he overwhelming number of immigrants that are coming in largely illegally are extremely low skilled.”
MacDonald worries that “we’re facing, for the first time in this country’s history ... the first decrease in national literacy and numeracy ... . “
She wants to copy Australia’s and Canada’s policy: “high skills, English language and education. ... We should be looking out for our own economic self-interest.” Riley disagreed with MacDonald’s claim that Mexican immigrants don’t fit America’s modern economy.
“(T)oday’s immigrants coming here are not different in terms of their behavior patterns, in terms of their assimilation levels. They are simply newer.”
“Immigrants increase crime!” is another charge hurled at illegals, but the data don’t bear that out. There has been a surge in immigration over recent years, but crime has been dropping. Crime has dropped in the border areas of Arizona and California, too.
MacDonald said crime was high during immigration surges in the 1970s and ‘80s, and attributed the recent drop to higher incarceration rates. But Riley noted, “Incarceration reports from the Justice Department ... show that the native-born are five times more likely than the immigrant population to be arrested and incarcerated ... .”
But if today’s illegals are not eligible for welfare, less likely to commit crimes and eager to work, why are people in the border states so ticked off?
“Why wouldn’t they be?” Riley said. “It’s chaos down there. There’s trespassing. There are people breaking the law. We’re a nation of laws. It’s out of control. The question is how to fix it. And I don’t think sealing off the border is the best way to fix it. I think regulating the flow is the best way to fix it.”
It would be easier to “regulate the flow” if America made it easier for people to work here legally. State Department data show that a British Ph.D. in bioengineering must wait about six months to get a green card. A South African computer programmer, six years. An Indian computer programmer, 35 years.
A Mexican with a high school diploma must wait a theoretical 131 years! No wonder people sneak into America.
Black markets make problems worse. America should let more people come here legally.
While opponents of Arizona’s strict immigration law are claiming victory in a federal ruling Wednesday that blocked most of the crackdown hours before its enactment, there’s still plenty left in the state legislation that supporters are cheering.
As the case is litigated, Arizona will be able to block state officials from so-called “sanctuary city” policies limiting enforcement of federal law; require that state officials work with federal officials on illegal immigration; allow civil suits over sanctuary cities; and to make it a crime to pick up day laborers.
“We have a big problem with day laborers standing on the street disrupting traffic, disrupting communities, scaring people, and that part of the law withstood constitutionality,” Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh told Fox News. “We’ll be able to clean up that mess.”
Kavanagh also praised the other sections of the law that were not blocked.
“I think it is a powerful deterrent effect and this is not going to be settled for years,” he said. “So while we might not have as strong a deterrent as we had yesterday, it is still something for illegals to think about when they are looking for places to go.”
State Senator Russell Pearce, the law’s chief author, said he likes that the state will be able enforce a provision that bars local governments from limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws.
“Striking down these sanctuary city policies has always been the No. 1 priority,” Pearce said.
Pearce said that part of Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling removes what he calls “political handcuffs” from law enforcement officers whose superiors put restraints on their enforcement of immigration laws.
The remaining provisions, many of them procedural and revisions to an Arizona immigration statute, will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Still, many supporters were not pleased that the judge blocked the most controversial sections of the law. The partial injunction prevents Arizona from requiring police officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest. It also strikes down the provision making it a crime not to carry immigration registration papers and the provision that makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek or perform work.
“We are deeply disappointed that she views that the enforcement of law would impose a burden on the federal government,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Fox News. “The federal government is supposed to carry out its responsibilities of securing our borders. It’s really disappointing.”
“I think key provisions have been removed. Let’s be honest about it,” he said. “But also, the upshot of this is we gotta get the border secured. … Rather than wasting their time on all of this court stuff, all they had to do was give us the assets necessary to get our borders secured.”
U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, R-Ariz., said the ruling should not give Washington any kind of excuse not to address immigration.
“There are no victors today, except those who want to use this protracted litigation as a means to grandstand and score political points, instead of actually rolling up their sleeves and getting to work to help fix the problem,” he said in a written statement.”
“I believe that if the new state law spurs Washington to act, then it is a good thing,” he said. “But make no mistake: neither the state law, nor the lawsuit to overturn it – nor today’s temporary injunction – will fix the problem, secure our border, or fix a broken immigration system.”
To Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told KTAR.com that the ruling is not a “defeat by any means.”
“We will still do what we have been doing for the past three years,” he said in response to the ruling. “On employer sanction state law, on human smuggling state law,” he said.
But the decision was seen as a defeat for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who is running for another term in November and has seen her political fortunes rise because of the law’s popularity among conservatives.
She has vowed to take the case “all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”
But her opponent, state Attorney General Terry Goddard, pounced.
“Jan Brewer played politics with immigration, and she lost,” the Democrat said. “It is time to look beyond election-year grandstanding and begin to repair the damage to Arizona’s image and economy.”
Arizona immigration law decision:
I. What is enjoined
1. Requiring verification of immigration status: Requiring that an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States, and requiring verification of the immigration status of any person arrested prior to releasing that person.
Reasoning: Pre-empted by federal law because it creates an additional burden on the federal government by increasing the number of immigration-verification requests to the federal government.
2. Failure to carry immigration papers: Creating a crime for the failure to apply for or carry alien registration papers.
Reasoning: Pre-empted as an impermissible attempt to create its own state immigration scheme by altering the penalties established by Congress under the federal registration scheme.
3. Illegal for an illegal to solicit work: Creating a crime for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for or perform work.
Reasoning: Pre-empted because there is a comprehensive federal scheme regulating employment of illegal immigrants.
4. Warrantless arrest for potentially removable alien: Authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.
Reasoning: Pre-empted because determining whether a specific offense makes an alien removable is a tough decision and there is “a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens,” thus impermissibly burdening legal aliens (and only the federal government can impose such burdens)
II. What is not enjoined?
1. No sanctuary cities: Prohibiting Arizona officials, agencies and political subdivisions from limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws.
2. Requiring cooperation with federal authorities: Requiring that state officials work with federal officials with regard to unlawfully present aliens.
3. Permitting civil suits for sanctuary cities: Allowing legal residents to sue any state official, agency or political subdivision for adopting a policy of restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.
4. Human smuggling crimes: Amending the crime of human smuggling.
5. Crime to pick up day laborers: Creating a crime for stopping a motor vehicle to pick up day laborers and for day laborers to get in a motor vehicle if it impedes the normal movement of traffic.
6. Knowing/intentional employment of illegal immigrants: Amending the crime of knowing employment of unauthorized aliens. Amending the crime of intentional employment of unauthorized aliens.
7. Employee verification: Amending the requirements for checking employment eligibility.
8. Funding for gang / immigrant enforcement: Creating the gang and immigration intelligence team enforcement mission fund.
Democrats act as if the right to run across the border when you’re 8 1/2 months pregnant, give birth in a U.S. hospital and then immediately start collecting welfare was exactly what our forebears had in mind, a sacred constitutional right, as old as the 14th Amendment itself.
The louder liberals talk about some ancient constitutional right, the surer you should be that it was invented in the last few decades.
In fact, this alleged right derives only from a footnote slyly slipped into a Supreme Court opinion by Justice Brennan in 1982. You might say it snuck in when no one was looking, and now we have to let it stay.
The 14th Amendment was added after the Civil War in order to overrule the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which had held that black slaves were not citizens of the United States. The precise purpose of the amendment was to stop sleazy Southern states from denying citizenship rights to newly freed slaves — many of whom had roots in this country longer than a lot of white people.
The amendment guaranteed that freed slaves would have all the privileges of citizenship by providing: “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.”
The drafters of the 14th amendment had no intention of conferring citizenship on the children of aliens who happened to be born in the U.S. (For my younger readers, back in those days, people cleaned their own houses and raised their own kids.)
Inasmuch as America was not the massive welfare state operating as a magnet for malingerers, frauds and cheats that it is today, it’s amazing the drafters even considered the amendment’s effect on the children of aliens.
But they did.
The very author of the citizenship clause, Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan, expressly said: “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.”
In the 1884 case Elk v. Wilkins, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment did not even confer citizenship on Indians — because they were subject to tribal jurisdiction, not U.S. jurisdiction.
For a hundred years, that was how it stood, with only one case adding the caveat that children born to legal permanent residents of the U.S., gainfully employed, and who were not employed by a foreign government would also be deemed citizens under the 14th Amendment. (United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 1898.)
And then, out of the blue in 1982, Justice Brennan slipped a footnote into his 5-4 opinion in Plyler v. Doe, asserting that “no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment ‘jurisdiction’ can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful.” (Other than the part about one being lawful and the other not.)
Brennan’s authority for this lunatic statement was that it appeared in a 1912 book written by Clement L. Bouve. (Yes, the Clement L. Bouve — the one you’ve heard so much about over the years.) Bouve was not a senator, not an elected official, certainly not a judge — just some guy who wrote a book.
So on one hand we have the history, the objective, the author’s intent and 100 years of history of the 14th Amendment, which says that the 14th Amendment does not confer citizenship on children born to illegal immigrants.
On the other hand, we have a random outburst by some guy named Clement — who, I’m guessing, was too cheap to hire an American housekeeper.
Any half-wit, including Clement L. Bouve, could conjure up a raft of such “plausible distinction(s)” before breakfast. Among them: Legal immigrants have been checked for subversive ties, contagious diseases, and have some qualification to be here other than “lives within walking distance.”
But most important, Americans have a right to decide, as the people of other countries do, who becomes a citizen.
Combine Justice Brennan’s footnote with America’s ludicrously generous welfare policies, and you end up with a bankrupt country.
Consider the story of one family of illegal immigrants described in the Spring 2005 Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons:
“Cristobal Silverio came illegally from Oxtotilan, Mexico, in 1997 and brought his wife Felipa, plus three children aged 19, 12 and 8. Felipa ... gave birth to a new daughter, her anchor baby, named Flor. Flor was premature, spent three months in the neonatal incubator, and cost San Joaquin Hospital more than $300,000. Meanwhile, (Felipa’s 19-year-old daughter) Lourdes plus her illegal alien husband produced their own anchor baby, Esmeralda. Grandma Felipa created a second anchor baby, Cristian. ... The two Silverio anchor babies generate $1,000 per month in public welfare funding. Flor gets $600 per month for asthma. Healthy Cristian gets $400. Cristobal and Felipa last year earned $18,000 picking fruit. Flor and Cristian were paid $12,000 for being anchor babies.”
In the Silverios’ munificent new hometown of Stockton, Calif., 70% of the 2,300 babies born in 2003 in the San Joaquin General Hospital were anchor babies. As of this month, Stockton is $23 million in the hole.
It’s bad enough to be governed by 5-4 decisions written by liberal judicial activists. In the case of “anchor babies,” America is being governed by Brennan’s 1982 footnote.
As discussion over whether to end birthright citizenship intensifies, a new study of Census Bureau data reveals that 8% of children born in the United States in 2008 were parented by illegal immigrants.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of polling organization Pew Research Center, finds that, of the 4.3 million babies born in 2008, roughly 340,000 were born to undocumented aliens. This is double the percentage of illegal immigrants in the U.S., owing in part to the fact that the illegal immigrant population is largely comprised of men and women at birthing age.
In addition, high birthrates among undocumented aliens give that population a similar share of children in the U.S. The study finds that children born to illegal immigrants account for 7% of the total population of people under the age of 18, or 5.1 million children. Four million, or 79%, of those children were born in the United States, making them U.S. citizens.
This analysis comes amid calls from some GOP members to consider ending birthright citizenship, the right enshrined in the 14th Amendment, that persons born in the United States are citizens of the country and the state in which they reside. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” this week that terminating the practice is an idea “worth considering.”
Ending or revising the guarantee of birthright citizenship, Boehner said, may eliminate a major motivation for many immigrants to cross the border unlawfully. “There is a problem. To provide an incentive for illegal immigrants to come here so that their children can be U.S. citizens does, in fact, draw more people to our country,” Boehner said. “I do think that it’s time for us to secure our borders and enforce the law and allow this conversation about the 14th Amendment to continue.”
Critics of the idea claim that the guarantee their children will be U.S. citizens is not great enough of an incentive for parents to immigrate illegally, since they would have to wait 21 years for their children to be old enough to sponsor their parents for citizenship. Additionally, such a change would require a Constitutional amendment, which two-thirds of Congress would have to approve before state legislatures consider the measure, and three-quarters of those must agree to the provision for it to become part of the Constitution. A bill that calls for such a change—the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009—has been stalled in the House since April 2009.
Meanwhile, nearly half of respondents in a new poll support a Constitutional amendment ending automatic birthright citizenship. In a CNN/Opinion Research poll released today, 49% of respondents said they would favor a Constitutional amendment to limit a guarantee of citizenship to children whose parents are citizens.
“I never thought that we’d be in this paramilitary type of engagement. It’s a war on the border,” said Captain Stacy Holland with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Holland leads a fleet of 16 state-of-the-art helicopters that make up the aviation assets used by the Texas DPS to fight Mexican drug cartels.
In recent years, the cartels have become bolder and more ruthless.
They cross the border with AK-47s on their backs, wearing military camouflage. They recruit in prisons and schools on the American side. Spotters sit in duck blinds along the Rio Grande and call out the positions of the U.S. Border Patrol.
To combat the cartels, the Texas Department of Public Safety is launching a counterinsurgency.
Tactical strike teams send field intelligence they gather to Austin to a joint operation intelligence center, or JOIC in military terminology.
“It certainly is a war in a sense that we’re doing what we can to protect Texans and the rest of the nation from clearly a threat that has emerged over the last several years,” said Former FBI prosecutor Steve McCraw, who runs the undeclared “war.”
And now that there is added pressure on the cartels, the drug runners are employing new techniques, known as a splash down. When the heat is on, they attempt to return to Mexico with the drugs, often times in broad daylight. And because the Texas law enforcement’s authority ends at the border — in this case the river — they even have time to put on their life jackets.
“The cartels may be ruthless, they may be vicious, they may be cowardly ... but they’re not stupid,” said McCraw. “They’ll adapt their tactics and recently they’ve adapted their tactics to utilize smaller loads, cross with rafts, stolen vehicles on our side.”
President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have recently said the Mexican border is more secure now than it has been in 20 years, but some along this border strongly disagree.
“To suggest the southwest border is secure is ridiculous,” said Holland.
Immigrants to Canada cost the federal government as much as $23-billion annually and “impose a huge fiscal burden on Canadian taxpayers,” according to a think-tank report released Tuesday that was immediately criticized as telling only part of the story.
The Fraser Institute report (download the PDF here or see it below) says newcomers pay about half as much in income taxes as other Canadians but absorb nearly the same value of government services, costing taxpayers roughly $6,051 per immigrant and amounting to a total annual cost of somewhere between $16.3-billion and $23.6-billion.
“It’s in the interest of Canada to examine what causes this and to fix it,” said Herbert Grubel, co-author of the report Immigration and the Canadian Welfare State. “We need a better selection process … We’re not here, as a country, to do charity for the rest of the world.”
The report acknowledges there are “popular propositions” about the benefits of immigration: Young immigrants pay taxes that support social services for Canada’s aging population; immigrants fill the low-paying jobs that others do not seem to want; Canadians are ennobled by allowing people to share in the country’s economic riches; immigration enriches the cultural life of Canadians, and future generations end up repaying their parents’ debt by earning an average or above-average living in the long run.
Mr. Grubel and economic consultant Patrick Grady argue, however, that these benefits either do not hold up to close scrutiny or that they are simply not worth the economic cost.
The 62-page report used a 2006 Census database to estimate the average incomes and taxes paid by immigrants who arrived in Canada over the period from 1987 to 2004. It found that immigrants paid an average of $10,340 in income tax and other taxes, compared with the $16,501 paid by all Canadians. While newcomers each received $110 less than the rest of Canadians, the “net fiscal transfer per immigrant” still amounted to $6,051 annually. The study examined the incomes of adults exclusively, and assumed the average immigrant pays taxes and receives benefits for 45 years.
“I’m sure the data behind the numbers is sound, but I think it only tells half the story,” said Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the Dominion Institute and author of Who We Are: A Citizen’s Manifesto. “The fact is that we’re doing immigration on the cheap … We don’t spend enough money on language services, and we don’t do enough skills accreditation and training.”
He said he is sympathetic to the argument that family reunification is likely burdensome on the tax purse, but said it’s just a “drop in the bucket” given that those visas account for only 11,000 of the 250,000 or so newcomers expected this year.
“The trickier issue is that of the quarter of a million, only about 60,000 are skilled or professional workers,” he said. “Everyone else is dependents.”
Mr. Grubel, himself an immigrant who first migrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1956 “with nothing,” maintains that he is not anti-immigration but rather that he believes immigrants should “pay their way in the welfare state.”
He and Mr. Grady argue that the selection process should be revamped to focus on admitting skilled workers who have job offers with Canadian employers. Recent newcomers should also have to post a bond to cover payments for health-care and social services before their parents and grandparents are admitted as landed immigrants.
Douglas Cannon, a prominent B.C.-based immigration lawyer, said he understands the benefit of the cost calculation, but said it is impossible to attach a price-tag to the benefits of welcoming newcomers.
“Immigration is, in the end, about people and their futures, their dreams, their hopes — how can you put a dollar amount on that?” he said. “It’s about continuing to make Canada a place of opportunity.”
This was not Mr. Grubel’s foray into calculating the cost of Canada’s immigration policies. In 2005, the Fraser Institute released his study that pegged the 2002 cost at $18-billion, but he said this latest report is more “scientifically rigorous and less liable to attack.”
The new Fraser Institute report says Canada should revamp its immigration selection process. Here are some of its recommendations:
- Only those with a legitimate offer from a Canadian employer should be allowed to obtain a temporary work visa. All other grounds for granting immigrant visas should be discontinued, except those applicable to refugee claimants.
- The government should exclude all applicants likely to become a burden on the public health care system.
- The government should set up and supervise a privately run system for the collection of information about the residence and work status of those holding temporary work visas.
- Within one month of arriving in Canada, work-visa holders should be required to register with the enforcement agency and provide contact information.
- Employers of temporary workers must notify authorities when a foreign worker is laid off or has failed to show up for work.
- Work-visa holders who lose their jobs must find new employment within three months or leave Canada, unless their spouse is employed under the family-work visa provision.
- Immigrants may have their parents and grandparents join them as landed immigrants in Canada only after posting a bond to cover payments for health care and other social benefits.
Evangelical Christian children of immigrants feel they cannot openly practise their religion, and worry that Christianity is no longer a guiding force in Canadian society, while Muslims say they are free to follow their faith in this country —but face other forms of discrimination.
Those are some of the findings of new research that will be presented on Sunday at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Fredericton, the largest multi-disciplinary academic gathering in Canada.
“I was a little bit surprised by the degree to which Christians feel put upon. The Religulous message is getting across, and it’s not a good message,” said Peter Beyer, a professor of religious studies at the University of Ottawa, referring to the 2008 Bill Maher film that cast a critical eye on organized religion.
“They feel like there’s prejudice against religious people: ‘I can’t pull out my Bible, I can’t talk about my religion without getting shot down. I don’t even mention it for fear of getting a bad reaction.’ “
His study gathered insights from about 350 second-generation Canadians aged 18 to 30 through 36 focus groups in Sydney, N.S., Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Each focus group drew together young adults with common religious backgrounds, and many Christians expressed the worry that Christianity is no longer a dominant force in Canadian society, Prof. Beyer said.
On the other hand, Muslims attributed the discrimination they felt to racial or cultural prejudices rather than religious issues, saying they felt they could follow their faith unfettered in Canada.
“They feel that they’re perfectly free to practise Islam here in Canada, unlike some of the Christians who feel that their ability to practise their religion is restricted in this country,” Prof. Beyer said. “But they did feel Islamophobia.”
The qualitative study reveals some of the complex fault lines in Canadian society.
Young adults from across religious and cultural lines agreed that Muslims have faced discrimination since 9/11, but non-Muslims also said there should be limits on religious freedom and expressed concerns that Muslims “could be a problem,” Prof. Beyer said.
In terms of Canadian identity and culture, many children of immigrants could not define it, denied its existence or pinned it on the fuzzy notion of multiculturalism. But second-generation Canadians in Quebec had a strong sense of the province’s unique identity —to the point that some identified as sovereigntists.
“They all had to do with the fact that there is a Québécois culture and a sense of nationhood and something you can attach yourself to,” Prof. Beyer said. “Whereas in the rest of Canada, we asked them ‘What’s a Canadian?’ and we got a lot of answers, such as, ‘Who knows?’ One group said there is no such thing as Canadian culture.”
Second-generation Canadians are both optimistic and critical of the concept of multiculturalism in Canada, he said. They believe integrating and learning from each other could be a hugely positive experience that too often turns into immigrant communities living in “silos” side by side -and they blame their immigrant parents, not the rest of society, for that.
“One of the myths that’s very much alive in Canada is that the United States is worse on every score,” he said. “The idea that we live in a mosaic and they live in a melting pot, in spite of the fact that it’s not true as far as the evidence shows —that’s certainly believed by a lot of people.”
Prof. Beyer will present his work Sunday at the Congress, which is jointly hosted this year by the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University and expected to draw more than 6,000 delegates to Fredericton.