In the 2004 presidential election, why is it that the leading candidates failed to bring up the topic of our immigration policies? With all of the nasty debate over terrorism, healthcare, the Social Security System, and other major issues, immigration was the proverbial “hot potato” that no one wanted to mention even in whispered tones.
Americans have always been somewhat neutral about immigration. Most Americans have a very favorable image of the Statue of Liberty, erected in 1886. The inscription on the statue proclaims the famous quote, “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We have had low points in the immigration debate when at one time Congress enacted the first immigration restrictions, specifically excluding “paupers, ex-convicts, mental defectives and Chinese.” That was at the beginning of the greatest wave of immigration in American history, which brought in 18 million new citizens, diversified U.S. society and gave us the lifelong view of America as the “melting pot” of diverse races and cultures.
But let us not forget one undeniable fact – unless you are 100% native American Indian, your ancestors were immigrants to this country.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, there has not been the slightest hint of immigration belt tightening. In 2003 and 2004, Congress passed the Aliens Act, the Aliens Registration Act and the Nationality Act. These acts provide legal protection, add to immigration management, and provide more flexibility in making decisions regarding an employee’s work permit issues. Reduction of immigration quotas and restriction of Middle Eastern men apparently has not been considered. The majority of Americans were very upset that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) had no idea where many of the people on visas were located or whether they had overstayed their visit. Naturally, playing the same old song, the INS claimed they have insufficient budget and personnel to control the immigration problem. It could never be that they just are not doing their job, could it?
Because of extra scrutiny placed on visas, many foreign students have been unable to return for classes at prestigious American universities. Foreign enrollment is down 3% in the $13 billion education market; so careful visa scrutiny is a double-edged sword. One of the reasons for extra scrutiny on foreign students is because many apply for visas and then disappear into the underground upon arrival.
America is in the midst of another significant wave of immigration, with nearly one million new residents this year. Most of these new immigrants are from Latin America and Asia. Why won’t the Republicans or Democrats take a firm stand on eliminating or at least tightening immigration until the war on terrorism is over? If current immigration trends continue, the nation’s population will be over 400 million by the year 2050. Most Americans would prefer that legal immigration be reduced. In fact, almost 60% of Americans would like to see immigration limited to 300,000 people per year.
Some Americans argue that the total of both legal and illegal immigration represents less than one-half of one percent of the total population, and that a country as wealthy as America should have no trouble absorbing that small number.
The farmers in the southwest are totally reliant on the cheap Mexican labor to pick the fruits and vegetables for miniscule wages. Various estimates suggest that illegal immigration accounts for between 400,000 and 500,000 people per year, although with the Summer influx of illegal Mexican immigrants, that number may be as high as 3 to 4 million. You don’t think an American would stoop so low as to perform that sort of menial task especially when Uncle Sap will pay them more to sit on their ass then they could make by actually doing a day’s work, do you? Although we have been hoodwinked with lots of press about the increase in the Border Patrol and billions of dollars being spent on a number of mini “Great Wall of China” containments and new computer systems to safeguard us, no one really wants to stop the transient immigration. The farmers would go out of business. In the past 10 years, we tripled the number of border agents and quadrupled their budget with little change.
In April 2005, the Pew Hispanic Center reported that the nation’s undocumented immigrant population rose to 10.3 million last year. Obviously people are fed up with the inaction of the government. In Arizona, hundreds of volunteer citizens have banded together as the “Minutemen” (borrowing their name from the Revolutionary War patriots) for a one-month experiment to patrol the border with Mexico. It is estimated that their efforts, which are decried by both the Border Patrol and Washington, have so far cut the number of Mexican migrants in southeast Arizona in half. It will be interesting to watch where this experiment leads.
Over 85% of Americans agree that illegal immigration is a “serious” problem and over 50% agree that it is a “very serious” problem. The majority of Americans want illegal immigration stopped while almost two-thirds want to find and deport all of the illegal immigrants now in the country. Not only do these people take menial jobs, they place a costly burden on the nation’s healthcare system.
Americans are divided on the benefits of immigration, with many saying that immigrants have caused major problems in their town or neighborhood.
However, the Republicans and Democrats don’t want any change in this policy. Legal and illegal immigrants provide a ready source of labor for the farmers, as domestic servants for the horsy set, and immigrants are happy with jobs most Americans would consider too demeaning. Democrats too like the idea of placing immigrants on welfare to buy their vote for the future. Studies have estimated that immigrants put over $100 billion in the pockets of the wealthy, since they can pay lower wages. However, let us not forget, both the wealthy and middle classes will foot the bill for highways, schools and police departments to support the additional population.
In April 2005, the Pew Hispanic Center reported that the nation’s undocumented immigrant population rose to 10.3 million last year. Obviously people are fed up with the inaction of the government. In Arizona, hundreds of volunteer citizens have banded together as the “Minutemen” (borrowing their name from the Revolutionary War patriots) for a one-month experiment to patrol the border with Mexico. It is estimated that their efforts, which are decried by both the Border Patrol and Washington, have cut the number of Mexican migrants in southeast Arizona in half.
Its farcical the way in which we place extreme security emphasis on our airports to avoid the problems with terrorists hijacking planes, again. We have pairs of National Guardsmen strolling through airports I assume to protect passengers in the event 20 terrorists come running into an airport with AK-47s blazing. What a waste of personnel and money just to placate the American public – this is a very unreal scenario! These people are not stupid. Terrorists will find a different way of perpetrating terrorist acts such as a placing a small H-Bomb onboard a ship or they will simply slip in over the Mexican border by paying a Coyote to lead them into New Mexico carrying an A-bomb in a suitcase. Our border with Mexico is an international joke. Estimates vary but somewhere between 2 and 10 million illegal aliens from Mexico, Honduras and other Central America countries flow back and forth across the border in a given year. Make no mistake – if this country wanted to suppress illegal immigration, we could do it in a New York minute, but the Republicans would lose the farm vote in the next election. Instead of fighting this losing battle, President Bush wants to amend immigration quotas in line with realistic economic needs of the country. He will push his plan to register and provide rights to illegal aliens, so in theory they can be tracked. Once these temporary immigrant workers have a way to legally enter this country for seasonal work, much of the underground economy will disappear making it far easier for the Border Patrol to do their job.
Critics of our immigration policies point out that three of the 19 hijackers on September 11th had expired visas, while the other 16 hijackers freely roamed the country even though their actions should have at least raised serious suspicions. Two of the hijackers were on the U. S. government “Watch List” of terrorism. I don’t want to hear some people’s complaints that placing extra scrutiny on Middle Eastern men would have been labeled “racial profiling.” When you are at war, anyone with an IQ over that of a baboon would not hesitate for a moment to focus on young male Muslim immigrants as a potential source of terrorism within our borders. Racial profiling? I like it, especially when it comes down to saving American lives. I would also not hesitate for an iota to place extra scrutiny on a Columbian national arriving from Bogotá as a possible drug smuggler.
One of the major impetuses for the new wave of immigration has its roots in the Immigration Act of 1965, which placed special emphasis on reuniting families, granting asylum to refugees, and to favor immigrants with special job skills (especially in Information Technology). Since the new law was passed, more that one-half of the immigrants come from Asia and Mexico. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996 restricted benefits for illegal immigrants, doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, and increased the income requirements for sponsors of immigrants. Since that time, some restrictions have been lifted with disability benefits and food stamps being restored to immigrants who were present before 1996. Virtually all states permit immigrants to receive Medicaid benefits after a 5-year waiting period and to be eligible for welfare. Remember, regardless of your attitude on immigrations, your Federal and state taxes support these people.
In 1993, the Commission on Immigration Reform offered a recommendation that immigration be reduced to 550,000 per year, in addition to humanitarian refugees. More importantly, the commission recommended that those admitted under the Immigration Act of 1965 be limited to spouses and young children instead of siblings and adult children of previous immigrants.
Proponents of reducing or eliminating immigration cite that their goal is to reduce the number of both legal and illegal immigrants stress that they are not attempting to reduce the influence of a particular culture (such as Mexicans) but simply trying to reduce the volume of people. Liberal-minded people argue that immigration offers suppressed peoples an escape from often-tyrannical governments.
In Los Angeles in the 1990s, because of the influx of massive numbers of illegal aliens, the janitorial unions saw much of their work dissipated to nonunion illegal aliens.
According to studies paid for by the Ford Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation:
What are other countries doing about immigration, especially when coupled with the fear of admitting radical Muslim men into their society? The 25-member European Union (Common Market), which has recently experienced episodes of Muslim terrorism, has re-evaluated their own policies due to murders in Spain (train bombing) and the Netherlands.
A significant backlash is evolving in these supposedly enlightened countries against certain Muslim practices. For example, in France, women have been banned from wearing headscarves in public institutions. In the Netherlands it is estimated that 500,000 Turkish and Moroccan immigrants do not speak the local language. In a number of countries, new immigrants will be required to learn the local language and “European values.”
Solutions to the immigration problem range from:
If you are extremely concerned about terrorism, and you believe that eliminating or restricting immigration is the solution, then that solution will require an increase in the budget for the INS and Border Patrol. You must be willing to accept higher taxes over and above the hefty increases already authorized to accomplish this goal.
If you believe that America is the last salvation for many suppressed peoples, then you likely will want no change in policies.
It would seem that the prudent solution is to 1) enact a cap on legal immigration as a percentage of the population, say 1/10th of 1%, which would be 290,000 immigrants at the current rate, and 2) issue guest worker cards in the southwest to support our farmers. This would enable the INS to more easily track both immigrants and visas, reassign manpower to carefully track potential terrorists, and reduce the burden on public services.
Police and the INS will also be able to randomly check on the farmers to make sure they are employing only “green cards” or guest workers. If illegal immigrants are found, heavy fines and even jail time can be imposed for these violations.