America's (un)welcome mat
By Lady Liberty
In recent days, the issue of illegal immigration has seriously heated up both in the corridors of Washington, DC and on the streets of Los Angeles and New York. It seems that almost everybody has an agenda.
President Bush wants Congress to approve a "guest worker" program which some say is really an amnesty program. The latter is likely the reason behind the fact that his 2004 proposal is still not approved by Congress. The president says our economy depends on the work done by illegal immigrants, so we may as well legalize their presence here and know who and where they are. He also indicated during his original announcement of his idea that he thinks legal immigration quotas are just plain too low.
Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and John McCain (RINO-AZ) have now joined together to write legislation that echoes some of the President's ideas. Critics say the bill would offer amnesty to millions of illegal aliens already in the country. The Senators say it would do no such thing because illegal aliens would have to pay a fine and apply for citizenship. In a proposal intended to compete with the Kennedy-McCain legislation, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has gone against a president who is a member of his own party, but with the majority of Americans with a focus more on border security and much less on amnesty (a general overview of both proposals is available online).
The House of Representatives has already passed immigration reform legislation. The House version of reform doesn't include amnesty, and it takes border security so seriously that it does include a significant length of fencing along with an increase in the Border Patrol and heavy fines for those hiring illegal workers. Many in the House, including strong immigration reform proponent Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) have criticized both the president's ideas as well as virtually all plans the Senate is considering. At the very least, no matter what the Senate does will almost certainly result in an entertaining time for members of a conference committee assigned to reconcile House and Senate versions of reform given what one news report calls a "chasm" between the two plans!
While the Senate argues and the House watches, the President traveled south of the border for a meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox (a representative of the Canadian government was there as well, but a meeting not focused on immigration matters has become much focused on immigration matters, meaning no one is focusing on the Canadians at all at the moment). In one news story from the scene, we're told that President Bush has assured President Fox that there will be a guest worker program included in immigration reform. In another, issued on the same day, the President solemnly says that Congress is in charge of deciding what to include in its reform package (which it is, but that's not what the President intimated when he made promises to Fox).
Meanwhile, members of the House are giving speeches to the public, members of the Senate are giving speeches to each other, and President Bush is speaking with President Fox as large crowds of illegal immigrants are marching in some of our bigger cities. Los Angeles authorities estimate hundreds of thousands marched there; a week later, massive crowds did the same in New York. Those rallying in Chicago were apparently loud enough about it that local authorities there have already announced they won't enforce any new immigration laws there (although to be fair, the authorities in Chicago don't care about the Second or Fourth Amendments, so it's not a great surprise they'd also deny the Constitution).
The protesters don't want immigration reform. If any changes are to be made at all, they'd appreciate it if immigration restrictions were substantially loosened instead of tightened . In fact, some don't think there should be any restrictions at all. Some even suggest that the rest of us should leave the country to them since, they say, it was theirs in the first place and it's us who are here illegally. Meanwhile, most Americans oppose amnesty and some have started to worry that these marches will get out of hand (widely syndicated columnist Devvy Kidd has gone so far as to suggest states start gathering up and training their militias — which sounds extreme until you actually read the entire column containing the suggestion).
Many illegal aliens say they're sneaking across the border to enjoy the better life that America offers. There are some Americans who buy that explanation is not only being true (which in many cases it is), but as legitimizing the crime committed as well (which, if it did, would also excuse my robbing a bank because if I had more money I'd have a better life — also probably true, but still not an excuse). Illegal is illegal. But there's another complication beyond the mere fact that our borders remain relatively porous: two-thirds of the children of illegal aliens were born in the United States. Deporting Mommy isn't going to endear any authorities to anybody else anywhere, and there's little politicians are more concerned with than "endearment," especially to voters.
Even those who favor the most liberal immigration policies (those who are unsurprisingly typically the most liberal themselves) can't deny that most Americans aren't keen on amnesty or unfettered immigration. Perhaps that has something to do with a recent Department of Justice release that offered up some good-sized numbers on crimes committed by illegal aliens. Maybe its a study that turns previously "conventional" wisdom on its head where jobs are concerned by showing the presence of illegal aliens hurts American workers. But it might also be a growing antipathy for illegal immigrants who arrive outside the law, and who then make demands on their chosen country.
Those who are arguing in favor of amnesty as well as larger legal immigrant quotas like to point out that this country was built on the backs of immigrants, that without immigrants, the United States would be far less than it is. They're right. But they're neglecting to consider something that I suspect is the real reason behind the poll numbers, and that's the difference between immigrants today and immigrants of the past.
Not so very long ago, immigrants worked hard to earn passage to America. When they arrived, they followed all of the proper procedures to become citizens. Then they worked hard some more. They earn money so they could buy better lives for their families. They worked to educate themselves. They worked to learn English. In a nutshell, they wanted to be Americans so they worked to become Americans. They didn't discard their own traditions, but they adopted American ones as their own, and both sides of the equation were the richer for it.
Immigrants today are too often of an entirely different mind set. They want to enjoy the advantages they can get in the United States, but they want to remain Mexican (although this is likely true with some of those of other nationalities, I think it's entirely fair to say that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are Mexican). They want us to learn to speak Spanish rather than learning to speak English themselves. They want to collect welfare benefits. They even want to carry Mexican flags in marches organized to demand they be allowed to stay in America. They are in the active and vocal process of destroying that which they profess they want for themselves.
Of course, there are also some very real crime issues, here. And at a minimum, there should certainly be some concern for those who openly flout the law — from illegal immigrants and those who help them get here to those who hire them and facilitate their stay and their lifestyles. But the bottom line is that larger issue is so large as to encompass the entirety of the country both within its borders and its foundations.
If borders are porous, terrorists can get in as easily as other illegal aliens. If driver's licenses are given to illegal aliens, so is an ID that permits criminals and terrorists to move freely. If banks offer mortgages to illegal aliens, what other kind of loans will they provide and for what purpose will the funds be used? If people will break the law to get here, and break the law to stay here, how can we pretend they'll not break other laws up to and including the execution of terrorist acts? The answer is, quite simply, we can't. And since we can't, we mustn't offer easy immigration to those who want to come here nor amnesty for those who've circumvented the law to get here.
There are plenty of immigration reform proposals to choose from. But the only one I'm willing to support is the one that secures our borders once and for all; which refuses to reward wrongdoing; and that demands a little respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The President has said that having an un welcoming attitude toward immigrants is un-American. But it's lumping illegal aliens into the same category as legal aliens that's threatening our national sovereignty and national security alike, and I'd call that the most un-American of all.
Lady Liberty, a senior writer for ESR, is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!