Demand Real Solutions on Illegal Immigration
|Congress and the Bush Administration are way behind the curve on illegal immigration relative to the desires of the American people. It is time for some serious solutions.|
The Scale of the Problem
America's illegal immigrant population grew by more than 500,000 last year and is now approaching 12 million. The flow from Mexico, which arrives predominantly by sneaking across the southwest border, has far outgrown that of any country, numbering about 6.2 million. About 2.5 million more are from the rest of Latin America, predominantly the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The remaining quarter is from nearly every other corner of the world, dominated by South and East Asia.
How Americans See It
A Quinnipiac University poll finds 88 percent of all poll respondents believe illegal immigration is a serious problem. "Red state, blue state and purple state voters agree: Illegal immigration is a serious problem.",said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
By 62 percent to 32 percent, voters oppose making it easier for undocumented immigrants to become citizens. And it said that by 72 percent to 25 percent, U.S. voters oppose giving undocumented immigrants driver's licenses. Nearly 40% of voters want the current levels of legal immigration reduced. By 84 percent to 14 percent, they favor requiring proof of legal residency to obtain government benefits.
What Needs to be Done
First, we need to get control of the borders. The goal should be zero illegal entries into this country. All other considerations for changes in immigration policy such as guest worker programs should be contingent on halting inflow first. Without border control, they are meaningless band aids that will make the situation worse.
Second, we need to deal with the 12 million illegals already in the country. Strong penalties should be imposed on employers for having illegals on the payroll. So called “safe haven” policies of municipalities must be abolished. INS funding should be dramatically increased to enforce laws already in place which are being ignored.
Third, after these measures are in place and functioning, a guest worker program should be instituted that is not a path to citizenship or permanent residency. Legal immigration processes should be improved for that purpose.
Demand Effective Legislation
We need to hold politicians feet to the fire on the issue, with particular attention to the Senate which is currently in the process of drafting legislation. This is not the time for "feel good" legislation that actually does nothing. The Kennedy-McCain bill is softball fluff that will not solve the problem, as is Sen. Arlen Specter's bill that includes a guest-worker program. Liberals will be doing everything possible to gut any provisions of a bill that that might actually work. Hillary Clinton has already been using terms like "police state" for enforcement proposals.
We should have learned that enforcement needs to be the highest priority from the past “amnesty” programs, which contributed to getting us into this mess. Until we have an enforcement program that has proved to be working, we should not tolerate measures that just increase the numbers of illegals.
There will be a significant cost associated with accomplishing these goals, but they will be more than offset by the savings over what we are now paying. The estimated net cost of illegal immigration ranges between 130 billion to 400 billion annually. An effective approach to illegal immigration is critical to our economy and our security.