May 25, 2007

Immigration Policy (Part 1 of 2): Border Security

“Those gentlemen, who will be elected senators, will fix themselves in the federal town, and become citizens of that town more than of your state.” –George Mason

E pluribus unum? Out of many, one? That national motto, as proposed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1776, is often cited as speaking to the “great melting pot” of American immigration. But our Founders were not referring to immigrants. Rather, they were referring to the 13 colonies uniting as one.

In truth, there was very little “diversity” among our Founders. The four major migrations preceding 1775 were from the British Isles, with the notable exception of forced migration – better known as slavery. The uniformity of our heritage was, in fact, a major factor in the successful upstart of what is now the world’s longest-surviving republican democracy.

The Federalist Papers, the most comprehensive explication and defense of our Constitution, written by our Constitution’s author, James Madison, and Founders Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, affirms the accuracy of this claim in the second of its 85 essays, “Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence.”

In that essay, John Jay writes: “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people – a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”

From 1675 to 1950, the vast majority of U.S. immigrants were English speaking and enjoyed similar heritage and customs, with the exception of some seven million Germans, Italians and Scandinavians who immigrated to the U.S. prior to 1930.

This is not to say that there isn’t room for ethnic and cultural diversity in America. It is to say that unless those who come here are fully integrated, rather than set apart as hyphenated-Americans, our United States will disunite.

After World War II, however, Latino immigrants began an illegal migration across our southern border. Between 1960 and 1990, that migration accelerated, and since 1990, the influx of illegal immigrants has reached critical mass.

All this brings us to the latest Senate attempt at so-called “immigration reform,” a 1,000-page tome called the “Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007,” which took off like a lead balloon. Democrats were pushing for passage of this monster only days after its release, but as Fred Thompson noted, “That’s like trying to eat an eight-course meal on a 15-minute lunch break,” so Senate debate will now extend into June.

The “compromise legislation,” which is the most comprehensive immigration legislation in 40 years, provides amnesty for between 12 and 20 million illegal aliens, giving them, and their families, a permanently renewable “temporary” work permit called a “Z” visa. Put another way, it grants these illegals probationary status and allows them to move toward citizenship. Those who apply for the visas will have to pass a background check and pay a $5,000 fine for entering the U.S. illegally (which can be paid over eight years), but no back taxes. Would that the folks at the IRS were so charitable to the rest of us.

This bitter pill was given a very thin sugar coating of promises, such as hiring 6,000 additional border patrol agents, constructing an additional 370 miles of border barriers, and establishing a computer identification database which will, ostensibly, enable employers to verify the legal status of new employees. Once those benchmarks have been accomplished, additional foreign nationals would be allowed to enter the nation at an arbitrary rate of 200,000 per year, on guest-worker permits.

This asinine legislation will be no more effective than the last “comprehensive” reform attempts – the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and its predecessor, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act – because like the previous legislation, the current version does not start by securing our borders.

Conservative estimates are that every day, about 3,200 illegal aliens (more than 96,000 of them each month) cross from Mexico into the U.S.

Any debate about immigration is useless unless it begins with a commitment to secure our borders. Moreover, as Ronald Reagan declared, “A nation without borders is not a nation.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a longtime advocate of border security first, notes: “If we have border enforcement, we will be able at that point to start to regulate the internal problem. As long as you’ve got a revolving door – a 2,000-mile porous border, there is no way to regulate immigration. We need to build the border fence. We need to have a Border Patrol which is big enough to get the job done, and we need to demand [that those who] want to come into America, knock on the front door, because the back door is going to be closed.”

Of the 700 miles of border fencing Congress authorized last year, a grand total of two – yes two – miles have been completed.

But let’s just say, hypothetically, that Democrats and Republicans actually get serious about illegal immigration and work to close the border. Next, they will have to determine what to do about the millions of illegal immigrants already here. It is argued that the “round ‘em up and send 'em back” solution to illegal immigration, is not an option. Indeed, that would be very difficult given the fact that millions of illegal immigrants have been in the U.S. more than a decade, and most are very socio-economically integrated. Few elected officials at the federal and state level have the political will to undertake another mass roundup and deportation.

However, it is worth noting that Dwight Eisenhower did just that in 1954, when he launched “Operation Wetback.”

At that time, illegal immigration across the Mexican border has swelled the illegal population to almost three million. Ike cut off this traffic with a decisive policy and only about 1000 Border Patrol agents – fewer than a tenth of the force now on our border – in an operation praise by veteran agents to this day.

According to a 1954 New York Times article on illegal immigration, “The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican 'wetbacks’ to a current rate of more than 1,000,000 cases a year has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards extending all the way from the farmer-exploiters of this contraband labor to the highest levels of the Federal Government.”

Sound familiar?

In June of 1954, Ike launched “Operation Wetback,” and in three months, agents arrested almost 150,000 illegals and sent them back deep into Mexico. Consequently, another another 1.5 million illegals left the U.S. “voluntarily,” which is to say that when enforcement got serious, illegals got the message.

Of course, the economic benefit case for retaining a large pool of unskilled agricultural and service industry laborers is countered by the economic burden such laborers put on American taxpayers. Additionally, illegal immigrants competing for low-wage jobs compete directly with Democrat constituencies for those jobs, thus undermining their “living wage” argument.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the nation’s premier think tank, The Heritage Foundation, estimates, “This $2.5 trillion cost is going to come smashing into the Social Security and Medicare systems at exactly the point those systems are already going bankrupt. So the bottom line is that these individuals will make no net contribution in taxes while they are working. They will be a deficit. But when they hit retirement, they will be an astonishing cost on the taxpayer.” Rector warns that the Congressional Budget Office is providing only a 10-year estimate of costs, “but on year 15, it starts to cost a fortune. On year 30, it will bankrupt the Social Security system. It is a disaster, it’s a sham, and it’s a deception.”

Rector notes that of the estimated 4.5 million households of low-skill immigrants who pay taxes now, for every dollar paid in, those households receive an average of three dollars in taxpayer-funded services.

Responding to the firestorm over the Senate’s proposal, co-sponsor Ted Kennedy rebuts, “We hope that the voices of hatred and bigotry will silence themselves for this debate.” Here, we can only assume that Kennedy is talking about “haters and bigots” such as his Democrat colleagues Dick Durbin, Barbara Boxer, Byron Dorgan, Ben Nelson and Robert Byrd, all of whom have voiced objections to Kennedy’s legislation. (In particular, the moniker fits Byrd, a former Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan now heralded by his colleagues as the “conscience of the Senate,” who once proclaimed, “I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”)

If Kennedy and his ilk want to find out if Americans outside the Beltway want their “immigration compromise,” they should set up a toll-free number asking callers to press one for “bury it” and two for “pass it.” Of course, the Senate’s switchboard would probably greet callers as follows: “For English, press one. Para espanol tocas dos.”

Fred Thompson concludes, “There’s an old saying in Washington that, in dealing with any tough issue, half the politicians hope that citizens don’t understand it while the other half fear that people actually do. … A nation without secure borders will not long be a sovereign nation. No matter how much lipstick Washington tries to slap onto this legislative pig, it’s not going to win any beauty contests.”

Newt Gingrich adds, “This is the most self-destructive bill for Republicans to be sponsoring that I have seen, maybe in my lifetime. You can’t imagine how bad this bill is going to be by the time people understand all of its details and how foolish its sponsors are going to look, at least on the Republican side, where there is some semblance of a belief of the rule of law…”

Far be it from me, though, to offer up all this criticism without serving up a solution.

As I outlined last year in an essay entitled “Insanity on bordering,” immigration legislation must first address national security issues, meaning border security and enforcement are paramount.

Only after the establishment of functional border security can a legitimate immigration debate take place.

At that point, immigration legislation must authorize and fund these priorities: enforcement of current immigration laws; immediate detention and deportation of those crossing our borders illegally; deportation of any foreign national convicted of a serious crime or seditious activity; a guest-worker program (with reliable documentation as a prerequisite) to meet the current demand for unskilled labor; penalties against employers who hire undocumented workers; no extension of blanket amnesty or fast-track citizenship (new citizenship applicants go to the back of the line); the preservation and provision of tax-subsidized medical, educational and social services for American citizens and immigrants here legally; and the Americanization of new legal immigrants, including an end to bilingual education and a national mandate for English as our nation’s official language.

Additionally, the Supreme Court must affirm that there is no constitutional birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. The 14th Amendment’s relevant clause reads “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Children born to those who have entered the U.S. illegally are not “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

If immigration policy does not start at the border, our national heritage will end there. Please support the national campaign to [stop the compromise | https://secure.PatriotPost.US/support/alert.asp?a=1] and secure our borders.

(Read Part Two of this series, “Subject to the jurisdiction therof”?)

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