I am a Mexican American citizen of the United States. My family has been here for more than 200 years. My current extended family is multi-ethnic, Brown, White and Black. As a youngster I was a member of a migrant farm worker family, therefore I have had a different perspective on the illegal alien problem than most Americans. When I think about the illegal aliens, I say to myself, "There but for the grace of God go I." The major differences are that all members of my family were citizens and my father insisted that we all learn to speak English without an accent.
I have been subject to some degree of discrimination off and on since that earlier time as a migrant worker. I have succeeded in spite of or, perhaps, even because of those experiences. I quite naturally seek a way for others of my original culture to succeed in bettering the lives of their families. This is especially true with regard to those illegals who have been here for five or more years, not only through their own initiative but often as a result of employer culpability.
I have been at odds with other citizens who, for good and substantial reasons, would prefer to see all illegals repatriated as quickly as possible. Although logistically feasible, no one in the mainstream of intellectual thought regarding illegal aliens believes that mass deportation is the answer. This is especially true if that implies some massive overnight roundup and transport of the aliens back to their homelands without regard to the consequences. Loyal Americans know that any repatriation effort would have to be implemented gradually and systematically over many years with due regard for the special circumstances of the long time residents who have made every effort to assimilate, learn English and adapt to American culture and ideals. These are people who have children in school learning English and civics. They want to be Americans in every sense of the word, as opposed to aliens living in America benefiting economically but showing no real interest in abandoning their previous culture, citizenship, and allegiance. I fully agree with that general approach.
I understand the concerns of other citizens regarding the undeniable threat the millions of new immigrants and unassimilated illegals represent to the English language, American culture and ideals. Assimilation is foundering because of the sheer numbers and concentration of illegals in California, Texas, Arizona, Illinois and New Mexico. Modern communications and transportation systems allow immigrants and aliens to remain in touch with their homelands and their relatives in ways that were simply not possible for most during the earlier waves of immigration.
Most of those who oppose the kind of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) considered and rejected by the Congress in 2006 and 2007 have an important and valid basis for doing so. That basis includes the rule of law, which is undeniably the foundation of all civilized societies, national security, national sovereignty, and the national interest. It is intellectually dishonest for anyone to denigrate or criticize these well-founded and time-honored concepts. They form a powerful and cogent basis for opposing the mass legalization of illegal aliens or the granting of amnesty without a requirement that they return to compliance with the law as it existed at the time of their violation of the border or when their visas were issued. Americans are fully capable of learning and understanding these concepts through reading, research, education, and careful intellectual inquiry and independent thought. They have no need or desire to be spoon fed pre-packaged ideas from the left or the right or prompting from others. As a hyphenated American, I am in no position to patronize loyal citizens of this great country or to impugn their intelligence or knowledge which in most cases is equal or superior to my own.
I have participated in many discussions related to CIR. The first issue that always comes up is the question of amnesty. I have said a number of times that once we have amnesty as prescribed in the various CIR bills, the only people entering our country will be legal immigrants, tourists, students, and perhaps some temporary migrant workers. That statement suggests that I have not properly studied the result of the 1986 amnesty which is one of the primary causes of the present problem. The one or two million illegal aliens forgiven in the 1986 bill prompted 12 million more to violate our borders with the full expectation that eventually there would be another amnesty. And they were right. The CIR bills introduced in 2006 and 2007 proposed exactly that. Politicians went out of their way to try to obfuscate the issue by imposing some minor penalties so they could say, "This is not amnesty. These illegals will have to learn English, pay a fine and pay back taxes before they can be considered for a pathway to citizenship." It is true that if any penalty is imposed, even if it is just a slap on the wrist, technically speaking, that is not amnesty. However, people quickly saw through this charade. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) headlined an article about this with the phrase, "Amnesty by any other name…".
The proponents of the 2006 and 2007 immigration reform measures insisted that what they proposed was not amnesty. Because of the failure of the 1986 amnesty bill to stem the tide of illegal aliens, the demagogues in Congress and elsewhere knew that the word "amnesty" would inflame the public . But regardless of the technical or legal definition, the common understanding of the word "amnesty" in this context is any legislation that allows illegals to remain and work in the U.S. instead of returning to their homelands. Some definitions of amnesty suggest that a condition of the government's general pardon of prior offenses is the presumption that the offenders will return to compliance with the law as it existed at the time of their offense, an admonition of "go ye and sin no more", as it were. In other words, the government absolves, without penalty, the prior actions of the offender but requires him to return to his homeland and remain there until he can re-enter legally. I understand all of these arguments about what is and what is not amnesty. I am less concerned about what word is used to describe the government's forgiveness than I am about it actual provisions and conditions and their enforceability.
In addition to a general amnesty, the various CIR proposals have provisions relating to border security, an increase in the number of legal immigrants and temporary workers, new categories of visas, and simplified immigration procedures. It has been my conviction that these provisions would eliminate the immgration backlog making it possible for those who have been violating our borders to apply for legal entry thus eliminating the problem of illegal aliens. In retrospect, this was and is an extremely naive position. An analogy would be to legalize all crimes so that we no longer have to worry about all of the criminals in our midst. The Mexicans just across the border who wish to enter our country are not going to wait very long for their applications to be approved before they decide the old way was better and quicker. I now believe that both sweeping the problem under the carpet with amnesty and loosening immigration policies are dead wrong. This approach ignores all of the reasons for stabilizing our population. It would assure that our population would balloon to 1.3-1.5 billion people by the end of this century. The Census Bureau would have to revise its estimate upward by a substantial amount to account for the flood of new immigrants, chain immigrations, amnestied illegals, and their higher fertility rates resulting in more anchor babies. These results of CIR are not acceptable to me.
In recent years, public concern about illegal immigration has often focused on the costs associated with illegal aliens’ use of public benefits and the extent to which these benefits serve as an incentive for immigration. In1996, the Congress took steps to address these concerns through welfare and immigration reform legislation. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193) further restricted the limited access of illegal aliens to federal public benefits and limited their access to state and local public benefits. However, even if that law limited the access of illegal aliens, it had no impact on the eligibility of children born in the U.S. of illegal parents. As instant birthright citizens, these children are immediately eligible for all applicable forms of public-financed welfare. The typically larger families of these illegals therefore result in significant costs to U.S. taxpayers. These costs are in addition to the costs of education and emergency medical care that are mandated by law. The legitimacy of these concerns about costs is unquestionable and I cannot downplay or denigrate their importance.
My support of illegals places me in an awkward position vis à vis those who see my advocacy for illegal aliens as an act of disloyalty. Their concerns are underlined by the actions of the foreign countries that facilitate the illegals’ penetration of our borders. I understand that aiding and abetting illegals can be seen as one form of disloyalty to our country. As an American citizen, I am uncomfortable in the role of a defender of foreign nationals who have violated our borders. I believe, therefore, that it is incumbent upon me to travel a much greater distance than my fellow citizens in search of a compromise. It is not their obligation to give up all of their heartfelt and well-justified concerns about the welfare of our country under the onslaught of millions of illegal aliens. It is I who must justify support of the interests of foreign nationals.
In the past, some have proposed subjecting all illegals to an employment test that would establish irrefutably which of the jobs they hold could be filled with citizen labor if employers offered a living wage and a hiring preference to them. An additional proposal was offered which would require employers to offer the same wages and benefits to foreign workers as they do to American workers, and not vice versa. This would require some sort of local union sign off. As an American citizen I am uncomfortable in the role of defending foreign nationals who have violated our borders but believe there are many extenuating circumstances which would warrant special consideration for those illegals who can pass the employment test as well as a background check and health exam. If they also have children in American schools making good progress toward learning English and understanding civics and American culture and ideals, that additional fact could be weighed in favor of allowing them to stay. Those proposals offer a basis for compromise that all supporters of illegal aliens should carefully consider.
I have often criticized my fellow Americans for opposing the mass legalization of illegal aliens. They, in turn, criticize me for defending that proposal and other measures under the umbrella of comprehensive immigration reform. But our situations are totally different. I wish to aid and abet illegal aliens while my fellow Americans want them to return to their homelands until they can enter legally with the proper documents. I realize now that there is no reasonable basis for equating the two positions. They are right and, to a large degree, I am wrong. I have been too heavily conditioned and influenced by my ethnicity and my background. I have not fully accepted the responsibilities of citizenship and the criteria by which loyalty is judged. Although none challenge my right to free speech, neither do they defend me when the exercise of that right suggests disloyalty, treason or sedition, nor should they. I have made my bed and I must sleep in it.
It sometimes seems that my fellow citizens choose not to recall the history of immigration into our country but I know it is intellectually dishonest of me to take that position. We have discussed at length our country’s long and checkered history of legal and illegal immigration. For example, we learned that Italian illegals were called WOPs because they arrived without papers. Many loyal citizens are the first or second generation descendents of immigrants and the product of their tumultuous assimilation and conversion into Americans rather than hyphenated Americans. They know firsthand about our immigrant past but they understand that the operative word is the word “past”.
I have too often ignored some other historical facts about our country. First of all, in the early days of the colonies and later the republic, a vast largely unsettled continent lay before the founding fathers and their successors. Natural resources like land, water, timber, fish and game appeared to be limitless. Now more than 200 years later, every one realized that is not the case. The domestic production of petroleum has been in decline since the 1970s. Thirsty cities are buying up water rights to serve their burgeoning populations leaving former ranch and farm lands without the water they need to grow the food to serve those additional people. Aquifers, like the Ogallala Aquifer, are being drawn down faster than they can be replenished and will soon be exhausted. As Tom Letheby put it in the 4/30/06 Denver Post, “We are left with yet another illustration of an all too common American mindset: short on vision, mired in denial and unable to comprehend nature’s limits.”
I confess that I have falsely accused my fellow Americans of failing to understand: (1) the enormity of the impact of repatriations on the illegal families and our economy, (2) the costs associated with mass deportation, and (3) the inhumanity of such an effort. I now understand that none of the mainstream pro-America advocates really believe in overnight mass deportation because it would be unfair to those illegals who have assimilated and become model, English-speaking neighbors and friends, and because it would be unnecessarily disruptive of our economy. Nevertheless, I realize that the logistic feasibility of mass deportation has already been demonstrated.
Following World War II, using only the remnants of a transportation system decimated by the war, eight million ethnic Germans were deported from the Eastern Provinces and regions in less than a year. It is no secret that many of them perished enroute because they were forced to leave in the dead of winter with little food or clothing for warmth. No one wishes to take that kind of draconian approach. Therefore, it is not appropriate for me to talk about mass deportation as the solution to the illegal alien problem most pro-America advocates favor.
If approached in a systematic way, the costs of transporting illegals to borders would not be large. I have to admit that they paid their way here and that they are better off now than they were then. Therefore, they could certainly defray much of the cost of the return journey. Any difference should be made up by employers and relatives, not the U.S. government.
This leaves my accusation of inhumanity remaining to be discussed. There is an honest difference of opinion about what constitutes inhumanity and what does not. Both sides are opposed to family separations. The pro-illegals use that as a rationale for allowing all illegal aliens to remain here and achieve a pathway to citizenship while the pro-America movement would require parents under deportation orders to take their minor children with them or be charged with child abuse. Modern communications and transportation systems enable repatriated families to remain in touch with adult relatives authorized to stay in the U.S.. Minor children accompanying their deported parents would be no worse off than their parents were when they arrived in a foreign land with little knowledge of English. The children probably would have a good command of the mother tongue of their parents’ country of origin and thus would not be handicapped linguistically in the way their parents were when they violated the border.
Another dimension of this issue of inhumanity is whether any form of detention of illegals is necessarily inhumane. This goes back to the fundamental question of whether a nation has a right to enforce its laws and to use whatever reasonable procedures might be necessary to ensure that such enforcement is effective. The former catch-and-release policy for illegal aliens, whether apprehended at the border or in the heartland of
America, constituted a complete abandonment of internal enforcement and border security. I know that those who are turned loose simply disappear. Even those who are detained and eventually removed often return within 24 hours. These are facts not opinions so even I, as an advocate for the illegals, must accept that humane detention is essential to an effective program of border and internal security. My proper humanitarian role is to insist on the fair treatment of these detainees while their cases are being adjudicated. However, I recognize that detention is not fundamentally inhumane.
The intellectual underpinnings of the pro-America, pro-legal, pro-reduced immigration, pro-stable population movement are not dependent on any so-called pre-packaged arguments provided by any of those who I have characterized as the titular leaders of the movement. I realize now it was and is an insult to suggest otherwise. The foundation of the pro-America movement is the logical product of study and research. In fact, this movement seems to be the only one that has had the courage and the intellectual capacity to think about and discuss the long term impacts of a continuation of present policies. I have to recognize that, from many perspectives, the version of immigration reform I (and other organizations and individuals who aid and abet the illegals in their defiance of the law) advocate would be an unmitigated disaster for America from a long term perspective. It is an objective truth that if the Latin American culture and economies were so superior, there would not be a significant illegal alien problem. I tend to malign the terms: national sovereignty, national interest and rule of law even though I have the intellectual capacity to comprehend their significance for the survival of our republic. If I wish to be effective in promoting a reasonable compromise on the principles that should govern all aspects of immigration, I must develop a better understanding of those maligned terms and stop treating them as though they have no significant or legitimacy. I must show those imbued with the conventional concept of loyalty to their country that I have the obligation to move the greater distance to achieve compromise. The rule of law, the national interest and national sovereignty aren't empty concepts that I or anyone else should criticize.
If I say I am in favor of secure borders then I must be willing to provide the tools necessary to achieve that goal, recognizing that internal enforcement is an essential element of border security. I cannot continue to say I am in favor of border security knowing full well that, by definition, I’m not if I continue to oppose most of the measures and tools that would be effective in achieving that goal. Most agree that a fence alone will not stop illegals from entering our country. However, where the fence has been erected, it has worked to reduce the illegal traffic. But more is needed and even I realize that. Infrastructure and staffing improvements at the border, must be buttressed with a change in the rules of engagement and vigorous internal enforcement based on a mandatory E-verification system for all employees and the establishment of a “no fly list” for illegals identified through that process. These are the essential elements of effective border security. I cannot claim to be in favor of border security without endorsing these changes and improvements. IN the absence of that endorsement I know my position in favor of secure borders will not be credible.
In some jurisdictions, the authorities have been accused of racial profiling. Of course, they deny this since it is more or less illegal but it is clear that they are applying a principle called Pareto's Rule. This principle, also called the 80-20 Rule , indicates that 80 percent of the problems stem from only 20 percent of the various causes. In the context of illegal aliens, this rule suggests that if efforts are properly focused, 80% of the desired results can be obtained with the investment of only 20% of the available resources. Quite literally, this means if one looks for illegal aliens primarily within the Latino population wherever it is found, the results to be expected from the application of a given amount of resources will be optimized. Or to put it another way 80% of the results can be obtained with the application of just the first 20% of the authorities resources. In a word this means racial profiling is the most effective way to attack this problem.
I quite naturally seek a way to end racial profiling. However, I fully recognize that until we get control of our borders some measures that would otherwise be unacceptable may be necessary, at least in the short term. I hope that these measures willo be applied with a velvet glove rather than a mailed fist and that all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, will cooperate with the authorities so that these extraordinary measures can be discontinued as soon as possible. In the meantime, our best approach is to support fully the measures necessary to solve the problem. I understand that if we do otherwise, we will be wasting the taxpayers' money on measures that will not produce the desired results.
The staffing improvements at the border may require the deployment of National Guard troops with full authority to apprehend and detain illegals. The changes in the rules of engagement should permit the hot pursuit of drug and human traffickers and the detention for up to six months of those apprehended in the immediate environs of the border or in the interior before they are fingerprinted, photographed, DNAed and deported. During that period they should be required to work on border infrastructure at minimum wage. I realize that if employers are to be punished as I have often advocated, E-verification is the essential tool for identifying the miscreants. An limited period of temporary amnesty from the full six months of detention could be granted those illegals identified through that process if they quickly and voluntarily self-deport.
I have also been in a persistent state of denial regarding the crimes committed by illegal aliens and their progeny. While I feel it may be inappropriate to lump birthright citizens with their parents in this regard, still I have to admit that they would not be here except for the illegal conduct of their parents. The primary responsibility rests with the illegals. However, the formal or informal sanctuary status of many of our cities suggests that local governments are also culpable. If they were to direct their law enforcement units to check the legal status of all of the miscreants they apprehend and detain the illegal aliens until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can take custody of them, criminal elements among the illegals would quickly be brought under control. All too often offenders are turned loose and continue their anti-social activities until someone is finally killed. Zero tolerance for these illegals must be the rule if we are to avoid the kinds of repeated offenses that often lead to tragedies as described in the following examples:
When emergency workers arrived at the scene of the crash on February 19, 2008, they found the bright yellow school bus lying shattered on its side. A few minutes earlier, the bus had been carrying 28 children home from the Lakeview School in Cottonwood, Minnesota. That's when a van barreled through a stop sign and smashed into the bus killing four students between the ages of 9 and 13. Marty and Rita Javens lost two sons, Hunter and Jesse. Six other children were seriously injured.
The woman who police said was driving the van--a 24-year-old illegal alien from Guatemala named Olga Marina Franco del Cid--did not have a valid driver's license. Even worse, she'd been caught driving illegally before. Earlier, in 2006, a resident of Montevideo, Minnesota, called police about a driver who had plowed into her yard. The driver on that occasion was also Olga, who managed to hide her illegal status and pleaded guilty to driving without a license. Her punishment? A $182 fine.
People in Denver are still asking why was illegal alien Francis Hernandez was still on the street after being arrested nearly 20 times over five years. Police and immigration officials continue to deny they failed in their responsibility to detain and deport Hernandez before his most recent crash that killed three people. He is accused of causing the wreck that sent two vehicles careening into an ice cream shop and killing a three-year-old inside plus two women in a pickup truck.
How many illegal alien drivers are on our roads? No one knows for sure, but the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles recently estimated that there were "tens of thousands" of unlicensed drivers in that state alone. All of this helps to explain why America suffers a stomach-turning 117 driving-related deaths per day. Of course, illegal aliens are not the only ones at fault; reckless teenagers and others in their early twenties whose brains are not fully developed also contribute to this tragic record. It is clear however that if illegal aliens were not on our streets and highways we could all rest a little easier.
Nearly one-third of the estimated 435,000 immigrants in Colorado are believed to be illegal. It is likely that even more are the children of illegal aliens. Across the country, crimes involving illegal immigrants have become a lightning rod for criticism and fiery rhetoric, and it's no different in Colorado. The arrest of Hernandez and subsequent revelation that he is an illegal immigrant from Guatemala has renewed a long-simmering and often acrimonious debate about immigration reform.
It is not just the safety records of illegals that is troublesome. A May 2006 World Net Daily report cites a study by the Violent Crimes Institute. Spokeswoman Deborah Schurman-Kauflin says a year-long, in-depth study estimates:
...there are about 240,000 illegal immigrant sex offenders in the United States who have had an average of four victims each.
...based on a figure of 12 million illegal immigrants and the fact that more of this population is male than average, sex offenders among illegals make up a higher percentage than offenders in the general population.
She arrives at the figure of 240,000 offenders – a conservative estimate, she says – through public records showing about 2 percent of illegals apprehended are sex offenders.
"This translates to 93 sex offenders and 12 serial sexual offenders coming across U.S. borders illegally per day," she says.
She points out the 1,500 offenders in her study had a total of 5,999 victims, and each sex offender averaged four victims.
"This places the estimate for victimization numbers around 960,000 for the 88 months examined in this study," she declares.
Nobody knows how many of the illegals are violent. I do know illegal aliens are killing more Americans than the Iraq war. A new report from "Family Security Matters" (FSM) estimates some 2,158 murders are committed every year by illegal aliens in the U.S. The group says that number is more than 15 percent of all the murders reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. and about three times the representation of illegal aliens in the general population. The report from FSM estimates that the 267,000 illegal aliens currently incarcerated in the nation are responsible for nearly 1,300,000 crimes, ranging from drug arrests to rape and murder." I realize that such statistics debunk the claim that illegal immigration is a victimless crime.
The murder of Kris Eggle, a park ranger in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona on August 9, 2002, was little noted by the media, although the press has paid considerable attention to the deaths of illegal aliens on the border. Ranger Eggle was shot down by Mexican drug dealers who were using Organ Pipe as a route for their smuggling. Only 28 when he was murdered, Eggle was a valedictorian and an Eagle Scout who joined the National Park Service because he loved the outdoors. (Organ Pipe is considered to be the most dangerous of the national park system: 200,000 illegal aliens and 700,000 pounds of drugs were intercepted at the park in 2001.) It was this incident that triggered my epiphany regarding illegal aliens and moved me to make this confession and to alter my position regarding those whom I have been supporting previously without reservation and without regard to my fellow Americans. I was mistaken and for that I apologize profusely.
I have therefore decided to stop insulting the pro-America advocates who clearly have the high ground in this argument. They are my intellectual peers and do not warrant any insults because they oppose those who flaunt the law and denigrate national sovereignty and the nation interest. I will never again suggest that they are incapable of thinking for themselves and researching the facts from the various sources, writers, reports and pundits on the subject of illegal aliens. It was Mexican drug dealers who murdered Ranger Eggle. He could have been my son. In thinking about his bereaved parents, I could again say, "There but for the grace of God go I." Enough is enough! Our government's long neglect of border security and its failure to enact an effective policy toward illegal aliens contributed to Eggle's death. His parents should never forgive those spineless idiots in Washington who offer no solutions except the amnesty and mass legalization that will certainly exacerbate the problem in the same way that the 1986 amnesty did.