Secretary of Homeland Security
Dr. Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security January 16, 2009
Dear Madam Secretary:
I am a native-born American Citizen. My mother was born in Kansas City, Missouri and my father in Lolland, Denmark. He is a naturalized citizen. Four members of our family served in World War II or the Korean War.
We know and understand the history of immigration during our country’s 233 year existence. In the early days, immigration was uncontrolled, and rightly so, as a vast, largely-unsettled continent lay before the Founding Fathers and their successors. In those times, our natural resources seemed limitless. Now we know better.
Gradually, immigration became more controlled and laws were passed to regulate the number of legal immigrants that were admitted and stop illegal entry.
My family and I strongly support securing our borders and ports of entry. We also believe that vigorous and continuous internal enforcement is an essential part of border security. If potential illegal aliens, terrorists, or smugglers believe that once they escape the immediate environs of the border they are home free, they will keep trying until they succeed. In fact, we saw a statistic somewhere that indicated fully 97% of those who wish to enter our country illegally are ultimately successful. Often the amount charged by coyotes includes a guarantee of such success. Some illegals make multiple tries during a single day because the catch and escort back across the border policy allows them to do so.
Some people have indicated that they are in favor of secure borders but would deny us the tools necessary to achieve that goal. While infrastructure and staffing improvements at the border and changes in the rules of engagement are essential, those improvements must be buttressed with internal enforcement based on E-Verification of work status. If we could get the terrorists, drug lords, and smugglers to sew a scarlet letter on their clothing so they could be easily identified, Homeland Security’s job would be much easier. Obviously that is not going to happen so our security depends on a comprehensive approach rather than one that tries to focus all our resources on just sorting out the violent criminal elements. We must apprehend, detain, and repatriate as many illegals and criminals as we can, with due regard for their humane treatment and the demonstrated needs of our economy.
While no one wishes to deport the illegal alien grandmother of a soldier serving in a combat zone, there are many others who deserve immediate repatriation with the admonition that if they return they will do hard time. That point could be made crystal clear by putting all of the apprehended, able-bodied, male illegals to work for six months on border infrastructure at minimum wage before they are escorted back across the border.
“Justice delayed is justice denied” so we need to expedite all immigration hearings. We believe every case should be decided within 24 hours with no more than a week for an appeal. To accomplish this, the criteria for immigration decisions should be fair but rigid. In most cases, the illegal aliens’ situation should be obvious. If they have made a conscious effort to assimilate, learn English, contribute to their larger communities, and are well thought of by employers and neighbors alike, those may be good reasons for allowing them to stay if they can pass a back ground check and a health exam, pay any back taxes, and can prove that they have been here for at least five years.
Another approach would be to require employers to re-advertise, at a living wage with a hiring preference for American workers, all of their jobs currently held by foreign workers. If irrefutable proof can be presented that a good faith effort along these lines has been made to no avail, then the same consideration stated above could be offered to these foreign employees. We should insist that employers of foreign workers provide them with full family health care insurance so that employers are unable to offload these costs on the unsuspecting public.
This approach is different from any blanket legalization or amnesty. We know from the 1986 immigration bill what the result would be of another such amnesty, no matter what we call it. We excused the behavior of a million illegals in 1986 only to find ourselves with another 12-20 million 20 years later. They came with the full expectation that another amnesty or mass legalization would be offered sooner or later and they were right as witnessed by the various comprehensive immigration reform bills that were introduced in 2007 and 2008.
The rule of law and the national interest are strong arguments for secure borders but there are many others. For example, there is a basic calculus concept called the “limit”. The limit of finite natural resources per capita as population increases without bounds is zero. So the question is: how far down that road do we want to go? We hope the answer is “no más”. Our immigration and tax policies should be consistent with that answer. Some have proposed reducing the limit on legal immigrations to no more than 200,000 per year, exclusive of students, tourists, and temporary migrant workers. We believe that is a good idea, one that is consistent with our dwindling natural resources. (As you know, water, here in the Southwest, is one such critical natural resource.) The 200,000 should be focused on those applicants who have the education, inventiveness, innovative and entrepreneurial skills we will need to survive in an increasingly competitive world. We should invite the brightest foreign PhD students in engineering and the sciences to remain here and put their intellects to work for America.
A beautiful quotation by British philosopher John Stuart in his classic 1848 Principles of Political Economy commends a change of values:
“There is room in the world, no doubt, and even in old countries [in 1848], for a great increase in population, supposing the arts of life to go on improving, and capital to increase. But even if innocuous, I confess I see very little reason for desiring it.”
Physics Professor-Emeritus Albert Bartlett of the University of Colorado put it best:
“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from the microscopic to the global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”
Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) said,
“It is both the right and the obligation of government to make sure our immigration policies serve the national interest.”
We do not need more immigrants, legal or illegal, other than noted above. So let’s close the door on chain immigrations and excessive immigrations of all kinds. Let’s try to find a way to stop giving away birthright citizenship to the offspring of illegal aliens. We need a national objective of a stable population and a plan to achieve it within 20 years. We can achieve that goal with appropriate tax and immigration policies. The alternative is a rapid depletion of our finite natural resources and a continuing destruction of the environment. The UN estimates that the per capita output of pollutants by Americans is 20 metric tons per year. If our population increases by another 300 million people by the end of this century, we will produce another 6 billion tons of pollutants each year at the present rate. Even if we were able, through some technological miracle, to reduce the rate by half to 10 metric tons per capita, the current level of Mexico, we would not have made any progress on reducing the present unacceptable total output. When discussing environmental policies, our leaders have studiously avoided the most important factor, population growth.
There are many other legitimate reasons for continuing ICE raids on workplaces and 287(g) raids as an indirect part of our effort to secure the borders. Obviously, detention rather than catch-and-release is essential to the success of those efforts. Women and children could be allowed to choose to return immediately to their homelands or detention awaiting the expedited adjudication of their cases by an immigration judge. Male illegals 16 years of age or above must be detained or they will simply disappear. The length of stays in detention should be minimized. Family separation should almost never be a basis for allowing illegals to remain in this country. Deportees must take their minor children with them regardless of the children’s citizenship.
Any observer of the volume of vehicular and pedestrian cross-border traffic would quickly conclude that your job is hopeless unless that volume is reduced significantly. Cross-border work or educational commutes should be prohibited. Trailers should be detached at the border and re-attached to American tractors. This would take any contraband out of the hands of a driver who may be in collusion with the smugglers. It would also make our highways safer.
To provide a final emphasis on the idea of a stable population with a soft landing for our economy, I offer the following quote from the eminent demographer Joel Cohen:
“I personally am very concerned by the vast inequitable and largely avoidable burdens of hunger, disease, violence, ignorance and poverty borne by too many billions of people. But I will not try to persuade you that the world will end in the next ten years unless everybody changes to a diet of soybeans and contraceptive pills, or that a universal diet of soybeans and contraceptive pills would eliminate hunger, disease, violence, ignorance and poverty…. But I will try to persuade you that the world [or the U.S.] cannot easily and comfortably accommodate an unlimited number of people at any desirable level of material, mental and civic well-being.”