Jewish World Review July 30, 2001 / 10 Menachem-Av 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- NOWHERE is the air of unreality that pervades our politics more pronounced than on illegal immigration.
If the champions of "undocumented workers" are to be believed, we owe these hard-working, long-suffering individuals a debt of gratitude. At the very least, we should have a ticker-tape parade in their honor.
According to The New York Times of July 24, the Bush administration is considering legalizing the status of up to 2 million of the roughly 3 million Mexicans living here illegally. Why Mexicans and not others who broke our laws to come here? Because no one is pandering to the Haitian-American vote.
The refrain has been heard so often it could almost be set to music -- they clean our homes, cook our meals and pick our produce. What are you going to do, deport them? Our economy couldn't get along without them. It's a matter of fairness.
Fairness to whom? Surely not the millions waiting patiently to come here legally. What about national interest? If we declared an amnesty for murderers, do you think the homicide rate might go up?
Why is it politicians can't grasp the obvious? Most of the Third World would love to live here. Approximately 300,000 arrive illegally each year.
In 1986, we amnestied 2.7 million of 5 million illegal aliens. That was supposed to solve the problem. Instead, it resulted in an influx of others who had reason to hope that eventually their status would be "regularized." Now there may be as many as 8 million illegals in the United States.
Which raises an intriguing question -- If illegal immigration is such a boon, wouldn't more be even better? Perhaps the Border Patrol should be ordered to look the other way, so that instead of 300,000 uninvited guests a year, we get 3 million or 30 million. Then they'll be even more hard-working folks to cut out lawns and pluck our chickens.
Any guesses on what that would do to our social structure and national cohesion?
As it transpires, illegals aren't quite an unalloyed blessing. According to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies (based on data collected by the Census Bureau), 34 percent of households headed by legal Mexican immigrants use at least one major welfare program, compared to 15 percent of native households. Many of those ambitious illegals have children to be educated and elderly relatives in need of medical care. Services for them will be provided at your expense.
Illegals have low-paying jobs for a reason. Two-thirds of those from Mexico lack a high-school diploma, compared to fewer than 10 percent of the native born. They displace workers on the lowest rung of the economic ladder, normally the objects of liberal compassion.
On this issue alone, the left speaks the language of corporate America -- illegal immigration is an economic necessity. But if jobs really are going begging, let employers offer wages to attract Americans, instead of asking society to make up the difference.
Politics, not compassion, drives the administration. In the 2000 election, President George Bush took 35 percent of the Hispanic vote. His strategists believe he can increase that number by selling out sovereignty with another amnesty.
The president also received the votes of a whopping 80 percent of conservatives. How many will he lose in 2004 with this ploy? And, yes, they do have some place else to go -- they can stay home. In the last election, Bush lost 46 percent of the white vote. How many of them would the president impress with a firm stand on lawbreakers? According to a February CNN poll, 78 percent of the public opposes an amnesty for Mexicans who are here illegally.
And what about blacks, who are hurt most by economic competition with illegal immigrant labor? Bush lost 90 percent of their votes.
It's a mistake to assume that Hispanics march in lockstep. Many, G-d bless them, put nation ahead of ethnicity. In 1994, 33 percent of Hispanic voters in California cast their ballots for Proposition 187, which sought to deny government benefits to illegals. More could be reached with an honest explanation of what's at stake here.
Illegal immigration, which erodes our identity, is a threat to America's survival. It's really
not about who will be elected to govern the country in 2004, but whether, in the future, there
will be any country left to
JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.