We believe that individuals of all nationalities deserve a fair and equal opportunity to become American citizens. We believe America’s immigration practices should be rational, ethical and compassionate, put the needs of the American people above special interests, and not play politics with human rights and lives. We believe that equal protection of the law expresses America’s most fundamental principles: it must apply to those seeking citizenship, not just current citizens. We are committed to rule of law, ending discriminatory immigration practices and biased policies, safeguarding the value of American citizenship, and securing our borders.
Immigration and related issues are increasingly in the media and on the minds of Americans. There is great confusion, much spinning and outright fabrication, reason and fact are hard to find. The public needs honest answers to the questions avoided by those who seek not truth but political manipulation. We have laid out the most important and neglected immigration questions and tried to answer them honestly.
HONEST ANSWERS ON IMMIGRATION
(TO THE QUESTIONS PC LIBERALS, PRESIDENT BUSH, AND CERTAIN SPECIAL INTERESTS HOPE YOU WON’T ASK)
- What does “comprehensive immigration reform” really mean?
- Who supports “comprehensive immigration reform?”
- Who is hurt by illegal immigration?
- What are the fiscal implications of immigration?
- What impact does immigration have on the environment?
- Does failure to enforce immigration laws undermine the rule of law that protects and sustains our freedoms?
- Does uncontrolled illegal migration nourish organized crime and official corruption?
- What is our government DOING to prevent terrorists and criminals from crossing our borders hidden among the unchecked flow of illegal migrants?
- PC activists have fashioned a ”Hispanic” pseudo-race out of a disparate assortment of distinctive peoples and unique cultures. Does this misrepresentation actually diminish and disparage them?
- Are current American immigration practices discriminatory?
- Should Mexican and Central American immigrants have special rights and advantages?
- Will securing the border “discriminate” against “our neighbors?”
- Do current immigration practices support a covert agenda to create a North American Union (or Empire)?
- Does uncontrolled immigration to the United States actually hurt Mexico and the Mexican people?
- How do the Internet, rapid travel, international terrorism, and modern citizenship impact “open borders?”
- How can Congress plug the anchor baby loophole?
- Should “equal protection of the law” give American citizens recourse for damages resulting from federal officials’ non-enforcement of immigration laws?
- Who understands immigration better, the American people or the PC intelligentsia?
- Why hasn’t the opposition to open borders and “comprehensive immigration reform” prevailed?
- What immigration policies can strengthen and unite America?
1. What does “comprehensive immigration reform” really mean? A prime example of the Orwellian Newspeak President Bush and PC neo-liberals fall into when discussing immigration, “comprehensive immigration reform” is neither comprehensive, nor reform, nor is it chiefly about immigration. It is not reform because it validates, rather than prevents, illegal immigration and negligent enforcement of US immigration laws. It is not comprehensive since it ignores essential questions about our immigration policy: how do we insure that diverse nationalities get a fair and equal opportunity to become American citizens? How do we obtain the immigrants most needed by our economy and society? How can we facilitate immigration for persecuted peoples and individuals across the globe? How do we insure that we grant citizenship to those who love our country and want to assimilate rather than those who despise America, seek separateness, and might divide or damage us? Finally, “comprehensive immigration reform” is more about protecting special interests than about crafting sound and fair immigration policy, and those it champions are not legal immigrants but illegal entrants and employers exploiting cheap labor.
2. Who supports “comprehensive immigration reform?” Some key supporters are: the US Chamber of Commerce; the PC intelligentsia; Presidents Bush and Clinton; Senators McCain, Kennedy, Reid, Brownback, and Specter; the Catholic Church and various liberal Protestant groups; the government of Mexico and La Raza; the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal editorial boards; employers of unregulated labor at substandard wages: e.g. hotels and restaurants, agribusiness, food processing, construction, and wealthy people of every political stripe who want cheap servants. This motley crew is so disparate it makes you wonder, what do they have in common? They are united by glib refusal to question their assumptions, examine all options, and weigh long-range consequences.
3. Who is hurt by illegal immigration? Middle class taxpayers are hurt because illegal migrants require social services, like education, healthcare and welfare, without paying enough taxes to offset the added costs. Thus, employers of illegal labor get a free ride at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. They also gain an unfair advantage over more conscientious competitors who obey our immigration laws. The poorest Americans are hurt worst, including many African Americans and Mexican Americans who are lawful citizens. Some economists estimate that the income of Americans without a high school degree has been cut 8% by wage competition from illegal migrants. Moreover, poorer Americans who live in areas heavily impacted by the migrants may suffer degradation of environment, schools, and healthcare; by contrast, wealthy Americans who want low wage servants deal with the migrants only when and where they choose. Illegal migration cheats the middle class taxpayer, enriches the rich, and impoverishes the poor.
4. What are the fiscal implications of immigration? The answer depends on the type of immigrants we admit and how many. The US faces huge fiscal challenges when the baby boomers begin to retire in 2012. Immigration, by increasing the workforce and thus social security tax revenue, can help meet social security and Medicare obligations, if, and this is a very big IF, the immigrants learn English and get education, practice family planning, start businesses, are high earners, and do not overburden local services. However, if the immigrants require more in services than they pay in taxes, immigration will worsen America’s fiscal position making it harder to meet our Medicare, social security and other long term obligations.
Although statistics on the performance of recent immigrant groups are incomplete, they indicate that legal immigrants, Asians for instance, generally perform better in school than illegal migrants from Mexico and Central America. In a recent year 94% of California children of Asian immigrants graduated from high school, whereas only 46% of “Hispanic” children graduated. As a rule, high school graduates tend to pay more taxes and consume less in social services than those who never graduate. Fiscal considerations alone should not determine to whom we grant citizenship, but they need to be part of the discussion.
5. What impact does immigration have on the environment? Immigration increases population, population burdens the environment. Hence, some environmentalists favor zero immigration. However, we are the world’s leading democracy with a noble tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution: zero immigration violates that tradition and it could hurt our economy. Still, our choice of immigrants impacts population growth which we can help limit by giving priority to immigrants fleeing persecution and to those who tend to practice responsible family planning. Among the largest recent immigrants groups, the average birthrate for Asians, many of whom are fleeing persecution, is 1.7/couple; for those from Mexico and Central America it is 3.6.
6. Does failure to enforce immigration laws undermine the rule of law that protects and sustains our freedoms? Illegal migrants break our laws just by being here; US businesses violate our laws when they hire illegal migrants. Elected officials ignore their sworn duties when they suspend enforcement to benefit commercial interests, often in exchange for political support and campaign contributions.
The foundation of American democracy is respect for law as an institution even when one disagrees with particular laws. We cannot allow individuals to choose which laws they will obey. We must not tolerate officials who uphold only the laws they like and exempt their friends from enforcement. US Presidents take an oath to defend our country and uphold its laws; yet every recent President has dodged his duty to secure our borders and enforce immigration laws. Like lying to the public, willful failure to enforce laws is a breach of faith. Indeed, selective non-enforcement is an abuse of power that imperils the freedom all.
7. Does uncontrolled illegal migration nourish organized crime and official corruption? Mexico and El Salvador, have long ago replaced Italy and Sicily, with their fabled Mafia, as the prime sources of organized crime, criminals, and gangs in America. The narcotics trade is the largest and most lucrative of these “immigrant” criminal enterprises, but by no means the only one. Smuggling, document forgery and identity theft are naturals, since millions of illegal migrants need forged drivers licenses, social security cards, birth certificates etc. US firms and individuals who knowingly employ illegals become enablers and accomplices of these criminal enterprises. The corruption penetrates our enforcement agencies and courts as officials are pressured, sometimes by demagogic allegations of “racism,” to turn a blind eye on “immigrant” related crime.
There is a danger that different legal and ethical standards will develop to accommodate different subcultures. If to accommodate illegals and their employers a double legal standard develops further, it will corrupt all of American society as the South’s Jim Crowe laws once corrupted all of America. Now as then, the necessary remedy is rigorous enforcement of the ethical and legal objectivity enjoined by the 14th Amendment.
8. What is our government DOING to prevent terrorists and criminals from crossing our borders hidden among the unchecked flow of illegal migrants? The answer is POSTURING. The threats of crime and terrorism posed by America’s unsecured borders are serious. Because some elements of the Bush Administration want to maintain the supply of cheap, illegal labor, it tries to distract us with posturing. The Patriot Act makes it harder for terrorists to enter the country legally, but conspicuously ignores illegal crossings of our Mexican and Canadian borders. By raising the bars to legal entry, we exclude or discourage law-abiding immigrants, students, workers, and tourists who could help our economy. Apparently, the Bush Administration expects the American people to believe that terrorists and criminals are too timid to enter USA the same ways millions of illegal immigrants enter. They assume the American people and the media are so dumb they will mistake their posturing for responsible action. So far much of the media, with exceptions like Lou Dobbs, has been this dumb.
Since 9/11 the American people understand the threat from terrorism, but remain ill informed about the threat of crime and criminal influxes posed by our unsecured land borders. Although the government fails to collect adequate statistics on illegal migrant crime, the spotty statistics we have indicate that more than 12% of illegal migrants have criminal records and about 2% have been convicted of violent crimes like assault, rape, murder, and armed robbery. Illegal migrants, who fill our jails and prisons out of proportion to their share of the general population, conduct more than 80% of America’s illicit narcotics trade, an estimated $25-45B/year business.
To understand the attraction of America for foreign criminals, place yourself in their situation. Which side of the border would a criminal rather operate on? A wealthy country offers richer pickings than a poor one. If that isn’t enough, the American legal system is more lenient than the ones south of the border; and our jails are preferable to their southern counterparts. Moreover, someone wanted for crimes in Mexico or Central America can easily fade into our vast illegal migrant population. The bottom line is that any wealthy country that fails to secure its borders will become a haven for criminals from its poorer neighbors.
9. PC activists have fashioned a ”Hispanic” pseudo-race out of a disparate assortment of distinctive peoples and unique cultures. Does this misrepresentation actually diminish and disparage them? Our political and media elites discuss Hispanics as if they are as culturally and racially cohesive as African-Americans, Jews, or Chinese. As the term is used in the USA, “Hispanics,” like “Asians,” are an amorphous collection of nationalities united by neither race, nor culture, nor religion, nor language. Their single common denominator is geographic: they or some of their ancestors originated at some point from Spain, Portugal or one of their array of colonies spread across the globe.
Afro-Cubans, Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Columbians all count as Hispanic, along with Japanese Brazilians, German Costa Ricans, Anglo-Argentines, and Italian Chileans. Hispanics are sometimes said to be “brown,” but that seldom applies to any of the above or to Spaniards and Portuguese. Most recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America are of Native American or Mestizo descent; those from Cuba, South America or Iberia usually are of European or African descent. Many “Hispanic” countries are distinct nations with rich national cultures, for example, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, and of course Spain and Portugal. Each possesses its own well-developed traditions in art, music, and literature whose individuality merits respect.
While Catholicism was once their state religion, these countries now display religious diversity with large evangelical Protestant minorities in many. Since in the USA people from both Spanish and Portuguese countries count as “Hispanic,” they lack a common language; moreover, their dialects and accents vary widely. Indeed, we count as “Hispanic” native peoples from Latin America who speak only their native tongues. Sometimes, as in Mexico and Peru, these peoples have little in common culturally with their “Hispanic” countrymen of European descent whom they regard as alien oppressors; they in turn are discriminated against or shunned by their white European “fellow Hispanics.”
A recent study found that average US family income of Asians is about $60.000, whites $52,000, African-Americans $30,000 and “Hispanics” $36,000. However, among the distinct Hispanic subgroups there are wide income variations. Those from Spain, Portugal, Cuba, Argentina, and some other Latin American areas enjoy incomes similar to other whites. While most recent Mexican and Central American immigrants, especially illegals, are closer to African Americans. The same generalization applies to educational attainment. Lumping them all together obscures the achievements of some and obfuscates the needs and problems of others.
Many recent immigrants, legal and otherwise, from Mexico and Central Americans have enough racial and cultural similarities that it makes some sense to view them as a loose demographic group. The undisclosed motive for lumping them with “Hispanics,” who more resemble European immigrants like Italians and Poles, is to increase the total numbers of “Hispanics” and thus the size of their affirmative action de facto quotas. However, fashioning a nearly meaningless “Hispanic” pseudo-race is intellectually dishonest and it diminishes the great diversity and distinctive achievements of this rich array of peoples and cultures. It’s a cynical devaluation of true diversity for the sake of PC opportunism.
Although on certain issues Cuban Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Puerto Ricans may tend to vote as blocks, it is no surprise that politicians have trouble finding strategies that appeal to the “Hispanic voting block,” because that block does not exist. The issues that move all Americans are the same as those that move “Hispanics.” To make immigration a wedge issue in a demagogic play for the “Hispanic” vote is an insult to these voters and to all Americans who believe in equal rights and fair play.
10. Are current American immigration practices discriminatory? Common sense tells us that drawing the majority of our total immigrants from less than 5% of the potential worldwide pool is discriminatory. We discriminate against deserving immigrants from Asia, Africa, and the rest of the world in order to insure an ample supply of cheap, pliable labor from Mexico and Central America. Africans and Asians outnumber Mexicans and Central Americans by 30 to 1. Yet among our recent immigrants, legal and otherwise, Mexicans and Central Americans outnumber Asians and Africans by nearly two to one. Why? Certainly, millions from outside of North America want to immigrate here. We make it easy for North and Central Americans by leaving our borders unsecured; we make it hard for immigrants from elsewhere by subjecting them to tight legal controls, delays, and bureaucratic obstacle courses. In practice we favor those immigrants who disregard our laws over those who obey them; one of the many bad consequences is de facto racial discrimination.
US courts have established a results standard for discrimination. Thus, if a city is 40% African American, but its fire department is only 4% African American, our courts will rule that discrimination exists regardless of whether specific cases can be verified. By the same results standard, where Mexicans and Central Americans make up the majority of our total immigrants yet are less than 5% of the worldwide pool, our immigration practices discriminate against the 95% of potential immigrants belonging to other nationalities.
The courts have ruled that the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of our laws and proscribes discrimination, applies only to those who are already citizens. Notwithstanding, equal protection is based on deep-rooted ethics going back thousands of years (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence (all men are created equal). Clearly, for Congress to outlaw discriminatory immigration practices is appropriate, right, and long overdue.
Indeed, immigration practices biased to favor Mexicans and Central Americans over Africans and Asians send an implicit message that American citizens of African and Asian descent are less desirable. Thus, discriminating in respect to national origin on who gets to become a US citizen weakens the credibility of America’s overall commitment to equal opportunity and equality before the law. America has a moral and ethical obligation to practice equal opportunity immigration. We need to bring our immigration policies and practices into harmony with our national ideals.
11. Should Mexican and Central American immigrants have special rights and advantages? Some spokesmen for radical “Latino” groups assert that because their ancestors are from North America, Mexican and Central American immigrants are entitled to priority over Asians, Africans etc. In fact, the human race originated in Africa and very few Mexicans and Central Americans have ancestors who lived in the USA during the last millennium. But facts count for little where opportunism runs the show.
More is at stake than just facts. The United States is founded on the principle that each individual’s human rights should trump other claims based on group membership (slaves, freemen, lords, royalty, ancestry, etc). Respect for individual rights is the ethical basis of our Bill of Rights and of American civilization. America’s Revolutionary War was fought to establish the priority of individual rights; we fought a long and bloody Civil War to strengthen and expand them. Indeed, America’s great Twentieth Century struggles to defeat Nazism, Fascism, and Marxism were in large measure to defend individual human rights against those who treat people not as individuals with inalienable rights but as members of groups with greater, lesser, or no rights.
12. Will securing the border “discriminate” against “our neighbors?” Strong fences make good neighbors; walls are good or bad as they are used. The Great Wall of China and the Roman wall in Britain protected the Chinese and Roman civilizations from marauding barbarians. The Berlin wall, which imprisoned the East German people, became a symbol of tyranny. A fence along the Mexican border no more infringes upon legitimate rights than do locked doors. Those who oppose a fence ought to by logic oppose airport immigration checks and passports. If Canadians and Mexicans should be free to walk across our borders, why stop Chinese, Nigerians, Saudis, and Palestinians from freely entering by plane or boat? Is it not discriminatory to ignore illegal entrants crossing our land borders and impose severe restrictions everyone else?
13. Do current immigration practices support a covert agenda to create a North American Union (or Empire)? There is a long history of misguided Americans harboring the fantasy of annexing Mexico. NAFTA and the proposed North American Union advance this foolhardy goal, as does the idea of open borders with Mexico. Some who seek to insure US Global dominance through the 21st century are concerned that EU, China, and India all have much larger populations than USA and will in time have larger economies able to support more powerful military machines, in the case of China a serious worry. Assuming the United States wants to expand, it could do so most easily in two ways. It could form a union with the other English speaking democracies whose cultures, traditions, and economies resemble ours. Or it could undertake geographic expansion by joining with Canada, Mexico, and possibly Central America and the Caribbean.
An English Speaking Union might have been a viable idea in 1950 (Winston Churchill liked it) but would be difficult to achieve today with Britain in the EU. The result might have been a globe-spanning nation unified by language, democratic values, and culture. Geographic proximity, critical in ancient and medieval times, has waned in important since then until in our age of jet travel and instant communication it has very limited relevancy. North American Union is an anachronistic attempt to create a multilingual, continental empire for Uncle Sam. Less stable than nations, empires spend too much energy struggling to stay in one piece. North American Union would not be a union of equals like the EU, but, dominated by USA, it would absorb and debilitate the distinct cultures of our continent fostering resentment and strife. This outmoded yet dangerous plan is on the agenda of some who support open borders.
14. Does uncontrolled immigration to the United States actually hurt Mexico and the Mexican people? Mexico is a large, potentially rich country; it is not over-populated or poor in natural resources. Its per capita resources exceed those of wealthy countries like France, Germany, Taiwan, and Japan; in fact they approach those of the United States. Mexico is neither overpopulated nor is its population rapidly growing; migration to the US is actually depopulating some rural areas. However, Mexico does not use its advantages to benefit its entire people, but to perpetuate a privileged elite, mostly of European descent, that has long exploited and oppressed the mostly Mestizo or native American masses. When we provide a large immigration outlet for discontent Mexicans, we help sustain the Mexican elite’s discrimination and exploitation by reducing pressure for reform. Indeed, America takes away industrious, motivated Mexican citizens that are needed to develop and reform Mexico. Thus, current immigration policies enrich already rich Americans at the expense of the Mexican nation.
15. What are the implications of the Internet, rapid travel, international terrorism, and modern citizenship for “open borders?” The Internet and telecommunications have largely eliminated borders as barriers to information flow. At the same time, because of rapid travel and terrorism, no wealthy country can afford unsecured physical borders. With open borders, wealthy countries will be overrun with poor migrants and become easy prey for criminals and terrorists—that is happening to America whose land borders, while not legally open, are so badly secured they are practically open.
In the modern world legally open borders would resemble pure communism on an international scale. It would mean that not only could Mexicans continue to flood into our country, they would be joined by a tsunami of Chinese, Indians, Africans and Islamic radicals as well. Just as pure communism eliminates private property, true open borders would mean that a country’s citizens do not own their country or its territory. If, as some open border advocates maintain, foreign nationals should be able to use our schools and hospitals without paying, why not let foreign enterprises exploit our oil, coal and other resources without paying? An intellectually honest person who favors open borders should by logic favor eliminating other property rights as well.
Citizenship can be conceived as a right to “access and use” similar to intellectual property rights. It brings the right to access a country’s economic opportunities as well as use its social services like education, healthcare, pensions etc. But opportunities and the tax money to pay for services are limited, open them to all and the access of citizens will suffer. Illegal immigration and de facto open borders devalue opportunities and services that rightfully belong only to American citizens. Amnesty for illegal migrants legitimizes this devaluation of American citizenship. Who gets hurt most by citizenship devaluation? Not wealthy individuals and corporations, who can buy whatever they need, but the poor who must rely on their rights as citizens. Uninhibited about hypocrisy, rich corporations who fiercely defend their intellectual property rights, too often are quick to devalue the citizenship rights of ordinary Americans in order to secure cheap labor.
Modern citizenship may be seen as like a share in a corporation with citizens sometimes subject to the same perils as shareholders. Just as stock in an asset rich, profitable company is worth more than stock in a nearly bankrupt enterprise, so citizenship in a country like America or Japan is worth more than in Guatemala or Burma. Citizenship’s value can be diluted or increased by the country granting it. In a democracy, citizenship ought not be devalued to benefit special interests or without the citizenry’s consent. Open border proponents are like rapacious corporate officers who issue to themselves huge stock options thereby diluting the shares of hapless investors.
Open border advocates claim we should open our borders to Mexicans since “they are our neighbors.” In the era of slow communications and slower travel, some countries gave preference to immigrants from neighboring areas; but times have changed making this policy an anachronism. Because of the Internet and telecommunication, anyone across the planet who is wired is indeed closer than a mere neighbor, they’re as near as roommates. Mexico City is 5 hours to New York by Jet, Bangkok is 17: hardly a rationale for preferring immigrants from Mexico to those from Southeast Asia. It’s also not an ethical justification for taxing US citizens to provide free healthcare, education, and welfare for Mexican and Central American citizens who entered illegally while much more needy people across the globe remain excluded and ignored.
16. How can Congress plug the anchor baby loophole? Almost unique among nations, the US grants citizenship to anyone born here, even if their parents are foreign nationals who entered the US illegally. As a result, we have become a magnet for lawbreakers who enter just to deliver their babies and thereby get a shortcut to US citizenship for their children and through them for themselves. To allow aliens to gain the rights of citizenship by breaking our laws is folly. The loophole is an instance of courts’ elevating judicial prerogatives over common sense in interpreting the 14th Amendment.
The courts’ peculiar assertion conflicts with the Federal government’s duty to secure our borders, Congress’s responsibility to determine qualifications for new citizens, and the right of citizens to protection of the value of their citizenship. Congress should fight fire with fire by using the compelling need arguments the courts use to circumvent the literal meaning of the 14th Amendment in order to allow affirmative action preferences. We need legislation saying that because the US has a compelling need to control its borders, set standards for selecting new citizens, and secure citizenship rights from dilution, henceforth persons born in America get automatic citizenship only if at least one parent is a lawful US resident. The courts might try to throw it out, but if the new law were well crafted and widely supported, such a display of judicial power would be risky for them. To most Americans it is indisputable that defining US citizenship, maintaining its integrity, and protecting it from devaluation are compelling national interests.
17. Should “equal protection of the law” give American citizens recourse for damages resulting from federal officials’ non-enforcement of immigration laws? Equal protection of the law ought to protect American citizens from damage caused by public officials from the President on down who neglect or suspend law enforcement to benefit special interests. Non-enforcement places the interests of those who want workers at substandard wages above the public interest. The poor in general and poor African American and Mexican American citizens in particular are disproportionately impacted by the burdens on local governments and unfair wage competition from illegal migrants. The courts are remiss in their duty to protect ordinary American citizens from the unequal impact of federal officials’ deliberate neglect of border and immigration enforcement.
18. Who understands immigration better, the American people or the PC intelligentsia? Unlike our self styled intelligentsia, the American people know that respect for law by all citizens and all officials is essential to maintaining freedom and democracy. They are not taken in by the intelligentsia’s PC newspeak that makes amnesty “earned citizenship.” They know that cheap illegal labor undercuts the wages of American workers. They can understand why giving illegal migrants from Mexico and Central America huge advantages over legal immigrants from elsewhere is imprudent, discriminatory, and un-American. They care about the consequences bad immigration practices and policies will have for their children, grandchildren, and America itself. Unfortunately, politicians and the media can too easily get away with ignoring the American people. As a result, immigration policy is caught in a gridlock of stale thought that precludes honest discussion, blocks genuine reform, and perpetuates abuses that benefit only special interests.
19. Why hasn’t the opposition to open borders and “comprehensive immigration reform” prevailed? Less sophisticated, less powerful, and less wealthy than corporate interests and the PC intelligentsia, the opposition has failed to educate the public and our politicians about the moral, social, legal, and economic flaws of current practices. It has been reluctant to make the Bush Administration accountable for ignoring the laws and betraying national interest for special interests. The opposition hurts its own cause by too often coming across as stubbornly anti-immigrant. They appear not to stress fair, prudent, and wise immigration policies, so much as reduced immigration; and they fail to offer constructive alternatives to current practices. They seem not to be for anything, just against; and they lack appreciation for the value of immigration and the contributions of recent immigrants to America. 99% of America’s people are either immigrants or descendents of people who immigrated here during the last 400 years. Americans identify with immigrants. Americans will support fair, prudent and wise immigration policies that strengthen America. They want neither a chaotic expansion that panders to special interests nor a closed door. If the opposition would offer constructive solutions they might prevail.
Their worst tactical mistake is to downplay their most compelling argument: US enforcement practices discriminate de facto against immigrants from certain races and religions and favor others. No immigrant can enter the US by plane without a valid visa, which makes illegal entry difficult and expensive from outside North America. But, due to lax border enforcement, it’s easy for Mexicans or Canadians to simply walk in or be smuggled in by truck. Our imbalanced enforcement practices favor law-breakers from our neighbors over law-abiding immigrants from Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. This geographic bias brings in its train de facto racial and religious discrimination.
The opposition lacks effective leadership; as a result, it is hopelessly fragmented. Effective leadership entails honest recognition of all aspects of a problem, the vision to develop constructive new policies and strategies, and the courage to pursue that vision despite political risks. Ultimately, the general failure to deal constructively with immigration reflects a broader failure of America’s current political leadership. Where leaders fail, special interests prevail.
20. What immigration policies can strengthen and unite America? Surprisingly, our immigration problems have relatively simple solutions once we acknowledge the facts, put everything on the table, identify special interests, and agree to fair play. Here are five steps we need to take:
- EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IMMIGRATION. Congress should apply to prospective citizens the same 14th Amendment ethical and legal standards that protect American citizens from bias and discrimination. Selection criteria should be objective, giving no nation or ethnicity disproportional immigration slots or unfair advantages.
- COMPASSION FIRST. The immigrants we put first in line should, as a rule, be those fleeing religious or political persecution in quest of freedom.
- SECURE OUR BORDERS. More fencing and patrols are needed in some areas, but the most important step is removing the employment incentive by policing those who hire illegal migrants. Stricter enforcement against employers will require forgery proof identity or social security cards; these will make it more difficult to obtain driver’s licenses and use stolen social security numbers.
- CLOSE THE ANCHOR BABY LOOPHOLE. It is irrational and immoral that by breaking our entry laws illegal aliens can gain citizenship and its array of rights and benefits ahead of conscientious immigrants who wait in line and obey our laws.
- LEGAL IMMIGRATION AND GREEN CARDS SHOULD HAVE FLEXIBILITY TO MEET THE CHANGING NEEDS OF OUR GROWING ECONOMY. Our economy does not require more people working at substandard wages and conditions, but in some areas it will need additional productive workers. They will either be admitted legally or enter illegally, the better choice is obvious.
Equal opportunity immigration will strengthen America’s commitment to human rights and dignity. It will close the loophole used to deny immigrants equal protection and to allow discriminatory immigration practices that benefit special interests. It will commit our nation to fair and equal treatment not only for all Americans but for all prospective Americans as well. It will end the denigration of Afro-Americans and Asian Americans implicit in biased immigration practices that deny immigrants from Asia and Africa a level playing field in the competition to become American citizens.
Secure borders will protect African American and Mexican American citizens. Partly because of past discrimination, citizens from these groups disproportionately occupy the bottom social, economic, and educational strata; they are the people most vulnerable to unfair wage competition. They deserve protection from having their wages undercut, opportunities narrowed, and rights as citizens debased by unfair competition from illegal entrants. Because they may possess little else, for them the value of their American citizenship is especially high and the threat of its debasement disproportionately great. They also bear the brunt of damage from crime and drug trafficking by illegal entrants, and Mexican American communities are often the most directly impacted by illegal migrants.
Equal opportunity immigration will protect minority rights. Extending 14th Amendment protections often has had unintended side benefits for gay people and other unpopular minorities who suffer discrimination. Gays are more likely to get partner immigration opportunities by broad extension of immigration rights and by banning biased practices than through demanding special gay rights, which can become needlessly confrontational. Similarly, the ready and easy way to secure more immigration slots for gays suffering persecution is to prioritize slots for all who suffer persecution.
Equal opportunity immigration can once again make America a refuge for those persecuted for their beliefs. America was founded, built, and sustained by brave men and women seeking freedom to practice their beliefs. Immigrants fleeing tyranny, whether Asian, African, European or from other New World countries, should get priority over those merely seeking better wages. Equal opportunity can best further immigration practices that elevate compassion, freedom, and the dignity of each individual above special interests.