The big deception on immigration

Published 1:53 am Monday, May 28, 2007

By By Tray Smith
Last week, President Bush and Congressional officials reached what they have titled a "comprehensive" compromise on immigration reform. But if by "comprehensive" they mean a bill that solves all three of the problems that the immigration issue confronts us with, being: 1) the large number of illegal immigrants already here 2) the large number of immigrants who want to come here and 3) how to protect our border so that future immigrants will be required to come here legally, the "comprehensive" label is little more than a deceptive gimmick, as Congress has not shown much interest in handling the third problem.
And without solving that third problem, everything else Congress might attempt is meaningless. Sure, they may create a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in our country. They may create a guest worker program for future workers to come to our country and stay on a temporary basis. But as long as large herds of people can cross the boarder unrestricted, without notifying the government of their status, these people are not going to bother going through the complicated process of claiming citizenship or applying for a guest worker card. They have no respect for our laws now, and unless we demonstrate the consequences of not abiding by those laws, they will not have any respect for them after a guest worker program is created.
Although most border security measures will not be able to withstand the pressure on the boarder if there is no legal way for temporary workers to enter this country, without border security, a temporary worker will have no incentive to enter this country legally. The programs complement each other. That is why it is important that we have an immigration reform plan that is not improperly labeled comprehensive, but that truthfully tackles all of the problems posed by our border crisis.
Of course, Congress has no interest in enacting such a plan. Out of 700 miles of border fencing authorized by Congress last year, only two miles have been built. That is a disturbing indication of where boarder security is on this administrations priority list. And the so-called border security elements of the new bill authorize only 370 miles of new fencing, 330 miles less than what Congress authorized only a year ago.
The bill does contain a new employee verification system that will aid businesses checking the identity of their workers. But our Constitution gives the federal government the power and responsibility of enforcing border security, not employers. And terrorists who try to exploit our lack of border security in order to carry out an attack will not likely be applying to clean rooms at the local Days Inn. Employer sanctions are not a bad idea in and of themselves, but depending on them as our first line of defense against unlawful immigrants means that we will continue to go without adequate border security. In 1986, Congress passed similar legislation that included amnesty for all of the three million illegal aliens currently in the country and placed sanctions on employers who hired illegal workers. Twenty years later, those aliens have been naturalized, yet our illegal immigrant population has grown by 400 percent.
Those 12 million people are now living here, using our roads, hospitals and schools at the expense of our taxpayers while many of them do not pay taxes. If they become citizens, they will have access to all of the portions of the welfare state that we cannot even afford for our own people now. They have not, and likely will not, assimilate into our culture, as seen when they speak their native Spanish and wave the Mexican flags at protests around the country. Congress is preparing to legalize the status of millions of people who got to this country by disregarding our laws, what is going to make them respect the laws when they are citizens?
This is not a matter of racism or bigotry. It is not a matter of being cruel. But we cannot consider ourselves a sovereign country if we have open borders, allowing anyone to just come live here, without learning our language, assimilating into our culture, or going through any kind of legal process. More importantly, we cannot consider ourselves safe from terrorist attacks as long as we have such drastic gaps in our border security apparatus and identification systems.
But rest assured, we are told, because Congress is putting border security first. I guess that was the Senate's guiding principle on Thursday when they voted down, 49-48, a proposal by Senator Norm Coleman that would have allowed government authorities to inquire about someone's immigration status if they had reason to believe the individual was in the country illegally. Why would they have voted for that? There is no need to inquire about a subject's immigration status when you are not concerned about border security.
That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a sophomore at ECHS and former intern in the Riley administration. He can be reached for comment at

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox