The Immigration Debate: Part 1
The immigration issue is a lot like Social Security. It's an issue that until recently most politicians of both parties paid very little attention to it other than tinkering around policy edges and offering occasional election year lip service. Like Social Security however, each day the problem grows worse and the hope of a solution more dim.
Each of the two major political parties has problems with this issue. For the Democrats it is their support in the minority communities and their attempt to pander to Hispanic voters, just as they pander to all other ethnic groups. Like a guy who tries to play the field with several women at once, it soon grows old to one (or all) of the women involved. This is to say nothing of their problem with the big labor unions, which tend to see illegal workers as cheap competition in the workplace and a force for depressing wages.
The Republican's problem is their support in the business community (and the money that business contributes to the party) and the fact the big business has a complete lack of appetite for any serious illegal immigration enforcement. This being for the exact opposite reasons that labor unions would favor it cheap labor.
Even the terminology of the debate has evolved to soften the harsh realities of the issue. Most notably the term "illegal alien" morphed into "illegal immigrant" and most recently became "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented worker". The media and both political parties have played this game.
It seems rather obvious to point out that a country that cannot control its borders will not be a country for very long. A nation's culture must have time to assimilate its immigrants, rather than be eclipsed and risk upsetting the social order. Such a thing would lead to (and has in the past) an outright revolt by the current population to all immigration.
Given present realities, we may as well have no immigration policy at all. Currently over 10% of all births in the United States are to illegal aliens a total of over 380,000 each year. Under current law these children then get citizenship via birthright, providing their mothers with an array of government benefits funded by the US taxpayer. A recent Mexican public opinion poll found that almost half the population of that country said that they would try to go the United States if they thought they could.
We currently have almost three times as many illegal aliens in this country as in the mid-1980's. While it is true that these massive increases in the number of illegal aliens has not resulted in large increases in unemployment, that is not to say that they wont should the US economy take a substantial downturn. When the next downturn comes, this will no doubt exacerbate unemployment and the cost of government unemployment benefits, as only legal citizens would apply. Meanwhile many lower wage jobs that they could temporarily transition to would likely be taken by illegals.
On the frontlines, U.S. border states are being hit particularly hard with criminal activity, illegal drugs, kidnappings and murders related to illegal aliens. This is to say nothing of personal property damage and the costs to the criminal justice system. California alone has over 30,000 "undocumented" felons in its prison system. In Arizona, some estimates have it that 80% of "new" crime along the border areas is committed by illegals.
The issue of border security is an instance where national security policy and our immigration policy should coincide. From a Republican party standpoint this would be good politics as well as good policy, and serve to help make the nation safer and more stable. And in the post 9/11 world, safety is a life or death issue. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency has gone so far as to testify publicly in congressional hearings that he fully believes it is possible for a nuclear weapon to be driven across our border and exploded in one of our cities.
Illegal immigration is now no longer just a border issue and it's not just a national issue. It's now a "local" issue all across the United States which explains why politicians have finally begun to pay more attention to it. Local communities have to deal with the consequences, financially and in terms of crime, education, prisons, healthcare, etc.. Perhaps this is why, for the first time since the Gallup poll began taking American public opinion on the subject, a majority feel that immigration is a bad thing rather than something good. Clearly they're being influenced by their experiences at the local level.
The problem is increasing at an alarming rate along with the increase in the mobility of populations and the ease of travel. The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that in the 1980's approximately 140,000 illegals crossed the border each year. Today that number is 700,000 a figure which sounds more like an invasion than a policy problem.
In light of this reality, the very notion of US citizenship and its value is being diminished. In many ways, the only benefit not afforded illegals that is still retained by citizens is the right to vote. One doesn't have to try too hard to imagine this country's social do-gooders clamoring for that next.