Last week I sent President Bush a letter, co-signed by 62 House colleagues, asking that during his upcoming discussions with Mexican President Vicente Fox, he “make clear this nation’s determination to establish and enforce an immigration policy that celebrates our immigrant heritage, secures our borders, draws a bright line between legal and illegal aliens, and rejects any and all forms of amnesty.”
Judging by his remarks during a recent visit to Arizona, it is more important than ever that President Fox hear precisely that message.
Fox sugarcoats his countrymen’s illegal invasion of Arizona and the United States by mislabeling it a “migration.” He openly encourages more Mexicans to head north, not only breaking our immigration laws, but also trampling the spirit of citizenship and assimilation those laws were designed to foster. He would have us reward lawbreakers with amnesty and dual citizenship. Yet he ignores the culture of violent crime surrounding illegal immigration that puts innocent people in the crossfire, as happened during the I-10 shootout.
Why this blatant disregard for our laws and the human costs of illegal immigration? Mexico’s economy is hooked on the $14.5 billion in annual remittances from Mexicans working in the United States, more than Mexico earns from tourism or foreign investment – and perhaps economically more important than Mexico’s state-owned oil industry.
At the same time, a perfect storm has developed in the United States to increase the tide of illegal workers. American business is hooked on cheap labor – a perfect equilibrium of illegal supply and illegal demand. And U.S. labor unions see illegal aliens as the best hope to grow their shrinking membership.
Overlooked in this greed-driven orgy is the devastating toll that hordes of illegal workers take on our economy and our society.
An “off-the-books” pool of exploited, illegal laborers is creating a lower rung on the economic ladder. Some argue that illegals perform jobs Americans won’t do. It is more accurate to say illegals perform jobs for substandard pay that Americans would do for fair wages and worker protections.
Then there is the $20 billion estimated annual cost associated with health care, education, social services and the crime that illegal immigration breeds. Runaway illegal immigration leads to higher taxes, higher spending, higher crime, lower wages and increased unemployment for American workers.
It is an equal drain on our culture. Americans are rightly concerned about the balkanizing effect of an estimated 700,000 illegal immigrants crossing our borders annually with little or no aspiration for citizenship, for learning our language, or for understanding our culture. Indeed, many pro-immigrant groups oppose the very notion of citizenship. Meanwhile, bureaucrats at the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services are attempting to alter the Oath of Allegiance administered to new citizens by weakening the charge to uphold and be faithful to the Constitution and our laws.
On a practical level in a post-9/11 world, border security is homeland security and it must be taken seriously. True, most illegal aliens come to work; it is also true that terrorists and drug smugglers can cross an unsecured border for more sinister purposes:
- An organized effort to smuggle Middle Easterners in from Mexico has been uncovered.
- The raid on 61 Wal-Mart stores coast-to-coast resulted in the arrests of 245 illegal aliens from 28 countries.
- Illegals have been found working at some of our most sensitive military installations.
- And 80 percent of the cocaine and half the heroin consumed in the United States come through Mexico.
Finally, we know if immigration laws are violated without consequence, the rule of law in this nation will be undermined. Illegal means illegal, a fundamental distinction that must not be lost because politically correct elites see illegal aliens as “undocumented workers.”
Immigration reform is being stymied by an unholy alliance of big business, big labor, Democrats and Republicans cynically looking to woo Latino voters, and left-wing extremists out to alter the essential character of America.
Caught in the middle is a strong majority of Americans fed up with illegal immigration and demanding action. President Bush’s upcoming meeting with President Fox is a good place to begin the debate, which is why we wrote our letter.