Recently Republican Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado formally announced his candidacy for United States 2008 presidential race. The stated focus of his upcoming campaign? Illegal immigration. Now it goes without saying that Tancredo has absolutely no chance to become America’s next president, but I must admit that his platform will certainly be interesting. Because no matter if you’re a farmer in California, an engineer in New York, a teacher in Kansas, or the Governor of Texas, you know that illegal immigration is a major problem in this country.
Many people who write me, call into my show, or see me on the street ask what happened to the immigration reform discussion. They wonder aloud whether last year’s debate on immigration was just infamous Washington rhetoric in an election year or actually legitimate political discussion. I usually respond that it was just a bit of both.
Like our healthcare and public school systems, our immigration system is broken. And like healthcare and public education, it’s just too important to ignore. President George Bush stated as much during his visit through Mexico earlier last month. While meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Bush pledged to try to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Bush knows, like most of us do, that trying is not enough — Congress must reform our immigration laws.
Whether you’re a loving liberal or a compassionate conservative, you have to admit that the idea of immigration has changed in the last 100 years. It’s been well publicized by immigration supporters that without migrants, America would never have become the world power that it is. And I don’t disagree with that. But times have changed. We are now a country with over 300 million people. We now are a country under attack by terrorists looking to cross our borders everyday. We are now a country with so many illegal immigrants that taxpayers are paying $70 billion per year to deal with them. We are now a country that must reform our immigration laws in order to protect our homeland, reduce our budget and create freedom and equality for all citizens.
Remember, illegal immigrants are undocumented and thus do not pay taxes. So whether or not they are working in a productive job, they are not financially contributing to society. They are not paying tax money to repair the roads they drive on, enlarge the hospitals they use, build the prisons that protect them, improve the schools their children attend, add to the welfare program that feeds them, or clean the air they breathe. And then there are the illegal immigrants who do not work and survive through criminal activity. According to the Los Angeles Times, 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal immigrants, 75% of the people on the Los Angeles most wanted list are illegal aliens, and 95% of warrants for murders in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that half of all gang members in Los Angeles are likely illegal immigrants. These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who, like Tom Tancredo, is also considering a run for president based on the immigration platform — recently had some scathing comments regarding America’s immersion laws. Speaking to the National Federation of Republican Women, Gingrich said, “The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Gingrich that English must be the mandatory national language. If not, then immigrants who never learn English properly can be exploited by corrupt lawyers and businesses that use the language barrier to cheat them. Worse still, is in the case of an emergency, when immigrants cannot properly express the problem because they lack basic English language skills. There is no other place in the world that does not mandate that the native language is the official way of communication. The simple fact is that we all must be able to understand each other, and in this country that must mean using English.
While America is the land of immigrants, it should never become the land of illegal immigrants. Congress must take President Bush’s words to heart and pass comprehensive reform on this issue. And it must be done quickly. America is losing too much money paying for illegal aliens. And worse, America is in danger when we have an unsecured border and millions of undocumented people roaming the country. We should all contact our congressmen and encourage them to bring the immigration issue back on the table. Although it will be a lively debate with much heated discourse, one can only hope that our lawmakers will do the right thing and recommend new immigration laws. For although we respect the right of every immigrant to become a legal American, we demand that they do not skirt our laws and live here illegally.