There is no more important of a domestic issue facing America than illegal immigration, and yet we continue to avoid resolving the problem. The dilemma is that millions of people are streaming across American borders in hope of improving their lot in life, but only a few of them are going through the proper channels to become legal citizens or documented aliens. Thus, our country is full of people who for all intents and purposes do not exist –they don’t have voting rights, they don’t have proper identification, they don’t serve on juries, and they don’t pay taxes. So as our schools crumble, our freeways become worn out, and our hospital waits become longer, illegal immigrants exacerbate the problem by using these services without adding to them. Those illegals who do work are admittedly helping the economy, but they are also hurting our overall society by sapping our resources without giving back. And finally, what is scary to think about is that in this age of terrorism, an open border (or a weak border) is an invitation for terrorists to enter and plan, support, or cause chaos.
This is why I was so appalled to hear about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to allow illegal immigrants the right to a driver’s license. The plan, which will impact the 500,000 to 1 million illegal immigrants in New York, is setting off alarms in Congress and the Homeland Security Department building because of its recklessness. In fact, New York’s Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady) is calling the new plan illegal and promised to file a suit against Spitzer in hopes of stopping the program.
Advocates of Spitzers’s plan believe that allowing undocumented immigrants to get a drivers license will provide them with state identification, and bring them out of the shadows where they can pay taxes, acquire car insurance, and contribute to society. That sounds good in theory, but the fact is that if these immigrants are unwilling or unable to go through the steps to become legal citizens, why would they take the time to acquire car insurance, pay taxes, or abide by any other law? Illegal immigrants are, by definition, breaking the law everyday they are living in America. Giving them perks and catering to their needs, will only encourage them to continue breaking the law. And worse, it will encourage more immigrants to flock to America, allow terrorists the ability to get a drivers license, and put more people on the roads who are not paying for those very roads to be built and maintained.
Former Mayor of New York and current presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani echoed the majority of New Yorkers and Republican lawmakers when he called the proposal a “mistake” that would only lead to greater chaos, and create even further fraud and frustration. Giuliani admitted that states like New York and California have it difficult when it comes to creating laws against immigration because of the vast number of illegal immigrants already residing there, but still said that giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants would only make a bad situation worse. And the former mayor is right; but he is only one person speaking out about the issue.
In the middle, you have President Bush leading the charge for immigration reform by focusing on stronger border patrol, temporary-worker programs, and an eventual opportunity for the ten million plus illegal immigrants in America to earn citizenship. On the right you have key conservatives pushing for much stricter border patrols, no amnesty options, and little compassion for illegals. And on the left you have the liberal base pushing for some border patrol, complete amnesty, and a ton of support for illegals and their families.
With all these convergent ideas on immigration reform and only a year until we are voting for a new Congress and President, there is absolutely no way anything substantial will get done until 2009. Blame who you wish — and trust me, there is plenty to go around — but remember that the real loser is not some politician, but the everyday taxpayer who is paying for millions of illegal immigrants to freely attend our schools, drive on our freeways, and use our hospitals.
As a man of faith, I strongly believe that every human being deserves the right to pursue happiness, but as a taxpaying citizen, I also strongly believe that every human should do their part to make the government work. And until the American immigration policy is reformed, and we stop catering to illegal immigrants, we will continue to let millions of people reap the rewards of our system without paying their due.