Immigration and the Law:
It's Pretty Basic
©2003 Sharon Hughes
Firstly, because one of the primary distinguishing marks of America is that she is a melting pot of people from every country in the world, who understand that our bonds are not in our common country of origin, race, or traditions, but in the ideal that all men should be free. Our Constitution upholds this.
Secondly, because of this, America has always held open arms to the "huddled masses yearning to be free," and we reject no one based on color or creed or nationality...all are welcome.
Thirdly, we understand, as Ronald Reagan said, "A nation without borders is not a nation," and therefore we have laws that govern our borders which require those wanting to enter our "land of the free" to do so respecting our laws. We take American residency and citizenship seriously.
Millions of people are attracted to the values of liberty which are a reality in America, and because we are a prosperous nation, they are willing to leave their homeland to enter New York Harbor or the Golden Gate. As a result, the U.S. accepts more immigrants and refugees annually than all other countries in the world combined.
Unfortunately, as every nation knows, we can only absorb so many at a time. Jobs, schools, housing, health care, are all affected. Too many immigrants entering in at one time puts a strain on the our infrastructure, and wise legislators understand the balance between the welfare of current citizens and the welcoming in of new ones, and thus we have immigration laws.
This being the case, there are those who do not want to go through the process our laws require, and they enter our land, (or try to) illegally. The exact figures are not known, but estimates are that the growing numbers of illegal immigrants in America equals the population of Florida each year. Imagine...a new Florida added each year!
Here in California we have had a known increase of 60% in illegal residents since 1996, bringing the number to approximately 2.3 percent, or 1/4 of the country's total illegal aliens. And it could be more because our border patrol say they catch only one in four who cross the border illegally, and they caught over one million last year...so that would be four million in California alone.
I understand that 29 percent of the federal prisoner population are illegal immigrants and that this figure would be much higher if state prisoners were counted because less than eight percent of the nation's prison population are in federal prisons. With Americans paying between 35-50% in taxes depending on the state, the economic impact on taxpayers is a valid concern. How much of the taxes we pay are for the added expense of illegal aliens, and how much will taxes have to increase in order to pay for a continuing increase of illegals in the future? Ten years ago approximately 300,000 illegal alien children attended California public schools at an annual cost to California taxpayers of $2 billion. Of course, that number has only grown. Today, California spends $30 million a day more than it takes in in revenues...who knows how much of this is for illegal alien costs?
You see, the keyword here is...illegal. If those who want to come here, obey our laws (assuming we enforce those laws), things would certainly be different. Then, perhaps we would do a better job of handling those immigrants who are here legally waiting for the execution of their papers or citizenship without having to continually get extensions, year after year.
Here are two fresh examples legal immigrants encounter...
A young, hard-working, European woman named Rachael. She stood alongside hundreds of other patriotic Americans every Friday night on the streets of Santa Rosa during the Support our Troops/Liberate Iraq rallies a few months back, cheering with all her heart, and so desiring to become an American citizen. For her, the process took several years and $3,000 in personal expenses by the time she finally was able to be sworn in. Yes, we had a celebration, although colored somewhat by the fiasco we watched her go through, not because of a problem with her eligibility, but because of bureaucratic red tape.
The other example is of a Changing Worldviews listener who sent me an email just this morning regarding her experience. Let me share some of her story: "For the past two Saturdays I have tuned in to your program and found it worth tuning into. Your discussion about the illegal immigrants with Rick Oltman was illuminating; I have followed O'Reilly's TV talk show crusade against this same problem. I would like to listen to a discussion in the future, about another INS incompetence that affects legal immigrants like myself. I entered the US with legal papers in November 2001; the immigration officer at the San Francisco airport processed me, stamped my Philippine passport with a temporary approval of legal status and work permit, informing me my green card would arrive in 3 months. One year later, as the stamped permit was expiring, I still had not received the green card. Went to San Francisco to follow it up, I was told they lost my documents but not to worry, they'd send me a green card in 3 months. That was supposed to be March 2003. To this day, I have not received the card; sent a registered letter following it up; no reply...San Francisco INS is a nightmare to go through; you line up outside starting at 6am; follow a zigzag line to get to a booth to get a number; wait for 3 hours or longer to get to another booth to make your inquiry. The two times I went there I would leave at 3pm, after waiting all day. All phone numbers are computerized replies, you never reach a live voice."
She went on to ask a legitimate question: "What do we legal immigrants have to do? Am I an isolated case? Meanwhile do I just keep waiting and getting stamped extensions on my passport? My work status is affected tremendously. Can Mr. Oltman or anyone give me an answer to my predicament? I don't know where to turn to."
Yes, immigration is a strong value in the hearts of Americans, and because of conditions and situations as those mentioned above, immigration is one of the greatest concerns of Americans today. We will continue this debate on our radio show and continue to encourage voters to hold our legislators accountable. This is a problem that will not go away by itself.
One thing we can do is contact our state legislators and tell them to vote NO on SB60 which, if passed, would allow illegals to obtain California driver's licenses. This would make it extremely difficult to control certain activities such as voting by illegal aliens, which is already a problem. Not for the liberals who are pushing for this, but for our entire process.