Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Finally, a Voice of Reason in the Senate

Last Friday, Ron Wyden, a US Senator from Oregon, told the audience at a town hall meeting in Douglas County, Oregon, that he had the solution to America's illegal alien problem.
...Wyden suggested setting a date whereafter anyone who was in the United States without proper documentation would be subject to criminal prosecution.
nder his plan, foreigners who had lived and worked in the country before that date would be given the opportunity to "earn" American citizenship. That would involve showing they had maintained a good work record and that they had not been involved in criminal activity, Wyden said. He said he opposes blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Aliens residing in the US without permission or who enter the US illegally have broken US law. Such individuals are criminals by definition. As a sovereign state, the US has the right to determine who may and who may not enter and remain on its territory. Senator Wyden's proposal thus addresses the problem correctly. However, unless special legislation were to be introduced into law radically streamlining the process by which illegal immigrants, once arrested, can be swiftly deported, it would only result in the US court system quickly becoming choked by millions of deportation cases. Organizations that support and encourage illegal immigration - the ACLU, Hispanic advocacy organizations, etc. - would move to appeal every lower court decision and contest every case. The litigation would be endless.

Unfortunately, Senator Wyden also conceded that there was little support in Congress for his proposal, which would certainly meet with stiff opposition from the Bush administration, whose official policy appears to be the erasure of the US-Mexican border. It is interesting to note that Senator Wyden is a Democrat. His conversion as a foe of illegal immigration follows that of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), who has recently called for strong measures to deal with the problem. If the Democrats can agree on a common anti-illegal immigration stance, it could provide them with their first truly popular policy to employ against the GOP and win seats back in Congress.

Senator Wyden's sensible proposal comes on the heels of a study by the Pew Hispanic Center which indicated that there are as many as 11 million illegal immigrants in the US today, the majority of those from Mexico. Oregon's News Review, reporting Sentator Wyden's proposal, felt obliged to note the following
In conversations in coffee shops across the United States, no one says they're in favor of illegal immigration, Wyden said. However, in the real world, a large number of farm jobs, restaurant positions and other low-paying service jobs are filled by illegal immigrants.
What the News Review reporter failed to note is that the presence of large numbers of illegal aliens willing to work for virtually any salary has driven down the wages of such menial jobs to the point that only illegal aliens are willing to take them. The real victims of illegal immigration are Americans in the lower socioeconomic strata. They have seen the wages for the jobs available to them collapse over the past two decades as illegal immigrants replace them at substantially lower wages. The easy availability of cheap labor may also be stifling US productivity and technological innovation by removing the necessity for US companies to develop new technology to compensate for a lack of workers.

Senator Wyden's plan seeks to address the double standard many Americans seem willing to tolerate.
"We say we're against illegal immigration, but we look the other way the rest of the day," Wyden told the audience of about 100 people who attended the forum. "With my plan, we'd no longer have this two-faced policy on illegal immigration."
The Portland Democrat said he would also like to see the nation improve its monitoring of people in this country on nonimmigration visas. He said the United States has done a poor job of "tracking the Mohammed Attas of the world."

The leader of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, Atta was the hijacker who flew a jetliner into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. He obtained a six-month nonimmigrant visa to enter the United States legally, but no one tracked his whereabouts as he moved from place to place and attended flight school.
I's obvious that current immigration and tracking policies aren't working, Wyden said. However, he's not sure he could win support for his idea.
I don't know whether Congress would go for it. I don't know if the country would accept it," he said.
Most Americans are already painfully aware of the real cost of illegal immigration. They see it every day when they look around at their towns and cities and see the country they grew up in changing before them. The understand the danger when they hear Spanish spoken more often than English even in Kansas and watch Hispanic activists demand that illegal aliens receive taxpayer funded benefits. Popular opinion polls have consistently found that Americans are strongly against illegal immigration and would support virtually any action that would mitigate the invasion of the US.

Public support isn't the problem. The problem lies in Washington where entrenched political interests obstruct any action. Large corporations enjoy the low wages they can pay illegal immigrants, lowering prices and driving up profits, while varioius advocacy organizations - Hispanic and leftist rights groups - see large numbers of illegal aliens as bolstering their numbers and power. Worse, the current administration apparently believes that a rising Hispanic population will ultimately help Republicans at the ballot box. Thus the desires of Americans are readily cast aside by the political interests of Washington power politicians. Only when Americans make it clear to their representatives that they've had enough and start vocally demanding change, will Washington move to address the issue.


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