Politics & Policy

The Illegal-Immigration Threat

A top homeland-security priority.

Illegal immigration threatens homeland security. And many politicians are on the wrong side of the issue.

Polls show a wide divergence between the American people and their “leaders” on this issue. According to a recent survey, 70 percent of the public wants to control illegal immigration, compared to only 22 percent of leaders from Congress, business, labor, religious, and academic groups.

Citizens understand that if you don’t know who’s coming into the country, like illegal immigrants, then you don’t know what’s coming into the country, like terrorist weapons.

What will serve as the alarm clock that startles elected representatives into action? Will it be another terrorist attack involving those who violate our immigration laws? Will it be that over 20 percent of all federal prisoners are illegal immigrants?

Will it be the cost to taxpayers of furnishing education, health care, and welfare to those who shouldn’t be in the country? Will it be the lost wages of citizens and legal immigrants who have to compete with cheap labor?

Will it be the government contracts, set-asides, jobs, and college-admission preferences that immigrants receive as minorities? Will the U.S. (one of only two countries in the world) continue to automatically grant citizenship to the offspring of illegal immigrants?

The Census Bureau discovered that seven million people, far more than estimated, live in the U.S. illegally. Since only people who are here year-round are counted, the actual number, including those temporarily here, probably equals twice that amount, or fourteen million illegal residents.

Enough people to populate America’s three largest cities — New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago — have broken our immigration laws. And we don’t know who they are, where they live, or what they are doing. As long as we have unsecure borders, we are inviting dangerous people to enter.

Ironically, some propose giving illegal immigrants amnesty; others propose “guest work” programs that lead to “regularization,” or amnesty. Of course such proposals, if implemented, would attract still more illegal immigrants who hope to take advantage of these or similar future programs.

Before any changes are made to immigration policy, we must first stop the problem of illegal immigration from becoming worse. That means enforcing current laws, not sending mixed signals that encourage foreigners to cross our borders illegally.

Actually, it’s not a mixed message we’re sending, it’s an advertisement in bright neon lights that reads: “Get Across The Border and You’re Here To Stay.”

Why hesitate to come, or worry about getting caught once you get here?

Laws that penalize employers for hiring illegal immigrants are seldom enforced.

A person has to be caught sneaking across the border as many as ten times before they are charged with breaking immigration laws.

Unless an illegal immigrant is convicted of a serious crime, it’s unlikely they ever will be deported.

Fraudulent birth certificates and Social Security cards are cheap and easy to obtain.

Some states provide illegal aliens with drivers licenses; many businesses accept Mexican identification cards as proof of legal residence in the U.S.

The dangers posed by porous borders and illegal immigration are not going away. The longer we wait to enforce all immigration laws, the worse the situation becomes, and that’s not good for Americans’ security.

Lamar Smith (R., Tex.), serves on the Homeland Security Select Committee and on the Immigration Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.


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