BY YEH LING-LING
The United States is overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina, which created hundreds of thousands of refugees. Meanwhile, oil prices have skyrocketed, with no end in sight. Although some immigrants are assets, is it wise to continue to allow millions of foreign-born people to enter this country yearly who need jobs, require social services and consume energy?
Immigration advocates claim that illegal aliens take jobs that “Americans won’t do.” The truth of the matter is that many low-skilled unemployed Americans fear job competition: Those in Texas are reportedly worried about the influx of evacuees coming from New Orleans! In addition, the U.S. still has millions of unemployed and underemployed low-skilled Americans and able-bodied welfare recipients. Why not give them incentives to take those jobs?
Open-border promoters also claim that immigration is needed to boost the economy. Last December, Barron’s reported that the underground economy in this country was fueled largely by “the nation’s swelling ranks of low-wage illegal immigrants” and would “soon pass $1 trillion.” Furthermore, most low-skilled legal and illegal immigrant workers have low incomes. Even if they pay taxes, the revenues they generate are not sufficient to offset the cost of educating their children — at an average of over $7000 per child per year — let alone the cost of other infrastructure.
Senators Kennedy, Kerry and other American leaders must understand that our homeland cannot be secure as long as our own borders remain porous. Last year alone, according to Time Magazine, 3 million illegal immigrants entered the United States, even though Al Qaeda has reportedly recruited smugglers south of our border to help with its operations. This May, scores of illegal immigrants were arrested working at sensitive sites such as petrochemical refineries, nuclear plants and air-cargo facilities.
Furthermore, well over a quarter of our federal prison inmates are illegal aliens who committed crimes here. The notoriously violent El Salvadoran gang, MS13, is spreading its activities and killing Americans in many states at an alarming rate. Murders, rapes, and robberies committed throughout the U.S. by foreign-born criminals are reported every week in the news. Tucson-sector border patrol agents alone have been assaulted at least 195 times since last October.
If President Bush and Congress are serious about safeguarding the well-being of all legal residents, they should first adopt a new law to drastically reduce legal immigration, at least temporarily, to a level that would not further burden our infrastructure and energy problems. An immigration moratorium would allow Americans to better focus on addressing the many pressing issues in New Orleans and other areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina. A moratorium on legal immigration would also allow our law enforcement agents to concentrate on rooting out terrorists operating on U.S. soil and intercepting them at our borders and ports of entry.
To effectively curb illegal immigration, elected officials in Washington, D.C. should send a strong and unequivocal message that no amnesty will be granted to existing and future illegal immigrants, in addition to enforcing existing immigration laws. Furthermore, additional border patrol agents should be hired, as recommended by the September 11 Commission. Congress should also adopt new legislation making it illegal to grant any benefits whatsoever to illegal immigrants. Children born here of illegal-immigrant parents should be denied automatic citizenship. (Few illegal immigrants would want to stay in the U.S., or even come here, if they could not survive economically in the U.S. and if their families would receive no benefits whatsoever).
Supporters of the Kennedy-McCain defacto amnesty bill should be reminded that awarding illegal aliens with benefits, such as the amnesty passed in 1986 legalizing 3 million immigrants, will only encourage higher illegal immigration. Indeed, last December the U.S. illegal immigrant population swelled to 18 to 20 million, according to Bear Sterns’ economist Robert Justich’s estimate. Mass immigration is also adversely impacting our low-skilled workers the most, considering that the native poor have to compete with newcomers for jobs.
Americans must realize that the U.S. is declining very rapidly. Last year, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. exceeded $150 billion. The Chinese government also holds $190 billion of our national debt. America still has over 30 million Americans living in poverty. In addition, America is now the greatest debtor nation on earth, with the highest budget and trade deficits in human history. And we don’t have an unlimited supply of energy for unlimited newcomers. American leaders’ primary duty is to first improve life for all Americans. They should do so by immediately adopting the above-mentioned measures.
Yeh Ling-Ling, herself an immigrant, is Executive Director of Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, a national non-profit based in Oakland, CA.