THE CONTINUING PROBLEM OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
& NEED FOR REFORM OF U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY
By Thomas G. Tancredo
I was compelled to come tonight to share an email message I received just a couple of days ago -- a message from a lady by the name of Rhonda Rose. Ms. Rose speaks compellingly about a problem, a set of problems, that she perceives in her area. And I think she is not unique in this regard. I think she speaks for many Americans, in fact, millions of Americans. So I thought I would start tonight by sharing this particular email message with my colleagues. It says:
I am sorry, but I do not know what "DES" stands for.
Ms. Rose continues:
Now, I think that Ms. Rose's situation is dire, but I think in many ways she says what many people feel. They feel, in a sense, disenfranchised. They feel that they are losing their own country. They feel that they cannot look to their own government for support or for help.
Night after night, I come on the House floor and I bring to the attention of the U.S. House of Representatives stories of people who live on the border in Arizona, Texas, and California. I talk about the fact that these people are in many ways homeland heroes. Their stories are not all that dissimilar from Ms. Rose's. Their lives have been essentially destroyed. Their businesses, homes, and ranches have been overtaken by illegal aliens coming through by the hundreds of thousands, illegal aliens who are vandalixing and destroying property, threatening and attacking citizens.
Law-abiding, tax-paying U.S. citizens living near our southern border are being victimized by U.S. immigration policy and by the great horde of illegal aliens coming across the border. And these law-abiding, tax-paying Americans do not know why they are being victimized. They are asking:
So, these victimized U.S. citizens get frustrated, as you would, and as I would.
They write to their Congressman, and they talk to their neighbors, but they see no change. They wonder why they bother to write to their Congressman and talk to their neighbors about the situation, why they bother to seek change and obtain justice for themselves. They wonder what is happening when they read polls that show that 70 percent of Americans are essentially on their side. And I have to say to Rhonda Rose that 70 percent of this country looks at this situation, listens to your story and is empathetic and believes that some change should be made, but maybe 25 percent of this Congress feels the same way. And I do not know who in the administration feels this way. But not enough people here feel this way.
And so we end up with a system of immigration policy making and implementation that is unresponsive to the American people. Hence, public anger grows, and popular resentment grows, and mass frustration grows. The discontent is growing because every day people see manifestations of the worsening immigration mess. They pick up the newspaper and they read that another state in the Union has just decided to give illegal aliens driver's licenses. They see that foreign governments can distribute cards -- matricula consular cards -- to their nationals illegally residing in the U.S.A. Law-abiding, tax-paying Americans see that states and cities are agreeing to accept these cards for a variety of services, that illegals can open bank accounts with the matricular consular cards, that they can obtain social services at the expense of law-abiding American taxpayers, and that they can even get driver's licenses.
How does an illegal alien get one of these matricula consular cards? He gets them from a Mexican consulate located here in the U.S.A..And what does one have to give the consulate in order to obtain the card? One has to give the consulate some documentation that says the applicant is a Mexican citizen. While the applicant is not required to state whether he is here in the U.S.A. legally or illegally, it is obvious that everyone who needs one of these cards is here illegally.
I want to repeat that. Every single person here in the United States of America who needs a matricula consular is here illegally. If an alien is here legally, he has a document that the the United States government has given him. He has a visa, a green card, or, at least, a stamp on his passport. He has no need for a matricula consular card.
An illegal alien, on the other hand, does need a matricula consular card. An illegal alien in this country can obtain this particular card and, with it, can obtain all of the other documents needed to become, in effect a citizen or a resident legal alien.
This system of immigration policy making and implementation is, in reality, a stealth amnesty program for illegal aliens, a program that rewards aliens who enter the U.S.A. illegally, thereby encouraging others to come in illegally. American citizens recognize that. When they read it in the newspaper, they know something is wrong. They know something is wrong when an official state governing body agrees to designate illegal aliens residing in the state as being qualified for in-state tuition, giving the illegals a state governmental subsidy for which law-abiding, tax-paying citizens have to pay. American citizens know something is wrong when they hear that their jails are being filled by people who are here illegally and that the costs attributable to that particular phenomenon are enormous.
American citizens know something is wrong when they read or hear reports about people coming across the border by the hundreds, by the thousands, aliens coming without our permission. We do not know who these people are, and we do not know why they are coming. Surely, most of them are coming for relatively benign reasons, coming, say, to get better jobs, or othewise seek better lives. Those are the reason that compel most people to come to this country, the same reason my grandparents came, and perhaps yours. Among them, however, are people who are coming to do very bad things to the United States of America, and we allow this to happen.
American citizens ask why we are allowing this to happen. Why? They ask me all the time. I get all kinds of emails, letters and calls into my office, and they ask: Why, Congressman? Why is this happening? Why is it my government has so little respect for my citizenship and for the fact I try my best to do things the right way?
Here is a faxed letter I received from one of my constituents, a lady by the name of Linda Hendricks. She says:
Now, this is a form distributed by the U.S. government for a service that is supposed to be for American citizens: Medicaid. This is supposed to be the program that we have constructed to provide medical services to people who are financially unable to provide it for themselves.
Ms. Hendricks goes on to say:
I just cannot fathom the damage that is being done here. I cannot imagine how these things are not taking a toll on the way American citizens look at their government. Believe me, these two messages from citizens are not unique in any way. These two messages are representative of the thousands of letters, emails, and telephone calls that I receive almost weekly. The hardships and deprivations imposed on citizens by the immigration mess and the government's allowing it to continue are happening everywhere in the U.S,A.
Looking at this deplorable situation reminds me that there is a form which you can obtain by going to the Internet website of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The form is a application for a temporary visitor visa. If an alien wants to come into the U.S.A., he can go onto the BICE website, pull up the form, and fill it out himself.
One set of questions on that visa form is as follows:
I do not know who answers yes, but evidently some people do, because the next thing underneath the particular set of questions is a little asterisk, followed by a statement which says do not worry, if you answer yes to any of these questions, such answer will not result in your being denied entrance into the United States.
How can that be true? Well, it happened because U.S. Senator Teddy Kennedy, decided that just because someone was on a U.S government list of members of groups designated as terrorist organizations should not be sufficient cause to deny him entrance into the U.S.A. Senator Kennedy based his decision on the fact that he had acquaintances who were members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), that they might be on our terrorist list, and that they might want to come into the United States.
Well the American people are of aware this situation. The American people see it, understand it, and are frustrated by it. They are frustrated by the fact that their own government will look the other way when aliens come into this country illegally, obtain matricula consular cards, and open up bank accounts. The American people are frustrated when the U.S. Treasury Department promulgates rules saying that banks should be allowed to accept the matricula consular for the purpose of identification. The people are especially frustrated when they realize that the Treasury Department, in promulgating these new rules, abrogated banking rules previously promulgated under the PATRIOT Act and designed to tighten up on banking regulations, so that identity theft and money-laundering activities would be minimized. Realizing that was the reason why the previous, tighter regulations were promulgated, the people are asking how can it be that the government is now saying that illegal aliens can do this, that an illegal can take this card given to him by a foreign government and use it for the purpose of opening a bank account? People look at the situation and wonder what is going on within our government.
People may hasve heard that, not too long ago, officials representing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S Department of Homeland Security appeared before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and testified that accepting the matricula consular card for purposes of identification and opening bank accounts was absolutely a very bad idea, and that illegal aliens and other criminal elements would, in fact, take advantage of a documernt of which we cannot begin to guarantee the validity. The FBI and Homeland Security spokesmen testified that we should not accept the matricula consular card, that no agency of the federal government should accept it. Despite this testimony from the Justice and Homeland Security Departments, we have another agency of the U.S. government, the Department of the Treasury promulgating rules telling banks it is okay to accept the matricula consular card. People can get confused by that.
I believe it is simply a matter of pure politics, and the mother's milk of politics, campaign contributions -- campaign contributions from large corporations through their executive officers who package up their contributions. Through banks and other big contributors to both major political parties, we find ourselves in a situation where it difficult to do the things necessary to protect our own country.
We also, of course, fear the political ramifications of doing something to stop or even minimize illegal immigration. We find that this is a politically embarrassing thing. Even to bring this up on the floor of the House makes people uncomfortable. Because of the political implications, they would prefer that we not address this issue.
When we recognize that, on one side of the aisle of each chamber of Congress, the Democratic Party sees massive immigration, both illegal and legal, as a source of future political support (more Democratic voters), on the other side of the aisle, the Republican Party sees massive immigration as a source of cheap labor, and the the President and his administration see massive immigration as a potential source of voters for them, a wedge issue that they can use in the next presidential election campaign, the members of Congress can see why it is difficult to actually get anything done that is in accord with America's vital national interests.
That is what we have to tell people when constituents call and ask how can it be that this country has essentially decided to abandon its borders, surrender its sovereignty, and attack the concept of citizenship. That is truly what is happening to us. All of the things that I have mentioned here, all of these things that are happening in states and cities and here at the federal governmental level -- cities that are declaring themselves to be sanctuary cities, cities which pass regulations telling the police department not to provide information to the Bureau of Immigration Control and Enforcement or to accept information from them, cities that say they will accept the matricula consular card for the provision of services, states that declare that they will give illegal aliens driver's licenses, states that declare that they will provide higher education benefits to people who are here illegally, and the actions of the federal government previously discussed -- all of these things combined are an attack on the concept of citizenship. What the value of possessing U.S. citizenship if aliens have all of these benefits and are here illegally, and if a illegal alien can get a driver's license and thereby have the keys to the kingdom, including the ability to vote under the Motor Voter Act? If an alien has all of the benefits, including the ability to vote, but he is not a legal resident, what distinguishes him as an illegal resident of the country? Absolutely nothing. In terms of benefits available to him, there is no important difference between him and a U.S. citizen or legal alien resident of the U.S.A.
On October 2, 2003, members of the U.S. House of Representatives were confronted by people that came here on a Freedom Ride. I understand that this trip to Washington started in states and localities throughout the nation. People gathered all over and descended upon the nation's capital to declare their concern for the plight of illegal immigrants in this country, and they wanted to associate themselves with the freedom marches of the 1960s, the pre-civil rights days of the United States.
They called themselves a Freedom Ride because they wanted to associate themselves with the plight of the African-American blacks who had suffered, whose heritage had been a heritage of slavery and having suffered degradations that certainly should never have been countenance. Remember, we are talking about slavery, an institution that brought people here against their will. Even after the blacks were freed institutionally by law, the former slaves kept them from being able to achieve certain things and do certain things that citizens of this country were allowed to do, e.g., voting in elections for public officeholders, going into a restaurant and being served in the same place and manner as would a white person, and going to the same school as a white person. All these things were being denied to people who were here legally, whose parents had been here and whose family had been here for generations.
This was a travesty. This is a blight on America history. This is a dark part of our past. Yet the people who came here on October 2 to demonstrate suggest that illegal aliens have a problem identical or very similar to the problem faced by American blacks. These latter-day "Freedom Riders" claim that they and the people whose interests they represent share a common cause with American black people.
The latter-day "Freedom Riders" were here to put forward their concerns with regard to what they call the plight of those people who are here as immigrants. But what they really mean is that they are speaking for people who are here as illegal immigrants. If one is here in this country as a legal immigrant, he has ample protections available to him -- in fact, virtually all of the protections to which any citizen is entitled. If, however, one is here illegally, he is oftentimes ill-treated and taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers. Undeniably true.
As for the socalled "Freedom Riders," their solution to the problem of ill-treatment and exploitation of illegal aliens is to give everybody who is here legal status, to simply give amnesty to all those people who have come here illegally and make them legal residents of the country. Then, of course, they have all the protections enjoyed by legal alien residents and virtually all of those enjoyed by U.S. citizens..
Yes, that is one way to handle it. But I suggest to you that it is the worst way to handle it. And I suggest that the idea, the public policy of giving anyone who has broken the law here a benefit for doing so is bad public policy, that no one should be rewarded for violating the law, and that, no matter how compelling a illegal alien's story is about how long he has been here taking advantage of this country and this country's benefits, how long he has worked in in this country, those are not reasons to simply ignore the law.
If we do not like this law, then it is up to us in the Congress to change it, to repeal it. If we do not believe in borders, then erase them. If we do not believe that people should come into this country with our permission, then stop trying to give it. But as long as that is the law, then we cannot simply ignore the fact that it is the law and give amnesty to everybody who violates the law.
What sense does it make to ignore the law and grant amnesty to those who violate the law? The people of this country are asking that question. What sense does it make?
Moreover, many are asking us: Why is it that my family had to go through years of applications, sometimes thousands and thousands of dollars in expenses, to make the trek to this country legally, to wait in a long lines, to do everything that is expected of aliens seeking to come into this country legally in order to become bonafide legal residents and eventually citizens, while, at the same time, we are considering telling everybody who came here illegally that they can have all of the same benefits and all will be forgiven?
What message does that send to the millions of people who are still waiting to come into this country legally? It tells them all that they are suckers. That is what it says. It also says that they should simply jump to the head of the line and come into the country illegally, either sneaking across the border or getting visas, using them to come into the country, and then overstaying their visas. The latter alternative mode of illegal immigration actually accounts for about 45 or 50 percent of all those people living here illegally.They did not just come across the border from Mexico or from Canada. They actually flew into this country or came here somehow legally on visas, then simply stayed.
The message says that all of those people did the right thing. They were the smart people. They avoided all the hassle, all the expense, and all the respect for the law that we expect from the people who do come here legally.
What sense does this make, Americans ask. Can you answer this? Can anyone answer this? I cannot. It makes no sense.
Yet there are House members who have introduced a bill to give at least 500,000 agricultural workers amnesty under the guise of creating a guest worker program. What the bill will create, if the bill becomes law, is essentially an indentured servitude status for illegal aliens during a period of 4 or 5 years prior to their being given amnesty and an opportunity to become U.S. citizens. This is great. This is wonderful, according to the sponsors of the bill.
And Americans ask, why? What can you be thinking of? How can you possibly be talking about giving amnesty to anybody who has come in illegally? How can you talk about giving jobs to people who are essentially taking jobs from American workers?
All we hear, in the way of a response, is the claim that the illegals are people who are doing jobs Americans won't take. That claim is, of course, only partly true. Illegal aliens are doing jobs Americans will not take for the price we are willing to pay. That is true in many circumstances. But we are also exporting jobs and bringing in foreign workers under visa categories, H1B and L1.
People ask me: Why? How come it is that, when American high-tech workers are out of work by the millions, we are still bringing in hundreds of thousands of people in the H1B category to take those jobs?
Americans ask: How come we are allowing other people, other companies, to bring foreign workers in under the L1 category visa and replace American workers with less expensive foreign workers? Americans also ask: How come, when these foreign workers come here, many of them are actually trained by the person they are replacing? In order to get severance pay the American worker whom the foreign worker is replacing must train his replacement. The American to be laid off is told that either he train the foreigner in his job or the company will not give him severance pay. How come, Americans ask, is this happening?
I cannot explain it. I do not know.
I have a guess. My guess is that the high-tech industry contributes an awful lot of money to both parties and to the presidential election campaigns and, therefore, we choose a cheap labor policy. That is my guess. Maybe I am wrong, and somebody could certainly dispute it. I am hoping someone will. But in order to dispute my claim, we have to at least have a debate on this issue. But we will not have a debate, because debating this issue makes people uncomfortable.
We are dividing this country up into a lot of camps. Americans are encouraged to identify with self-designated victimized groups -- groups that continue to hyphenate their own definition of their American identity, groups that see themselves as not just as Americans, but as members of subgroups, alienated groups, special interest and cause-oriented groups, groups with complaints against American society as a whole. As I say, we are encouraging Americans to identify with specialized, narrowly focused groups, each of which feels victimized in some way.
We are encouraging the balkanization of America, and we are doing so because we operate under what is called a cult of multiculturalism. It is a philosophy that permeates contemporary American society. This philosophy permeates our schools. And it tells people that there is no reason for them to actually become part of the American mainstream, that there is nothing really good or worth emulating in American society, or Western civilization, for that matter. Following multiculturalist philosophy, our schools drop all references to Western civilization, except those references which present the West in the most negative light.
We tell people that come here from other countries that they should not become part of the American mainstream, that they should keep their own language, that they should keep their own political affiliations with their country of origin and not integrate into American society. We do all kinds of things that separate and divide us, rather than help to join us together as Americans.
In the House of Representatives, we allow groups to organize on the basis of race. Amazing as that might sound to Americans, we allow caucuses to develop, to actually be created here on the basis of race. On October 1, when I said that this was a bad idea and that I was going to introduce a proposed House rule which, if adopted, would prohibit any House caucus from being established on the basis of race, I was vilified by many of my colleagues for being both a racist and an insensitive person aa well as a lot of other things. I was so vilified because we have the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, and the Asian Pacific Caucus.
It is amazing to me that we can have a huge debate in this country over a very famous talk show host, Mr. Limbaugh, who makes an intemperate remark relating to the race of a football player, is chastised roundly, and is pressured into resigning his job position. In all of the media, everything I heard about the incident was the assertion that there was absolutely no place for this kind of thing, no reason we should ever be using or talking about race when we talk about these football players. There is nothing that connects these two, and we should not ever discuss it.
I certainly agree. I see absolutely no connection myself. It was probably a very stupid thing to do and to say.
But, on the same day that the story broke, I was roundly criticized for saying that we should not have a caucus in the U.S. House based on race and that all of the rhetoric that emanates out of the House about a colorblind society and all of the admonitions and all of the laws that we pass to ensure a colorblind society are essentially ignored, because we allow for people to organize in this body on the basis of race. Nobody said a thing when the Black Caucus was organized. Nor was anything said when the Hispanic and Asian Pacific Caucuses organized. I assure you a whole lot would be said if somebody tried to organize a "White Caucus" or "Caucasian Caucus," and I would certainly be one of the people saying, absolutely not, to the proposal.
But what is the difference? What is the difference?
These are uncomfortable things. People get very, very uptight and sort of anxious when anyone brings them up. But the point I tried to make here is that this is just another example of us dividing ourselves up. And when massive immigration combines with the philosophy of multiculturalism that permeates our society, it can only be bad for America. There is nothing positive I can think of about this.
We can extol the virtues of diversity. I am a full-blooded Italian-American. I love my heritage, including the part that one would say is Italian. But, if someone were to ask me what is my heritage, my answer would be, "Italian-American," with the emphasis on the word, "American." If someone were to ask me what is my country, I would immediately answer, "the United States of America," and this would have been my answer when I was a little child. That is what I have always thought of as my country, my history, and my heritage. I have never connected, nor have my parents ever considered allowing me to connect, politically, culturally, and philosophically with a country other than the United States of America. The idea of connecting in this way with a foreign country was an alien notion, and yet we are now encouraging this, therby endangering and undermining American national unity. We are creating this particular threat to American national security and survival. This national catastrophe, we are bringing on ourselves.
Still More on Immigration & Illegal Aliens
Thomas G. Tancredo is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Sixth Congressional District
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