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Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2001 / 21 Shevat 5761

Don Feder

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Consumer Reports

Amnesties are a green light for illegal immigration -- REP. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., thinks illegal immigration is great for America. Philanthropist that he is, the congressman wants to give us more of a good thing.

Gutierrez has filed legislation to allow virtually every illegal alien in the country (an estimated 5 million) to stay.

Those who arrived before Feb. 6, 1996, would immediately qualify for a green card. Those who came between that date and Feb. 6, 2001, could apply for legal residency after five years.

"People in this country know they are benefiting from the work of undocumented workers," Gutierrez argues. "Why not grant them the dignity and justice that comes with permanent legal residency?" Dignity and justice are euphemisms for government benefits and the ability to bring in their relatives.

A Gutierrez aide says illegals are doing "essential jobs" and G-d help the economy if -- spurred by our ingratitude -- they go home. And what do we do with these largely uneducated, untrained workers if the economy heads south, as indicators suggest it might?

Instead of benefits, Americans are more apt to associate illegal immigration with words like crime, disease and loss of national identity.

Contagious diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy are reappearing in this country, thanks to illegal immigration. Peter Brimlow, author of "Alien Nation," reports that several years ago, senior probation officers in Orange County, Calif., estimated that up to 80 percent of their cases involved illegals.

Amnesties tell inhabitants of the impoverished Third World that if they can sneak past the Border Patrol, Uncle Softie will eventually welcome them with open arms.

They also say to the foreigners who are patiently waiting for permission to immigrate (sometimes up to 18 years): "Suckers!"

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 amnestied 2.8 million. According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, there are more illegals in the country now.

Amnestied aliens can immediately sponsor their spouses and dependent children for residence. If they become citizens, they can sponsor parents and siblings.

It's difficult to get demographics on "undocumented workers." (If someone breaks into your house, is he an "uninvited guest"?) However, in 1992 the INS surveyed those amnestied in 1986. Only 15 percent spoke English, though all had been here for at least a decade; 80 percent used public health services. On average, they had a seventh-grade education.

Democrats support this dubious contribution to the general welfare, with a wink and a nod, because they directly benefit from the support of ethnic lobbies eager to increase their numbers.

Republicans lack the courage to do anything positive about the problem, though most in Congress oppose mass amnesties. They are convinced that by keeping a low profile they can do better with the Hispanic vote.

In the past campaign, President Bush refused to support initiatives to end bilingual education or recognize English as our official language. He ended up with about 35 percent of the Latino vote and congratulated himself for improving the Republican position.

However, as the National Review's John O'Sullivan notes, this still means that for every 100 illegal immigrants who come here (most from South of the border) and become citizens, the GOP will have a net loss of 30 votes.

By not defending our sovereignty, Republicans miss an opportunity to appeal to the majority of Americans who understand that illegal immigration undermines national identity. (Bush took only 54 percent of the white vote in 2000.) It's also a way to court lower-income blacks, the chief victims of cheap illegal-immigrant labor.

On Feb. 16, Bush is scheduled to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox, who will press him to be lenient with Mexicans who've infiltrated the United States. During the election, Dubya said, "I'm not prepared to embrace amnesty because I don't think the commitment's there yet to do anything on the border." This is Bush-speak for: We have to plug our porous border before we can consider compassion for lawbreakers.

Illegal immigration benefits Americans the way treason enhances national security.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2001, Creators Syndicate