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Jewish World Review March 19, 2002/ 6 Nisan, 5762

Don Feder

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GOP balks at Bush's amnesty | Someone forgot to tell Jorge Bush that he is not the president of Mexico. The leader of this nation is expected to protect our interests, not those of our neighbor to the south.

When Bush goes to Mexico on Thursday to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox, he brings with him the gift of a House vote in favor of amnesty for tens of thousands of Fox's countrymen living here illegally.

Last week, the House voted 275 to 137 to allow illegals who are qualified -- through marriage or employment -- to apply for visas without going home. (Why should lawbreakers be inconvenienced?) It's estimate that 200,000 could take advantage of this get-into-the-country-legally card.

"This bill sends a message to the world that our country will be a beacon to all who love freedom and the opportunity to live, work and raise a family," House Republican leader Dick Armey proclaimed. Even if they trash our laws to do so?

The latest amnesty sends an unmistakable message to hungry hordes hudled on our borders: "America is a country of saps, whose leaders will trade national sovereignty for a little Latin lovin' at the polls. If you can make it past the Border Patrol and hang on for a few years, you too can be amnestied. Then you can send for the rest of your extended family."

Why not just tear down barriers, build a one-way, eight-lane highway from Tijuana and have the border patrol hand out fruit baskets to new arrivals?

As it is, the Immigration and Naturalization Service annually apprehends 1.2 million trying to infiltrate the country. It's estimated that there are between 6 million and 11 million illegal aliens within our borders. Each year, their number swells by 125,000.

But illegal immigration is only one facet of the problem. The foreign-born hover around 29 million -- as a percentage of the population, double what they were in 1970. The Census Bureau estimates that over the next 50 years, U.S. population will increase from 248 million to 400 million, with two-thirds of that growth attributable to immigration.

We are importing poverty, ignorance and disunity.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that among immigrants who've been here 10 to 20 years, 34 percent lacks a high school diploma, compared to 10 percent of the native-born. The former are 50 percent more likely to exist in or near poverty than the later.

It's reasonable to suppose that illegals are even less educated and more poverty-prone than long-time legal immigrants.

The American people never voted in favor of open borders. There was never a plebiscite on our becoming the welcome wagon of the world. No one ever said to us: "Hey, Americans, how would like to take in over half of the world's immigrants? You can educate their children, provide them with welfare benefits, lose your language and watch as your national identity slowly fades away."

In Texas last month, two candidates for the Democratic Senate nomination debated in Spanish. Tony Sanchez, who won the nomination, said he was "proud to be bilingual and bicultural." Does his divided loyalty extend beyond culture?

But a funny thing happened on the way to the latest amnesty. A majority of the president's party balked at the latest move toward balkanization. Republicans voted against the green-card giveaway by 123 to 92. It passed only with the overwhelming support of Democrats.

Except for Rep. John Sununu of New Hampshire, all of the House Republicans who are running for Senate this year opposed the bill. While Bush does his Mexican hat dance, they march to a popular beat.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., a leader of the nationhood wing of the Republican Party, was scathing: "Sept. 11th brought home in the sharpest way possible that we have no control over our borders. The White House is convinced this type of pandering will actually result in a higher percentage of votes from minority communities. I adamantly disagree with them."

A former Democratic congresswoman, the late Barbara Jordan (who chaired a presidential immigration commission in the 1990s) put the matter in the proper context: "Immigration is not a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to everyone and anyone in the world who wishes to come to the United States. It is a privilege granted by the people of the United States to those whom we choose to admit."

It's time for the American people to reassert their democratic right to control their fate. Immigration policy is national destiny.

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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© 2002, Creators Syndicate