Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 2003 / 4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764
Legalizing the illegals
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Many Americans are concerned because millions of illegal immigrants enter this country and little seems to be done to stop them. But California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, is upset because now something is being done to catch some of them.
Police raids on dozens of Wal-Mart stores are "terrorizing" illegal immigrants, according to House Minority Leader Pelosi. What would she do about illegal immigrants? Legalize them!
This mindset is not confined to Nancy Pelosi. There are several bills currently before Congress to make "undocumented workers" we are too delicate to call illegal aliens what they are legal residents. After that, they are on the road to citizenship.
In other words, come here illegally and we will make you legal!
Just recently, California's outgoing Governor Gray Davis signed a law giving illegal aliens the right to get driver's licenses. Since driver's licenses are widely accepted as identification, that amounts to providing illegal aliens widespread access to the institutions of American society, private and public.
Illegal aliens living in California can go to the state universities and pay only the in-state tuition, while native-born American citizens who live in neighboring Oregon or Nevada have to pay much higher out-of-state tuition to attend California's state universities. Apparently Mexico is not out of state.
Some of this is just shameless politics, in utter disregard of what most Americans want and oblivious to the irreversible changes that massive illegal immigration introduces into American society. When an illegal immigrant is allowed to settle in the United States, any child born to that illegal alien automatically becomes an American citizen and all that child's relatives back in Mexico or elsewhere then have the inside track to come here legally.
All this is widely known. But it is also widely disregarded in the quest for Hispanic votes. Yet what is happening cannot all be explained by cynical and short-sighted politics.
After all, we still have a free press and innumerable television channels. If those in the media who loudly proclaim "the public's right to know" when it suits their interests were serious about alerting the public to what is happening, and put as much indignation into it as they put into many more trivial issues, the mass outcry from voters would quickly get the politicians' attention.
The fact is that the intelligentsia have no stomach for defending American society or its culture and values, and certainly not as much interest in doing so as they have in posturing as friends of the underdog, or as citizens of the world who are above parochial national concerns.
Another factor is that even critics of illegal immigration have to admit that many of the most hard-working people in California are people of Mexican origin, both legal and illegal.
You don't see Mexicans or Mexican Americans begging on the streets of San Francisco, for example, the way you often see healthy white men who look perfectly capable of working, if they did not find begging an easier or more profitable life.
But it is a bogus argument that illegal immigrants do work that most Americans refuse to do. The fallacy would become obvious, even to the media, if Mexican reporters came over here illegally and worked for half of what American reporters were getting.
Would the media still buy the argument that these reporters from Mexico were just doing work that you cannot get Americans to do? Or would they finally wake up to the fact that the pay level has a lot to do with whether Americans will accept certain jobs?
Another fallacious argument is that today's immigration is nothing new because this country has absorbed millions of immigrants in the past. In the past, people came here to become Americans, not remain foreigners. But between the multicultural craze and the proximity of Mexico, Americanization has an uphill fight and may never become the norm.
The question is not how many new Americans can we accept but how many more foreigners can we absorb? And how many terrorists?
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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Controversial Essays." (Sales help fund JWR.)