Jewish World Review April 14, 2005/ 5 Nisan, 5765
Minutemen don't call us "Vigilantes"
Several hundred "Minutemen" American citizens stationed
themselves at the Arizona-Mexico border. They intend to monitor 23 miles of
border, and alert Border Patrol agents when they spot someone entering the
country illegally. This 20-plus mile border area is one of the highest
traffic corridors for illegal border-crossings. Last year, more than 40
percent of the 1.15 million illegal aliens caught by Border Patrol were
taken into custody in this southern Arizona region, known as the Tucson
sector. Although President Bush called the Minutemen "vigilantes," the
administration reassigned several hundred Border Patrol agents to the area.
The Minuteman Project, co-founded by former schoolteacher Chris
Simcox, claims it stopped some 4,000 people from entering the country.
Simcox says that their presence caused the Mexican government which calls
the Minutemen "migrant hunters" to place its military on Mexico's side of
the border. The Minutemen, the added Border Patrol and the heightened
awareness all combined, according to Simcox, to "shut down" this part of the
Simcox says he intends to continue the project until the Bush
administration puts sufficient manpower on the border. But Simcox agrees
that most people attempting to enter the country illegally from Mexico do so
for economic betterment, and he feels sympathy for someone leaving a poor
country to seek a better life for their family. He agrees that we need some
orderly system to match willing sellers of labor with willing suppliers.
Simcox realizes what others refuse to acknowledge there are jobs
Americans simply will not take, and he supports some form of guest-worker
program, as proposed by President Bush. But, he says, it cannot work without
first securing the borders.
A few years ago, I interviewed a man who started an inner-city
restaurant to provide jobs for the mostly black kids living in the area. He
opened the restaurant, but soon found difficulty in attracting competent
help. He put ads in the newspaper, and advised churches and many community
organizations of the availability of work. Soon, he said he "resorted to
hiring Hispanics" because he could not find reliable help at wages he could
When I interviewed Chris Simcox on my radio program, an Oregon
farmer called. He said, "Some of the people who are employing these
so-called illegal immigrants get a real bad rap like . . . 'you're providing
these people with jobs that other Americans should have and need.' But I'm
tellin' ya, as a farmer . . . we don't have any other alternatives than to
bring those people in. . . . Why should an employer turn a deaf ear to
people who are willing to come here and willing to work and do the job that
no American will do?"
Simcox replied, "I agree. No one can deny that there are jobs in
this country that are available, jobs other people won't take. . . . We're
not talking about preventing people from coming to work. We're talking about
people entering the country illegally. We need to know who is coming into
this country, where they're going, and their intentions. If their intentions
are to work, then, by all means, we should welcome them. My plan would be
that we have a way to expedite workers coming in."
Americans, our neighbors and friends, employ them. Nearly 11
million people, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, live illegally in
America. Dealing with illegal immigration requires a combination more
Border Patrol agents, beefing up the INS, allowing local police to inquire
about the immigration status of criminals they suspect were previously
deported who have returned.
Experts differ on whether illegal immigration adds to or
detracts from our economy when one considers all costs. According to the
Center for Immigration Studies, U.S. households headed by illegal aliens
used $26.3 billion in government services during 2002, but paid only $16
billion in taxes, an annual net cost to taxpayers of $10 billion.
But according to a CATO Institute Trade Policy Analysis on
illegal migration, "Economists generally agree that immigration benefits the
United States. . . . Immigration does lower the wages of the relatively
small segment of the workforce that competes directly with immigrants, but
those losses are exceeded by the higher return to owners of capital and the
lower prices that all workers pay for the goods produced by immigrants. In
one of the most comprehensive economic studies ever done on the impact of
immigration on the U.S. economy, the National Research Council concluded in
a 1997 report that immigration delivers a 'significant positive gain' of $1
billion to $10 billion a year to native Americans. The President's Council
of Economic Advisers, in its February 2002 Economic Report . . . estimated
that immigrants raise the income of Americans by $1 billion to $14 billion a
year. Those sums may seem trivial in a $10 trillion economy, but the gains
from immigration are positive and real and recur year after year."
In either case, national security requires us to do a better job
of tracking those who enter the country. But let us acknowledge that there
are jobs Americans will not do.
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