Oct 10, 2007

From Many, One

North Coast Education Forum

Redding Republican Women

October 10, 2007


Let us begin by recognizing the unique foundation of the American Republic.  Our country was built on immigration.  We are a nation of immigrants.  We have founded that nation upon a concept enshrined in our nation’s motto, E Pluribus Unum:

From many nations, one nation – the American Nation

From many creeds, one creed – Freedom.

From many races, one race – the American race.

We have built one great nation from all the nations of the world because of a simple concept called assimilation: that process by which one acquires a common language, a common culture, and a common appreciation of AMERICAN legal traditions and AMERICAN constitutional principles.  Assimilation is made possible by our immigration laws.  

Those laws are not there to keep people out.  They are there to assure the orderly assimilation of immigrants from around the world.  It has served the nation well.  It has served immigrants well. 

The largest group of immigrants now comes from Mexico.  A recent RAND study pointed out that in the 20th Century, while our immigration laws were enforced, assimilation worked and made possible the swift attainment of the American dream for those immigrants.

But there is now an element in our political structure that seeks to undermine that concept of E Pluribus Unum. It seeks to hyphenate Americans, to develop linguistic divisions, to assign rights and preferences based on race and ethnicity, and to elevate devotion to foreign ideologies and traditions, while denigrating American culture, American values and American founding principles.  In order to do so, they know that they have to stop the process of assimilation.  In order to do that, they must undermine our immigration laws. 

During the debate on the federal amnesty bill a few months ago, I was struck by something that George Bush said.  He said, “If you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill’s an amnesty bill. That’s empty political rhetoric trying to frighten our citizens.” He went on to say, “If you want to kill the bill, if you don’t want to do what’s right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it. You can use it to frighten people.”

“Frighten people?”  What frightens people is that between 12 and 20 million foreign nationals – many of whom are manifestly hostile to American sovereignty and American constitutional principles – have illegally crossed our borders while our nation’s President has done nothing to defend our nation.  We remember the chants of “reconquista” from millions of Mexican loyalists in America’s major cities last year.

“One little aspect?”  That “one little aspect” would have legalized and legitimized the presence of those foreign nationals, it would have tied the hands of future administrations, and it would have made the presence of a large and openly hostile population within our borders permanent and irreversible. 

It was precisely that “one little aspect” in the 1986 immigration act – along with Bush’s surrender of our southern border – that have produced today’s crisis.

The most fundamental responsibility of the federal government is to defend the sanctity of our nation’s borders.  If it can’t do that – then what good is it?

The Attorney General at the time of the 1986 amnesty was Ed Meese.  He said the only difference between the amnesty in the 1986 bill and Bush’s bill today is that in 1986, they were honest and called it an amnesty.  And it didn’t work.

Fortunately, Bush’s amnesty bill re-ignited public awareness and anger over this issue.  The smarmy assurance that the amnesty will be accompanied by genuine reform of immigration screening and vigorous enforcement of our nation's border rings utterly hollow.  If the federal government isn’t willing to enforce our EXISTING immigration law, why should we have any confidence that it would enforce a future law?     

When the same promise was made during the amnesty of 1986, there were three million illegal aliens in the United States.  That law literally cut the illegal immigrant population to zero by legalizing every one then in the country.  And that was supposed to be the end of illegal immigration, because henceforth, the federal government promised to tightly control the nation’s borders, to immediately deport those who violated those borders, and to vigorously prosecute anyone who employed them. 

Today, twenty years later, there are between 12 and 20 million illegal aliens in the United States, they are employed with impunity (except for an occasional show-case raid), and border patrol officers who are actually doing their jobs now fear the prospect of federal imprisonment in the wake of the Ramos and Compean prosecutions.  

But according to our nation’s President there’s no reason to worry.  Although we can’t possibly enforce our current laws, we’ll have no problem enforcing a tougher one after we’ve legitimized, rewarded and sanctioned the 20 million people who thumbed their noses at the old laws.

Here in California, a Republican governor is actively seeking one of the biggest tax increases in our state’s history in order to provide free health insurance for every illegal alien in this state -- a proposal well to the left of the one by the Senate Democrats. 

The governor’s argument is that federal law already requires them to be treated in emergency rooms. 

Now, let me ask you something.  Why is it that a federal law that says illegal aliens must be treated in our hospitals must be rigorously enforced – while a federal law that says that once we’ve treated them, we’re supposed to return them to their own country MUST BE RIGOROUSLY IGNORED.  I asked the governor that very question earlier this year.  He didn’t have an answer.

Meanwhile, California already provides taxpayer financed in-state tuition subsidies for illegal aliens to attend our taxpayer supported colleges and universities, and a measure now on the governor’s desk would provide them taxpayer funded financial grants as well.

To put it simply, an illegal alien pays around $7,000 per year to attend the University of California.  An American citizen from Nevada pays $24,000.

The total cost to California taxpayers of just providing the in-state tuition subsidies to illegals is as much as $75 million per year. 

There is a bill now sitting on the Governor’s desk -- SB 1 – that would greatly increase this figure by adding taxpayer financed cash grants to those same illegal aliens. 

The argument for this is that these students were innocent children when their parents illegally brought them to this country and had no choice in the matter.  This may be true.  But they are no longer children.  They are of legal age.  And as responsible adults, they have an obligation to obey the laws of this nation and that begins by establishing legal residency – as millions of legal immigrants have done.

And until they have established legal residency and agreed to abide by the laws of our nation, they have no claim on taxpayer funds.

We’re also told that these are largely disadvantaged young people who require a college education so that they can seek skilled jobs.  But under federal law it is illegal to employ them in those jobs.  It is an obvious admission that the proponents of this legislation have no intention to enforce these laws. 

In addition to costs of up to $75 million per year, this law creates absolutely indefensible inequities for legal immigrants to this country, and for out-of-state American citizens.

Consider two students from Mexico.   One obeys every immigration law to come here legally.  He files for the appropriate visas, he runs the gauntlet of the application process and he meets every requirement for legal status in the United States.  The other has broken every immigration law for the last three years and is in the United States illegally.

The only difference is this: the LEGAL immigrant – who obeyed our laws -- will be charged nearly $24,000 to attend the University of California; the ILLEGAL immigrant will pay $7,000 with California taxpayers contributing the remaining $17,000. 

Or consider an American citizen who just moved here LEGALLY from Arizona.  She will also be charged the out-of state tuition.  And while she is waiting tables to pay her tuition costs, her taxes will be used to subsidize the illegal alien.

I was struck by an appeal letter brought to my attention a few years ago from the Department of the Navy protesting the University of California’s decision to charge the non resident tuition of $24,000 for a student of Hispanic descent named Lou-Anthony Palomique Limon.

He is the son of Chief Petty Officer Anthony Limon, stationed in Sigonella, Italy.  Lou-Anthony graduated as valedictorian of his class from a DOD high school in Sigonella.  The only American residence he has ever had is in California.  But he was turned down for resident tuition, while thousands of illegal aliens were granted millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies.

I do not think that it is unreasonable to ask that grown adults who are seeking thousands of dollars of taxpayer subsidies should be first asked to comply with our nation’s laws, starting with our immigration laws. 

The left will go out of its way to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration.  But they are two absolutely opposite concepts.  In fact, I have found that the people who are angriest about ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION are LEGAL immigrants who have obeyed all of our laws, who have waited in line, have done everything our nation has asked of them – while millions of ILLEGAL immigrants have cut in line in front of them.

And think about it: You cannot support illegal immigration and LEGAL IMMIGRATION at the same time.  If you are going to ignore our immigration laws – much less provide a full range of benefits to illegal aliens – then there really is no point to legal immigration.  Why would anybody go to all the trouble of complying with our laws if those very laws are being ignored?

The argument we keep hearing is, “well what are you going to do.  We can’t possibly deport 12 to 20 million people.”  Nobody has suggested that – the fact is that we can secure our borders without mass deportations and without making the presence of 12 to 20 million illegal aliens within our borders permanent and irreversible.  

We can start by expediting completion of the 700 miles of border fence that Congress authorized last October, and that the Bush administration has dawdled on ever since.  According to Congressman Duncan Hunter, who co-authored the “Secure Fence Act,” just ten miles of security fencing in San Diego reduced the county’s crime rate dramatically. 

Imagine what 700 miles would do.

Second, there have been hundreds of documented instances of armed Mexican military units crossing our borders in support of drug runners.  If that’s not justification for deploying our national guard on our Southern Border, I don’t know what is.   Even the limited deployment of a few hundred unarmed National Guard troops last year had a significant impact on the sections that were patrolled.

Third, the government must at least demonstrate a determined, sustained effort to deport those illegal aliens it actually encounters through law enforcement or social service agencies.  No immigration law is going to be taken seriously if an illegal alien can receive government-funded benefits while the government cheerfully ignores the fact that he is not legally entitled to be here in the first place.

Fourth, sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants need to be just as rigorously enforced as all of our other labor laws.  There is no excuse for those who would shortchange American citizens and legal immigrants in order to employ those who violate our nation’s sovereignty. 

If our state and federal labor agencies can audit every scrap of employment minutia down to lunch and bathroom breaks, they should certainly be able to determine the legal residency requirements that were supposed to be the cornerstone of the 1986 immigration act. 

This modest effort to enforce existing law would not only stop the immediate demand on services that is overwhelming our schools, our hospitals and our prisons, it would also produce the voluntary departure of that portion of the illegal population drawn here by public handouts or the underground economy, and reduce it to levels that can be assimilated. 

Citizenship should be reserved for those who obey our laws – starting with our immigration laws – as millions of legal immigrants are doing right now to fulfill their dream of becoming loyal Americans.  Genuine amnesty for illegals means forgiving their past violation of our laws – not sanctioning their continued violation. 

It means leaving, being forgiven and then re-entering legally, under the same laws as apply to every other legal immigrant. 

Together, these steps – which require nothing more than the faithful enforcement of existing law -- would preserve our nation as a melting pot for many future generations of legal immigrants from around the world who sincerely seek to become Americans and “to secure the blessings of liberty” to themselves and their posterity.

Tom McClintock
Tom`s Blog