In a September 22nd editorial, The New York Times renewed its opposition to the construction of a fence to deter illegal crossings from Mexico to the United States.
The Times speculates that the current decline in border arrests “could be because of the bad economy as much as the fence.” They are probably right. What I object to is the Times’ insistence that a better solution to the problem of illegal immigration is “for Congress to reform the nation’s immigration laws. No fence can keep a determined immigrant out or absolve Congress of that responsibility.” The Times’ version of reforming our immigration laws means providing amnesty and a path to citizenship to the estimated 12 to 20 million illegal aliens now living in the U.S.
The Times refuses to use the words illegal aliens when referring to people crossing our borders without permission. Instead, it calls them “immigrants,” or “migrants.” If people entered The New York Times building without permission and squatted there, would the Times call them migrants? Or would it call them trespassers and have them evicted?
I believe that the next legislative battle will be over amnesty and “a path to citizenship.” Regrettably, President Obama and Senator John McCain stand shoulder to shoulder in support of such amnesty.
I oppose the granting of amnesty except in cases demanding a compassionate response, e.g., children who are American citizens whose parents are illegals. My solution to illegal immigration is prison for American employers who knowingly hire illegals. I do not support jailing the aliens, but I would support paying their transportation costs back to their homelands. If their own countries want to give them a preference in applying for U.S. citizenship and allow them to jump ahead of those who have patiently waited in line, I would try in some way to accommodate that action. I doubt that will occur.
If such amnesty is offered again, as it was in 1986, it will make a mockery of our laws. The illegals will continue to come, hoping and expecting a subsequent amnesty. The Pew Research Center, according to the September 23rd Times, reported “one-third of Mexicans say they would move to this country if they could, and more than half of those would move even if they did not have legal immigration documents.” Those Mexican citizens seem to agree with the Times on open borders.
I believe that legal immigration is good for our country and should be encouraged. We currently accept one million immigrants a year: 750,000 permanent immigrants and 250,000 refugees. They can all apply for citizenship after five years. If that number is inadequate for our country’s needs, as it probably is, we should increase the number of legal, permanent immigrants allowed to enter each year.
Both the Democratic and Republican Party leadership support amnesty. They tried under President Bush to achieve that goal but were thwarted on two occasions by an indignant American public. As a result of public opposition to amnesty, both parties agreed to construct the fence. The Times, other institutions, and amnesty advocates fought the fence tooth and nail and continue the struggle.
The Times’ editorial is correct, however, to criticize the cost of the fence. It also tells us that “Investigators from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office report that the larger, actual fence-covering a 600 mile-plus stretch between San Diego and Brownsville, Tex.-cost $2.4 billion to build and will cost an extra $6.5 billion in upkeep across two decades.” It also notes that “Auditors reported last week that the high-tech, 28-mile “virtual” section of the fence was running a mere seven years behind this month’s planned opening.”
Ridiculous. Somebody, probably a lot of people, should be fired for incompetence. That is why when government officials tell us they intend to fund a new program like health care and save money by eliminating waste, fraud, and incompetence, nobody believes them. This single example explains why, but there are many others. The purpose of this article is to sound the alarm so that we can gird our loins and prepare for the next congressional battle over immigration which is likely to take place in the election year 2010.
The Honorable Edward Irving Koch served New York City as its 105th Mayor from 1978 to 1989.