Ed Koch Commentary: Illegal Aliens Are Illegal, Not Simply Undocumented BY EDWARD I. KOCH

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Koch_EdwardIrving-standing  According to the May 20th New York Times, a little girl asked First Lady Michelle Obama about immigration reform, stating, “My mom says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.”  The First Lady comforted the little girl, saying, “Yeah, well that’s something that we have to work on, right?”  The little girl responded, “But my mom doesn’t have any papers.”

          In the same article, the President of Mexico was quoted as saying, “We will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation [U.S.] will [not] be treated as criminals,” meaning that Arizona should not be arresting people who illegally crossed the U.S. border and are now illegal aliens.

          But why shouldn’t people who deliberately violated the law be arrested and deported?  In the case of Arizona, illegal immigration has been extremely burdensome.  Arizona is being overwhelmed with an estimated 500,000 illegals now in that state and more coming every day.  Many of those illegals require medical services and education facilities for their children.  The cost to Arizona undoubtedly runs into the multi-millions, if not billions of dollars.  If the feds are failing to do their job to protect Arizona from infiltration, that state government has decided it will do the job.  For that, Arizona is being denounced by President Obama and by many members of Congress.  When Mexican President Felipe Calderón denounced Arizona’s law when he addressed the joint session of Congress, saying, “It is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree but also introduces a terrible idea using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement…core values we all care about are breached,” the Democrats stood up and applauded him.  What an outrage, both by Congress and Calderón.

          As a result of the furor created by the Arizona law calling for police identification and arrest of illegal immigrants, the Arizona legislature changed the law and now some other incident – such as a traffic offense or otherwise – must take place before an Arizona police officer can inquire about a person’s right to be in the U.S.  This amendment is to insure against racial profiling.

          If the little girl had said to the First Lady, “My mom is a shoplifter,” I would have felt badly for her, but I would not have discouraged the cops from getting a search warrant.  In this little girl’s situation, the White House announced there would be no effort to remove the little girl’s mother from the U.S., because she was not a danger to the country.  Our hearts go out to children and I believe if a child is born here, every effort should be made to keep the family intact in the U.S.

          I have heard public officials in ever larger numbers talk about the need to provide the illegals with a “pathway to citizenship.”  Why?  Probably because those politicians – particularly Democrats – hope to enlist them to vote for them in the future.  They are becoming an ever larger part of the American population, with Hispanics expected to be 29 percent of the population by 2050.  Clergy, particularly Roman Catholic, also support giving illegal aliens citizenship.  Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles is a leader in this effort for reasons of compassion and I would think because the Roman Catholic Church is becoming increasingly Hispanic, particularly in the Southwest of the U.S. 

          People like me oppose granting amnesty to illegals for the same reasons that the people of the U.S. rose up twice during George W. Bush’s presidency and defeated two congressional efforts to create amnesty and a path to citizenship for an estimated 12 to 20 million illegal aliens.

          We think it is simply wrong to reward illegal conduct by those who crossed the borders without permission or overstayed their visas.  If more permanent immigrants are needed – I think we need more – they should come from those waiting in line or willing to join the existing line.  Our immigration quotas should be increased, doubled or tripled if necessary.  We now take in 750,000 permanent immigrants and 250,000 asylees annually.  On the other hand, I do not believe in open borders.  Mexico doesn’t have them, evidenced by the following exchange between CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and President Calderón:

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about Mexico's laws. I read an article in "The Washington Times" the other day. I'm going to read a paragraph to you and you tell me if this is true or not true. This is from "The Washington Times": "Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to reenter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals. Is that true?

CALDERÓN: It was true, but it is not anymore. We derogate or we erased that part of the law. Actually, the legal immigration is not a — is not a crime in Mexico. Not anymore, since one year ago. And that is the reason why we are trying to establish our own comprehensive public policy talking about, for instance, immigrants coming from Central America...

BLITZER: So if people want to come from Guatemala or Honduras or El Salvador or Nicaragua, they want to just come into Mexico, they can just walk in?

CALDERÓN: No. They need to fulfill a form. They need to establish their right name. We analyze if they have not a criminal precedent. And they coming into Mexico. Actually…

BLITZER: Do Mexican police go around asking for papers of people they suspect are illegal immigrants? 

CALDERÓN: Of course. Of course, in the border, we are asking the people, who are you?

And if they explain…

BLITZER: At the border, I understand, when they come in.


BLITZER: But once they're in…

CALDERÓN: But not — but not in — if — once they are inside the — inside the country, what the Mexican police do is, of course, enforce the law. But by any means, immigration is [not] a crime anymore in Mexico.

BLITZER: Immigration is not a crime, you're saying?

CALDERÓN: It's not a crime.

BLITZER: So in other words, if somebody sneaks in from Nicaragua or some other country in Central America, through the southern border of Mexico, they wind up in Mexico, they can go get a job…


BLITZER: They can work.

CALDERÓN: If — if somebody do that without permission, we send back — we send back them.

BLITZER: You find them and you send them back?

CALDERÓN: Yes. However, especially with the people of Guatemala, we are providing a new system in which any single citizen from Guatemala could be able to visit any single border (INAUDIBLE) in the south. And even with all the requirements, he can or she can visit any parts of Mexico.

BLITZER: I ask the questions because there's an argument that people in Arizona and New Mexico and — and Texas, they say they're only trying to do in their states what Mexico itself does in the southern part of Mexico.

CALDERÓN: I know. And that is a very powerful argument. But that is one of the reasons why we are trying to change our policy.  And let me be frank, Wolf. In the past, Mexican authorities were in a — in a — in an unfortunate way in the treatment for immigrants. But now we are changing the
policy. We changed already the law. And that is different today. We are trying to write a new story, talking about immigrants, especially coming from Central American countries.

          When Haitians were coming across the Caribbean in dangerous boats to Florida, the advocates were calling them economic refugees.  There is even more reason for them to come now because of the earthquake devastation.  We sent them back because we have no special category of admission for economic refugees, only for asylees who fear and can prove they would be subject to bodily harm if sent home.

          When Senator John McCain realized his error in supporting the amnesty bill and in the course of his current primary reelection campaign, did a campaign commercial apparently repudiating his earlier support, he was denounced by the New York Times in an editorial which said, “Who else has shown such courage in the long struggle for immigration reform?  Not Mr. McCain, who ditched his principled support of rational immigration legislation to better his odds in a close re-election campaign against a far-right-wing opponent.”  I, however, applaud Senator McCain for changing his position so as to reflect that of the overwhelming number of Arizona’s citizens.  That is particularly true in this case where 59 percent, according to a Pew Research poll of the people of the U.S. agree with Arizona’s action. 

          The battle in Congress on this issue may come this year, but probably not.  The members of Congress and the President himself fear the outcome of such a battle – they think they will lose.  In all probability, our national leaders intend to wait until after the November election to vote on this bill thinking the two years that follow until the next election will protect them.  The passage of time they believe will dull memories and the passions that currently exist in opposition to amnesty legislation.

          When will they learn the public is not made up of chumps to be taken advantage of?  We will remember and hold those people accountable when they next run for office.

          Let me know your thoughts at eikoch@bryancave.com.

The Honorable Edward Irving Koch served New York City as its  105th Mayor from  1978  to  1989.

eHeziEd Koch Commentary: Illegal Aliens Are Illegal, Not Simply Undocumented BY EDWARD I. KOCH

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