A campaign for another mass amnesty for the aliens (estimated at six million, perhaps, many more) living illegally in the United States has been quietly gathering steam for some months now, promoted by a coalition of liberal and conservative politicos, racial and religious particularists, and business interests (who benefit from cheaper foreign labor, especially in the agricultural, construction, meat-packing, high-tech, and higher education fields). Leaders from both major political parties endorse recently introduced legislation that would provide amnesty for illegal aliens from Central America and the Caribbean, as well as any illegal aliens residing in the U.S. who have been living here since the end of 1985. Given that, as legal residents, the beneficiaries of a new amnesty could bring in dependents, there is no telling just how many millions of people would be added to the U.S. population base.
Note that in the statements by Vice-President Al Gore and leading Republican Jack Kemp, the words "amnesty" and "illegal alien" or "illegal immigration" are nowhere used. This is hardly surprising, since the proponents of "regularizing" the standing of the millions of foreigners who live here in violation of our laws want to slip the enabling legislation past the unsuspecting American majority.
What is wrong with another amnesty? First, it is wrong in principle, since it rewards lawbreakers. As far back as 1977, when President Jimmy Carter proposed granting the first amnesty, Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker pointed out that an amnesty "puts the government squarely behind the lawbreaker, and in effect says, ‘Congratulations, you have successfully violated our laws and avoided detection - here is your reward.'"
A lesson we should have learned from the 1986 amnesty is that this is not the way to resolve our illegal-immigration problem. It encourages more illegal immigration, as individuals realize that if they manage to elude the U.S. Border Patrol, or over-stay a tourist or student visa and remain underground for a while, eventually they will be allowed to remain here legally. There is nothing inhumane about enforcing our immigration laws and expelling illegal aliens. Another mass-amnesty is likely to precipitate a new immigration crisis.