Re Illegal Immigrants -- What Can be Done?

By Michael Scott
Volume 11, Number 1 (Fall 2000)
Issue theme: "America's porous borders"

Nine years ago, I accidentally stumbled upon a botched illegal immigration operation on a nearby Southern California beach - in broad daylight. Nearly one-hundred illegal immigrants were hiding in a few tiny gullies, partially protected by a cadre of lookouts, presumably waiting for transportation to get them to their destinations. Neither the local police nor Los Angeles INS showed much concern. This resulted in my researching the background and realities of illegal immigration, and the more I learned, the worse it got. We've got a ticking time bomb on our hands, made worse by legions of government officials who just slumber on, or push their heads deeper into the sand to curry favor with those who support this relentless invasion. Just as bad, lots of Americans have been sucker-punched into inaction by threats of being called "racist", "bigot" and sundry yada yada.

Then, a year ago, I had a conversation with Arizona rancher Roger Barnett, whose property is under year-round siege by hordes of illegal aliens. His Chochise County border sector is overwhelmed by about 475,000 illegal aliens annually. Although Barnett has apprehended over 1000 illegal aliens on his property and turned them over to the Border Patrol, he's anything but a vigilante. Roger has lived in Douglas, Arizona all of his 50-some years, and is infuriated by the on-going destruction of his property caused by incessant swarms of illegal immigrants, as well as by the repeated failures of the INS to stem this relentless flood. Barnett and his neighbors have had it with an unmerciful stealth migration that generates mountains of rotting garbage, piles of discarded diapers, food containers and plastic water bottles, and sundry filth everywhere - exacerbated by the stench of excrement, poisoned (or throat-slit) pets and livestock, torn down fences, and lots of stolen property that wasn't tied-down.

Of special ire is Barnett's 80-year-old widowed neighbor who lives behind her chain-link fence, with a shotgun and pistol always near by, and who's afraid to come out at night and challenge the hoards who have ruined her crops and garden, and made her a virtual prisoner in her own home. She's afraid to buy more guard dogs since the last two were poisoned, probably by "coyotes."

One look at the ravages of illegal immigration in California is enough to make most Americans sick. At least 40 percent of the nation's 6 million illegal immigrants are here. From a base of 2.4 million illegal immigrants already present, they just keep coming - 120,000 net new illegals each year into California (300,000 nationally), and the horrendous social costs just keep rising. There are 408,000 illegal immigrant K-12 students to educate at a cost to California taxpayers of approximately $2.2 billion annually, for example. Never mind that these students can't work, drive or vote once they graduate, unless they obtain fraudulent documents.

Taxpayers subsidize 96,000 illegal immigrant births in statewide county hospitals (200,000 nationally) at a yearly cost of $352 million. Then we have annual AFDC (TANF) costs for these new citizen children of nearly $552 million. Add another $557 million to incarcerate 23,000 illegal alien felons in California, plus $60 million health care costs for various services, and we're over $3.7 billion annually - out of our pockets, and against our overwhelming opposition to such outrages.

Eliminating this brutal migratory devastation involves two basic actions, enforcing our own immigration laws, and accepting the ugly reality that "we've met the enemy and it is us".

Three fundamental law enforcement steps must be taken to break the back of illegal immigration. First, our borders must be sealed. No more baloney about how difficult this might be. The INS instituted a Border Patrol crackdown six years ago in the El Paso sector, and then took it to San Diego a year later. In 1993, 90 percent of all illegal aliens crossed at border cities. Today, two-thirds cross in remote areas. Six years ago in the San Diego sector, 42 percent of all illegals surged through a 14 mile corridor near Imperial Beach. Another 22.6 percent entered in and around El Paso. Both sectors are now almost impregnable, as these flows have become trickles. So today's illegals are going where it's easier to get across, like Douglas, Arizona. The inescapable conclusion is that the crackdown has succeeded where sufficient resources have been applied. This isn't a matter of insufficient resources or wherewithal, it's a matter of insufficient willpower, as well as writing-off those individuals and organizations who want illegal immigration to succeed.

The next critical law enforcement step is to prosecute employers who hire illegal aliens. The Justice Department is hardly lifting a finger in this area. If there were no jobs, most illegal aliens would leave, or most wouldn't come in the first place. The fantasy of illegal immigration cheerleaders that the economy would collapse without illegal labor simply doesn't wash. Since when don't we enforce laws (or break them) in accordance with our own standards of right and wrong? I sometimes speed on California interstates, and I'm prepared for the fines if caught. But this doesn't excuse me from punishment, nor the CHP from enforcement.

This baloney about the need for "guest workers" is pure bunk. Both the California Division of Labor and the GAO have confirmed there are currently two farm workers for every agricultural job in California. This glut of farm workers has depressed agricultural wages over the past twenty years, in inflation adjusted terms, by 20 percent, and spawned deplorable working conditions.

Job opportunities for low-skilled workers have been declining for three decades. The continued influx of low-skilled, uneducated immigrants has depressed earnings and limited opportunities. Income disparity has widened as a result of too many low-skilled workers pursuing too few jobs.

A University of California (Davis) agricultural economist (and several other noted researchers) published "Poverty Amid Prosperity," a compilation of research findings on "The processes of immigration and its unexamined impacts on cities and towns." (July 1997; The Urban Institute Press) They offered the following analysis (on pp. 89-90) of the impact of farm worker wage increases on both grower expenses and the price of food:

And suppose that the entire cost of higher farm wages is passed on to consumers, so that the annual cost of the farm labor used to produce the fresh fruit consumed by the average American household rises from $8.60 to $13 and the cost of farm labor rises from $10.20 to $15. If these increased farm labor costs were completely passed on to consumers, spending on fresh fruits and vegetables eaten at home for a typical 2.6 person consumer unit would increase by less than $10, from $270 to almost $280.

I'd welcome the opportunity to pay higher consumer prices to rid our land of illegal immigrants. We'd lift an enormous financial albatross from our backs, and provide better educational opportunities for thousands of American kids to receive the full attention of teachers in schools crowded with the children of illegal immigrants.

Finally, to address perhaps the biggest lie of all - that Americans won't do the work that illegals perform, the truth is that uneducated and unskilled Americans won't live in garages with multiple families, and endure similar hardships to take on backbreaking work at below minimum wages. Get rid of illegal immigrants and wages would have to rise to attract those native-born and legal residents who lack the skills and education to do much else.

About deportation. With the exception of illegal alien felons incarcerated in various prisons, and those illegals caught by the border patrol, (at the border) deportations are virtually nonexistent. Yet there are six million illegal aliens in this country. We could make a huge deportation dent in this stealth population if we only had the commitment and determination to do so. Once again, it's a national administration attempting to curry favor with the wrong people.

About, "we've met the enemy and they are us," some conservatives and liberals support Cardinal Roger Mahony's statement, "the right to immigrate is more fundamental than that of nations to control their borders" - conservatives because they get their jollies from exploiting cheap labor, and liberals because it gives them another opportunity to smother someone with compassion. Added to these afflictions are the wishes of politicians to get reelected by ducking issues, and the hidden agendas of opportunists and ideologues to advance their causes.

As we speak there's a shameful piece of legislation on the California Governor's desk (AB 1463) to allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. This "breeder document" gives illegals a huge advantage in obtaining other documents to make them appear legal. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who, among other amazing utterances, says that, "the undocumented were here first."

Let's look at California's Proposition 187. This was a 1994 ballot initiative that barred illegal immigrant access to public social services, including education and public health care services, except emergency care. In November of 1994, 59 percent of the California electorate voted for Proposition 187. Of California's 58 counties, 49 voted yes.

The day after Proposition 187 passed, a federal court in Los Angeles, and a state court in San Francisco barred enforcement of most of its provisions. A federal judge kept this bottled-up for nearly 3-1/2 years before voiding it. Immediately thereafter the State of California appealed the decision, but because a conniving governor was soon thereafter elected - a person opposed to Proposition 187 - he saw to it that the initiative never reached the Supreme Court through the appellate process.

Just before Governor Gray Davis strangled Proposition 187 in April, 1999, he said with the most angelic of faces, "If this (Proposition 187) were a piece of legislation, I would veto it. But it's not. It's an initiative, passed by nearly 60 percent of the voters through a process specifically designed to go over the heads of the legislature and the governor. If officials choose to selectively enforce only the laws they like, our system of justice will not long endure." Davis then walked off the press conference stage and betrayed the people of California by stabbing them in the back.

Let's look at the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment which states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." But as the framers of that amendment made clear, not all persons in the United States were subject to its jurisdiction. American Indians and former slaves were the only substantial groups of non-citizens living in America in 1866. While the 14th Amendment conferred citizenship upon blacks, it didn't grant citizenship to American Indians in 1866 because it was believed they owed allegiance to their tribes and not to the United States. It wasn't until 1924 that Congress extended citizenship to all Native Americans.

Is it reasonable to believe that the authors of the 14th Amendment, in excluding citizenship for Native Americans, were making special allowances for any woman on this planet who sneaks under a U.S. border fence and delivers a baby? Is it rational to assume that those who actively defy the laws of the United States by illegal entry were granted the constitutional right to confer citizenship upon their children? Does it make any sense to believe that the 14th Amendment extended to the children of illegal aliens what it didn't extend to Native Americans? Since the answer to all these questions are obvious, it's clear that illegal alien under-the-fence maneuvers in 1866 weren't considered by the authors of the 14th Amendment to be a significant problem.

This was borne out when the Citizenship Clause was debated by the U.S. Senate on May 30, 1866. During that debate the issue of sneaky citizenship was raised. The Senate took the position that citizens of the U.S. were also citizens of a state, and if a state chose to deny citizenship to infants of parents, for cause, they could do so. Now times have changed, but it's crystal clear that the framers of the Citizenship Clause never intended that infants born in the U.S. to foreign ladies sneaking under American border fences should become U.S. citizens. Clearly, the 14th Amendment never extended to the children of illegal aliens what it didn't extend to Native Americans.

Beyond these annual 200,000 under-the-fence additions to our population that are unattributed to immigration, there lies a demographic time bomb with a twenty-one year fuse. It's called the Anchor Baby Syndrome. A main reason for coming to the U.S. to give birth is to jump the immigration queue, since the mother and her family are then related to a U.S. citizen. This allows the citizen-child at age 21 to petition for the admission of parents, brothers and sisters, their spouses and own children, and so on.

Do we have cause to stop these absurd practices? Sure we do because they violate the intent of the statute, the will of the people, and are hideously expensive - nearly $1 billion annually for 96,000 infants, just in California for just a single year. Considering the prodigious reproductive feats of many child bearing illegal immigrant women, the total costs for chain births stretching over periods of years are probably in the mega billions.

This issue of under-the-fence-citizenship for infants born to those criminally present in the U.S. has never been before the Supreme Court. Rep. Brian Bilbray of California is fighting an uphill battle in Congress to end these outrages.

Then there's the shameful AFL-CIO clamor for amnesty for 6 million illegal aliens, hoping lots of them will become union members. The AFL-CIO is attempting to line their pockets with membership dues over the short run, while rolling the dice with the futures of American workers. All this will do is end control of our borders and unleash terrible wage depression pressures on millions of American workers as hordes of foreigners surge across unprotected borders looking for American jobs.

We've clearly become our own worst enemies and will suffer a terrible fate unless we end this madness. A series of national administrations have buried their collective heads in the sand and ignored the acrid odors of the white hot burning fuse attached to the illegal immigration time bomb. There just aren't enough Roger Barnett's around, and that's what's necessary for us to retake our country. Just remember folks, the only card your opponents hold in their hands is the race-baiting card, the threat of calling you a racist or a bigot. But the collective votes of an ignored and aggrieved articulate voting population are the strongest cards of all, and if you chose to play them, it's a slam-dunk for the good guys.

Illegal immigration is repudiated by our laws, by the facts, and by most Americans. So, one more time folks, let's seal our borders, deport all illegal aliens, prosecute any employer hiring illegals, throw the rascals out who live on the Planet Beltway and kowtow to the illegal immigration lobby, and begin to pay close attention to the calamity that awaits us unless we do all of these things.

About the author

Michael Scott is a Southern California businessman who is "fed up with illegal immigration."