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Illegal immigration: Something needs to be done (Part 2)

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By The Staff

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimated in February 2003 that the illegal alien population in Virginia was about 103,000 residents as of January 2000, nearly double the previous estimate of about 55,000 in 1996. That in turn was nearly 31 percent higher than in 1992. By 2005 it was about 192,000. Nationally the latest estimate of illegal aliens is about 11 million persons.

...The Center for Immigration Studies, a non-partisan, non-profit think tank founded in 1985, points out that if immigration continues at current levels, the nation's population will expand to 468,000,000 in 2060, a 56 percent increase. Future immigrants plus their descendants will account for 105 million of the increase. In 2002 there were 380,000 births to illegal aliens nearly 10 percent of all U.S. births. If net immigration that has been soaring for five decades continues this way, the figure of course will be higher.

The Pew Hispanic Center, a non-partisan research organization, reported a large number of Mexicans in a 2006 survey said they would come to the U.S. immediately if they had "the means and opportunity." Twenty one percent said they would do so even if they had to come illegally. A 2000 Zogby International poll reported that 58 percent surveyed believed that "the territory of the United State's Southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico." The other major motive is that the typical Mexican worker earns one-tenth his American counterpart and numerous American businesses are willing to hire cheap and compliant labor from abroad. ...While it is technically illegal to hire someone who doesn't have a valid Social Security card or employment visa, that hasn't kept the vast majority of illegal immigrant men from getting jobs.

The U.S. Census 2002-2005 shows that immigrant workers are a majority of workers in only 4 of 473 job classifications: stucco masons, tailors, produce sorters and beauty parlor salon workers. ...Businesses and individuals that claim they can't find employees they need do not have to look far to find out how their competitors manage to do so. Even very dangerous work in mines does not lack for applicants because employees are paid accordingly. Those who cut corners with cheap labor must also re-evaluate the quality of their management skills. Reasonable wages are what Americans respond to. Labor shortages have also created new equipment and methods of getting a job done. Not all businesses survive even under the best conditions. Others deliberately cheat.

Based on Census Bureau data consider the following. Illegal alien households are estimated to use $2,700 a year more in services than they pay in taxes, creating a total fiscal burden of nearly $10.4 billion on the federal budget in 2002. ...These figures do not include expenses to states, counties and local governments. If these illegals were legalized and began to pay taxes and use services like legal immigrants with the same education levels, the increase per household would rise to nearly $7,700 for a total federal deficit of $29 billion not to mention states, counties and local expenses. ...

Businesses that hire illegals boast that prices are less for the consumer. They never mention that the taxpayer then has to pay more for all the expenses illegals create in a wide variety of areas. George Borjas, an economics professor at Harvard University, has found that between 1980 and 2000 legal and illegal immigration reduced the average annual earnings of U.S. born men by an estimated $1,700. When one considers just the 10 million men who lack a high school degree, the increased supply of workers depressed wages by 7.4 percent.

These illegals are also handicapped because so few speak English and have low levels of education. A majority are most apt to be employed in low-skilled occupations. As it is, the number of people lacking proficient literacy skills is projected to jump from 70 million in 1992 to 119 million in 2030 with Hispanics four times as likely as whites to be at the lowest literacy level. ...

Since learning is almost all based on language, we must be concerned with what our official language in this country should be. Americans assume it is English and always will be. Unfortunately this is being challenged by immigrants who speak different languages in their home country. It is even being challenged by 33 U.S. Senators in a 2007 vote including senators running for the presidency.

Bilingual education now doubles the cost of an immigrant's schooling. We require state and local governments at over 1,000 polling locations to print election ballots in foreign languages at a cost of 27 million annually. Driver's license exams are now offered in foreign languages in almost 90 percent of states at an estimated annual cost of $8.5 million a year. Any healthcare professionals and hospitals receiving federal funds are required to pay for translators for non-English speaking patients on demand at a cost of over $267 million per year. Executive Order 13166 mandates that all government agencies and organizations receiving federal funds offer programs and services in foreign languages. There are 322 languages spoken in America today, a 52 percent increase in only 10 years. They are scattered all over the country. Addressing this costs an estimated $3.2 billion a year in taxpayer money.

We must also consider another factor. Justice Department data shows that people who have broken an immigration law and were released by local or state authorities because not enough jail space was available, shows they may have been charged up to six more times for more serious crimes. Every year there are thousands of illegals who are charged with or convicted of crimes by state authorities. Employers who want to verify the work eligibility of their new hires can participate in E-Verify, a free voluntary system operated by the Department of Homeland Security that allow participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers.

Where all these people live is very important to members in Congress. Representation there is based on the 2000 census. Illegals can't vote or contribute to campaigns but they have great political clout nonetheless because it skews the House apportionment process, especially for California. This also tilts power in presidential elections since the Electoral College is based largely on House seats. Almost 7 million illegal aliens were counted in the 2000 Census. Between 1979 and 1997 immigrant households increased their representation in our population by 68 percent. Over that same time their share of the total poor population increased 123 percent. The gap between native and immigrant poverty rates tripled between those years. Although immigrants were once significantly more entrepreneurial than natives, this is no longer true.

What to do about illegal immigration? There are a variety of things to do in addition to strengthening our borders. There are more than 500,000 "fugitive aliens" who have been deported by judges and either slipped back into the country or never left. Proper numbers of detention facilities are now being established which is helping significantly. Meanwhile between 2000 and 2005 the number of native-born men 16 to 34 who were employed declined by 1.7 million; at the same time, the number of new male immigrant workers increased by 1.9 million.

*There must be meaningful sanctions on employers large and small that employ illegals. Since these people are almost always in need of a job they may literally rely on the job coming to them. Relatives, friends, smugglers, even tapping into an underground employment network that matches employer and potential employee can yield a job before the trip north is made.

*Public colleges should be prohibited from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrations. Better yet they should be prohibited from attending state colleges at all.

*If we are lacking nurses or whatever we should train our own students accordingly.

*Most immigrants may operate in a cash economy outside the formal banking system where they have neither credit nor identity. This should not be exploited by banks through the Federal Reserve's own automated clearing house. The amounts are not significant. According to the Inter-American Development Bank Latin American migrants in the U.S. transferred $53 billion or more to their native countries in 2005 with the figure rising. $20 billion went to Mexico. Mexico gets more money from this source than from tourism.

Since Congress refuses to enact the necessary legislation and/or fund it adequately, states and counties are increasingly filling the gap. North Carolina right next door has had a greater increase in foreign-born population over the last 15 years than any state in the nation, a 412 percent increase, almost five times the national average. It can and is spreading here. We don't want to allow them to immigrate here. Colorado and Georgia have been the first states to confront the problem with sweeping laws that aim to require proof of citizenship for services and target employers who hire illegals. Overall 27 states have done so according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bedford County and Virginia can and must do the same.