Our immigration problems briefly received national attention last year when boatloads of illegal Chinese migrants landed on American shores. Yet, because many of these illegals made bogus claims of political asylum, some political leaders spoke as if asylum abuse were the only real problem. Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) set the record straight when he observed that reform of such abuse was only a “2 percent solution,” as it dealt with only 2 percent of the problem of illegal immigration. And, he might have added, it said nothing about the even greater problem of excessive legal immigration. This flow of quota immigrants, refugees, and asylees is at an all-time high. Most arrive from impoverished Third World countries, as do at least 300,000 more illegal aliens across our virtually uncontrolled borders. Thanks to these numbers and to higher birthrates for immigrants than for native-born citizens, America is racing to a Third World future.
Fortunately, at least some congressmen seem to perceive this bigger picture and have offered legislation to deal with the substance of the nation’s growing immigration crisis. The following is a summary of the leading proposals.
The most comprehensive is Senate Bill 1351 by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada). Among other steps, Reid’s bill would set a fixed annual limit of 300,000 on immigration and limit refugee admissions to 50,000 within the 300,000 total. The 300,000 ceiling, say many advocates of immigration control, is still too high. They prefer 200,000, a figure roughly equal to the number of people who leave each year. In any case, Reid deserves credit for the first serious proposal in many vears to put immigration quotas back in kilter with our ability to absorb and assimilate newcomers.
The limit on refugees is also a move in the right direction. Reform in this area is long overdue. By legal definition, a refugee is someone with a well-founded fear of persecution. By this definition, observed journalist Don Barnett at the Carrying Capacity Network conference in Washington last summer, nearly 90 percent of the 130,000 or so “refugees” now arriving each year are not true refugees, but simply people who think they’ll find greener political and economic pastures here in America. According to Barnett, some of the green quite often is federal taxpayers’ cash funneled through church resettlement programs for refugees. After these churchmen practice their “Christian charity” at other citizens’ expense, they route the “refugees” to the appropriate welfare agencies, which arc highly grateful for the new business. Refugees, unlike other categories of immigrants, are immediately entitled to the full range of welfare benefits.
Two other provisions of Reid’s bill would tighten safeguards against frivolous asylum claims and increase the size of the Border Patrol from 4,470 to 9,900. The Reid bill is a good framework for reform, but other proposed measures could strengthen it and fill in gaps needing attention. One is an additional remedy for asylum abuse. Representative Bill McCollum’s (R-Florida) House Bill 135?, which would allow exclusion of asylum applicants using false documents. A further measure to round out the Reid plan is Representative James Traficant’s (D-Ohio) House Bill 1017, which would authorize deployment of 10,000 federal troops on our borders as an emergency measure to stop illegal immigration.
Claims of some congressmen to the contrary, emergency deployment of troops for border protection is allowable under the law. If the present situation is not an emergency, then what is? The military-has often assumed a police role to contain disorder. Deploying troops will show we are serious about protecting our sovereignty and laws. (If we’re not willing to guard them, then why even have a military?) Also, it will take at least a couple of years to recruit, train, and deploy the number of Border Patrol officers envisioned by the Reid bill. In the meantime, we cannot allow the situation to get further out of control.
Not all illegals can be stopped at the border. For those who get through, backup measures are necessary. The package of illegal immigration control bills offered by Representative Elton Gallegly (R-California) offers some good possibilities. One, H.R. 1079, would create tamper-proof identification (as does Raid’s bill) for purposes of verifying employment eligibility. Gallegly’s measure would also fund research into a computerized call-in system for employers to verify workers. These steps are necessary to remedy the ease with which illegal aliens now obtain employment. The 1986 law banning the hiring of illegals made no provision for secure identification to allow employers to distinguish between legal and illegal residents. As a consequence, illegal aliens have freely used counterfeit documents to obtain American jobs.
Another Gallegly bill, H.R. 1080, would end federal benefits for illegal aliens. Among those benefits are pregnancy care and delivery for illegal alien women. Also, when these women have children in the United States, under current interpretation of the 14th Amendment, the children are U.S. citizens. As citizens, the children may receive the full range of benefits available to any other citizen. And, in most cases, their illegal parents are allowed to stay here with them. To stop this abuse Gallegly has proposed that citizenship, in such cases, be limited to the children of mothers who are legal residents. (Reid’s bill offers the same provision, but Gallegly deserves credit for being the first in Congress to propose it.) His bills to carry out this reform are H.R. 1191 and H.J. Res. 129. The former assumes that it can be done by federal legislation alone; the latter provides for a constitutional amendment if that is required.
The objectives of the legislation outlined above are the bare minimum of what must be done to secure genuine immigration reform. And they will not come easily. Frankly, most congressmen would rather cater to pro-immigration interests—corporations feeding on cheap immigrant labor, multi-culturalism-pushers, etc.—than to average Americans. Sustained public outcry is the only force that can turn the tide. As one speaker recently advised immigration-control activists in San Diego, “Politicians will see the light when they feel the heat.”