The Immigration and Naturalization Service announced last June that to “regain control of the border” the INS will now begin to deport and possibly jail aliens and smugglers entering our country illegally. If you’re wondering whether this hasn’t been INS policy all along, think again. In the Southwest, repeat offenders have traditionally been released just inside the Mexican border—not arrested, not fingerprinted, just released, often to be apprehended again later in the same night.

This catch-and-release policy has long been evidence not only of the federal government’s refusal to control illegal immigration, but of its ardent interest in its proliferation. Remember when Washington told us that the Immigration Reform Act of 1986, which amnestied 3.1 million illegal aliens, would not be the precedent for further amnesties but would merely acknowledge present realities? Washington lied. Last October the House passed the Family Fairness and Employment Opportunity Immigration Act of 1990 (H.R. 4300), and as of early November the bill had entered a conference committee where lawmakers are busy ironing out differences between the House and Senate versions. Sponsored by Democrat Bruce Morrison of Connecticut, the House bill grants two new amnesties to illegal aliens, increases family-chain migration, grants permanent resident aliens the same immigration privileges as citizens, and will cost the American taxpayer another $3 billion annually. The bill will increase legal immigration to this country from roughly five hundred thousand immigrants a year to seven hundred thousand a year in 1992, 1993, and 1994, and then reduce the level to 675,000 annually in subsequent years.

Congress’s timing is appalling. At the very time a 1990 Roper Poll shows that 77 percent of Americans, including 78 percent of blacks and 74 percent of Hispanics, oppose increasing immigration, that one out of five prisoners in American jails is an illegal alien (a figure that has risen 600 percent in the last decade), that unemployment is on the rise and a recession is on the way, and at the very time that Congress itself cannot figure out how to balance the federal budget at its present level without raising taxes on citizens legally residing in this country—it is now that our leaders propose one of the most sweeping changes in U.S. immigration policy in more than a quarter of a century. And amendments that would have forced Congress to reimburse cities and states for additional social service costs incurred by the new influx of immigrants were defeated on the House floor.

In other words, cities and regions hardest hit by these immigration waves can expect no help from Washington. Last June, when the California town of Costa Mesa banned the spending of local funds on aid for illegal aliens. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp personally intervened, arguing that no city has a right to restrict HUD funds. Nor can Californians expect much help from their state legislators. In 1989 the state passed a law providing medical coverage, including pregnancy care, for all illegal aliens who reside in California. Illegal aliens have openly told state investigators that the Medi-Cal program is their sole reason for migrating to America. Administrators of California hospitials and clinics now encourage illegal aliens to claim residency in California so that their facilities can claim Medi-Cal reimbursement.

The San Diego suburb of Encinitas, once a peaceful middle-class community known for its beautiful beaches and gardens, is reportedly now kneedeep in vagrants, panhandlers, squatter villages, and crime as a result of Mexican and Central American immigration. Ten years ago the Central Valley town of Merced had no Asian refugees. Now one fifth of its population, approximately 12,000, is composed of Laotian Hmong, 80 percent of whom are on welfare. The town of Santa Maria suffers the same problems. But when Santa Maria Mayor George Hobbs last year stated the obvious, that his city has “a Mexican problem,” he was denounced as insensitive, alarmist, racist, and nativist. Like quotas, affirmative action, gay rights, and issues of gender, immigration has become an intellectual no-man’s land where career-conscious scholars and prudent politicians must either tread lightly or dare not tread at all.

So let us tally the record. In virtually every Western and Southwestern state illegal aliens can receive free legal advice and free medical services, including pregnancy care. The City University of New York in 1989 lowered the tuition for illegal aliens. Illegal aliens in New York City, as in many other cities, can also legally demand both housing and education. In October Congress decided that, despite our current budget woes, another two hundred thousand immigrants should possibly be allowed in annually. Last May Washington set the potentially explosive precedent of giving asylum to a Chinese couple who wanted to defy Chinese law by having a second child, thus adding birth control to the growing list of “injustices” that now warrant entry to our country. And illegal aliens who actually want to become American citizens—why any of them would want to limit their entitlements by opting for citizenship is beyond me—can now enroll in the 40-hour cram course the federal government has established for aliens to prepare for their civics, U.S. history, and English proficiency exam. What this amounts to is a Princeton Review of citizenship funded by millions of tax dollars.

Luckily for themselves, members of Congress and Beltway think tank executives will not have to suffer the consequences of their policies and actions. Instead, it is the blacks and Hispanics and other struggling minorities who will have to suffer the heightened competition for jobs and low-cost housing that results with every new wave of immigration. It is the citizens of the Southwest and of Southern California in particular, who will have to watch crime, disease, and welfare skyrocket in their communities because Washington cares most about votes of special interest lobbies. And it is the cities and communities of the Pacific Northwest that also will suffer from immigration and migrations, migrations not of illegal aliens but of the scared and frustrated Southern Californians who are trekking there to escape the ravages of what they once called home.

The “Okies” of the 1930’s took to the road when they realized they couldn’t count on Washington to leaven their plight. The “Okies” of the 90’s have come to the same realization.