“It is surely arguable that during the third century of
American existence the main problem of this
nation will be—it already is—that of immigration and
migration, mostly from the so-called Third World.”
Last year the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) apprehended 1.8 million illegal aliens along our southern border—less than half the number who tried to enter. This was in addition to approximately 500,000 legal immigrants, a number greater than the number of immigrants accepted by the other 150-odd nations combined.
Last fall, the Simpson-Rodino Immigration Reform Act passed into law. While it does attempt to discourage illegal immigration by providing penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, the law also grants amnesty for aliens who can document that they have resided in our country since before January 1, 1982. Given the easy availability of forged records and the generous attitude of volunteer organizations enlisted by the federal government to assist with amnesty processing (some of which have a record of sympathy with the sanctuary movement), the public’s demand for immigration control may have been subverted by the very legislation that has been enacted to cope with the problem.
Indeed, after a brief slowdown in border apprehensions from late fall through early February of this year, it is now clear that aliens are still coming in larger and larger numbers. Though the United States is a part of the Western world, only 5 percent of the legal immigrants last year came from Europe. The rest of the legal immigrants—and the overwhelming percentage of the illegals—came from the Third World. Many are from Mexico and Central America. But other people from India, China, the Middle East, and Africa are using Mexico as a trampoline to enter the United States. The San Diego border patrol office intercepted illegal aliens from 67 countries along its sector last year. This experience is true for stations in Texas. In Florida, in addition to increasing numbers of Cubans, Colombians, and Haitians, Sikhs and Bangladeshi have been among the foreign nationals caught trying to enter.
Twelve years ago, General Leonard Chapman, then Commissioner of the INS, warned: “Illegal immigration is out of control.” More recently. President Ronald Reagan testified that “This country has lost control of its own borders and no country can sustain that kind of position.” Yet, massive immigration continues and may be surpassing the all-time highs recorded at the turn of the 20th century. Nor has there been much public attention given to the question of how large-scale immigration will affect the future of the United States. As sociologists Glaister and Evelyn Elmer of Indiana University note, it is highly debatable “whether a population diversity unprecedented in a democratic country will lead to the great and tranquil society we all desire or to divisiveness and eventual disintegration.” Eric Severeid, the veteran CBS newsman and one of the first journalists labeled a “neoconservative,” expressed his concern for the future of our country. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor (January 28, 1987), he remarked that one of the “truly major issues” that must be dealt with is what he calls “the vast tidal wave of human beings” moving from the Third World into the Western nations. “There is fragmentation going on in this country,” he observes. “At what point,” he asks, “does cultural, racial diversity become a kind of social anarchy? How do you get national cohesion this way?”
It has been said that Americans would rather live with comfortable myths than confront “inconvenient” realities. John F. Kennedy’s pedestrian observation that “We are a nation of immigrants” (what nation isn’t?) is used by many as an excuse for failing to come to grips with the problems associated with the great influx of peoples we are experiencing today. The economic, social, public health, political, and national security dangers inherent in allowing immigration without limit to continue are real. We can no longer afford the luxury of pretending that they simply do not exist.
According to the latest figures from the Labor Department, over seven million Americans are currently unemployed; but this figure does not include those who are underemployed or those who have simply given up looking for work. During a time of sustained high un- and underemployment, the United States has been importing record numbers of foreign workers, both legal and illegal. Immigrants have been admitted without efforts to determine their labor-market impact. Vernon Briggs of Cornell University finds that only 5 percent of legal immigrants have come here because they possess skills that are in short supply in the U.S. or because they are especially distinguished in their fields.
It has often been noted that if aliens were displacing lawyers, bureaucrats, professors, and media personalities. swift action would be taken to halt the flood. But those most directly affected by aliens in the labor force are not people who make their living by verbal ability.
There are two common mistakes made about alien workers: first, that they are mostly engaged in seasonal agricultural labor, and second, that they generally take jobs that American citizens will not perform. In fact, relatively few foreign workers are farmhands or dishwashers. Only 15 percent of employed aliens work in agriculture. Most work in cities, in heavy and light industry, construction, and the service sectors.
Donald Huddle of Rice University has found that for every 100 aliens employed in a given employment sector, at least 65 Americans are displaced or remain unemployed. Among those most directly affected by alien job-seekers are members of our minority populations, teenagers, and part-time workers. It is increasingly difficult for entry-level applicants in parts of California, Texas, and Florida to find any employment without being able to speak a version of Spanish or some Asian dialect. Do we not have a prior responsibility to our homegrown entry and marginally employable before we admit more unskilled workers? It is all the more important to address the condition of our hard-pressed citizens, as it seems likely that technology will eliminate a large proportion of the relatively “simple” jobs in the service, office, and manufacturing areas. As Bruce Nussbaum commented in his book The World After Oil, “The last thing America is going to need in the years ahead is a flood of unskilled labor. As techno-casualties mount, a growing number of de-skilled people will be moving into the unskilled-labor pool. Hence a growing number of people, many of them furious at their new lower status in life, will be competing for a shrinking number of jobs.”
In recent years the INS has conducted a number of raids on job sites where large numbers of aliens have been employed. Aliens have often been found to be paid more than the minimum wage—frequently as much as $9.00 or $10.00 an hour. Prof Huddle estimates that 3.5 million Americans are unemployed because of illegal aliens. The citizens displaced from such jobs are a cost to all of us. And it is impossible to place a price tag on the damage done to families affected by alien-induced unemployment.
Defenders of liberal immigration policies often claim that aliens rarely use social services and actually contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits. Recent studies indicate that aliens are making heavy and increasing use of tax-supported services and often at higher rates than citizens do. For example:
—Nearly 80 percent of the infants born at Los Angeles County public hospitals are born to mothers who are illegal aliens.
—Ten percent of the population of El Salvador now lives in California. The State Department reports that Salvadorans residing in the Los Angeles area cost U.S. taxpayers a minimum of $875 million annually.
—Following the wave of Cubans and Haitians who were illegally permitted to remain in the U.S. in 1980, the state of Florida has had to spend an additional $500 million every year to meet the welfare demands of these uninvited residents.
—Thousands of Southeast Asians in California have continued to receive aid for a period ranging from four to 10 years, “raising the possibility that a permanent welfare class has emerged,” according to the Los Angeles Times (February 9, 1987). As many as 75 percent of those on welfare also earn unreported cash incomes in side jobs.
—A spot check conducted by the Illinois Attorney General revealed that 45 percent of the aliens who applied for jobless benefits were illegals.
Aside from the costs of welfare and education, America is being victimized by new gangs of alien criminals. The New York Times (March 21, 1987) reported that “As the Mafia’s role declines, the multi-billion-dollar heroin trade is increasingly being conducted by criminal organizations that together sound like a United Nations of drug smugglers, including Chinese, Thais, Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians, Afghans, Nigerians, and Israelis.” These new ethnic criminal organizations pose a major challenge to law enforcement, given the diverse languages and cultures represented. The President’s Commission on Organized Crime, in a final report issued in the spring of 1986, warned that Chinese and Jews from the Soviet Union were among the best organized crime groups. Jamaicans have been tied to hundreds of murders as well as gunrunning and drug trafficking across the United States. A Nigerian recently arrested for involvement in a large credit-card fraud ring told reporters that he especially liked Americans, “because they are so trusting.”
California, dubbed by Time magazine our first “Third World state,” is experiencing a new crime wave fostered by illegal aliens. Donna Coultice, INS deputy assistant regional commissioner in Los Angeles, reported this spring that “Illegal aliens are involved in one third of the rapes and murders and one fourth of the burglaries in San Diego County. In Orange County they account for over half of the homicides. . . . Aliens are responsible for about 90 percent of the narcotics trafficking in Santa Ana (CA) and 80 percent of that in Fullerton (CA). . . . Four hundred illegal aliens a month are added to the California prison system for various crimes.”
Some of the “prosperity” enjoyed by Miami and other towns in Florida, Texas, California, and Hawaii has been fueled by funds pouring into these areas by foreign-born criminals. As many as 40,000 hard-core criminals were welcomed by President Carter with “an open heart and open arms” when Castro initiated the Mariel exodus in 1980. In late April of this year, it was widely reported that Castro is organizing a new “boat lift.” The Washington Times of April 16 noted that among the potential new “refugees” are Cuban troops who have caught AIDS in Angola.
Our country is now faced by serious health problems related to immigration. The Third World is a culture flask for pathogens. Diseases previously unheard of in the United States, but prevalent in the Third World, are making their appearance here. Diseases once practically eradicated are breaking out again.
J. Michael McGinnis, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, told a national dental convention that “Along the border, we have a prevalence of diseases that we shouldn’t be seeing much of in modern Western society. We have higher rates of such things as malaria, tuberculosis, measles, rubella, rabies, and pertussis (whooping cough).” The recent reversal of the steady national decline in TB can be attributed almost entirely to the flood of immigrants. Dr. Shirley Fannin, associate director of Communicable Disease Programs for Los Angeles County, has pointed out that “All of these immigrants and refugee areas—Mexico, Central America, and Southeast Asia—are high endemic TB areas; so they literally bring the disease with them.” Over 90 percent of our several thousand lepers are refugees or immigrants from Asia and Mexico. Dr. Barry Dorfman, chief of refugee health programs for the state of California, advised in early May of this year that the U.S., especially the Western states, would experience more cases of leprosy as a result of recent immigration patterns.
Unfortunately, diseased aliens have ample opportunities to spread their illnesses to the general population. Aliens are heavily employed in the food and beverage sector of the economy. Few states and municipalities require persons employed in food handling to be examined for parasites or other potentially infectious health problems before they begin working. For example, last fall, eight people in suburban Washington, DC, came down with typhoid fever, caught at a well-known fast-food restaurant. Local health authorities tracked the typhoid to a salad prepared by an alien employee from a Third World country. And the Journal of the American Medical Association has reported on the high rate of AIDS infection found among both male and female Haitians residing in our country. Many of them admit to having participated in voodoo rites, where the bisexual priests spread the virus during the sex orgies that are a frequent feature of voodoo ceremonies. The threat to public health presented by Third World immigrants shows no signs of decreasing.
Along our southern border in particular, violence is increasing. U.S. Customs Chief William von Raab has described the situation as a “modern-day horror story” and noted the involvement of Mexican officials in drug smuggling and other criminal activity. John Gavin, while he served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, informed Mexican President de la Madrid that Mexican Defense Minister General Juan Arevalo was working in league with drug traffickers, but Gavin’s warning was ignored. The volume of drug-running and banditry is outstripping the ability of the border patrol and local law enforcement officials to keep up with it in many areas. Howard Ezell, western regional commissioner for the INS, said last November that “The situation is dangerously out of control.” Ezell recently authorized the construction of a concrete barrier to help block a five-mile stretch of the border at Otay Mesa, near San Diego, where alien and narcotics smugglers have been driving into our country in big vans. He has joined the chorus of voices calling for the creation of a cleared strip along the border, where nothing could be built. Even moderate Republican Senator Pete Wilson has broached the idea of establishing a military presence along our southern border, a proposal that enjoys widespread public support.
The economic and social problems associated with what amounts to virtually unrestricted immigration are symptomatic of the deeper malaise that seems to affect our society. Americans no longer hold common interests and outlooks. The long-cherished ideal of assimilation, which was feasible as long as we were people with shared traditions and culture, is giving way to what Brent Nelson identifies in his essay “Assimilation: The Ideal & the Reality” as “corporate pluralism,” where individual meritocracy is replaced by group rewards. The “Rainbow Coalition” championed by Democratic presidential contender Jesse Jackson illustrates what seems to be a trend. Among Hispanic activists, there is open support for separatist movements springing up in the southwestern United States. At the National Chicano Student Conference held last April at the University of Colorado, Devon Pena, a professor of sociobiology, proclaimed, “White, male America is desperate to conserve its power. The Third World is coming home to the First World and the political and cultural landscape will never be the same.”
Perhaps America will weather the storm. We may practically apply the rule laid down by James Madison in his famous report on immigration to the First Congress and “Welcome every person of good fame that really means to incorporate himself into our society, but repel all who will not be a real addition to the wealth and strength of the United States.”
But that seems less and less likely. Many Americans have already abandoned our major metropolitan areas, which, as Richard Lamm has noted, are becoming populated by the desperately poor and criminal classes. Now they are starting to flee parts of Florida, Texas, and California that have especially heavy concentrations of Hispanic and Asian immigrants.
The probable outcome of the process of social, cultural, and political disintegration—of which our immigration policies are a part—was suggested by Andrew Hacker in his book The End of the American Era (1970): “The United States is about to join other nations of the world which were once prepossessing and are now little more than plots of bounded terrain. Like them, the United States will continue to be inhabited by human life; however, Americans will no longer possess that spirit which transforms a people into a citizenry and turns territory into a nation.”