February 20, 2013
Make no mistake about it. The single most important issue that Congress will face this year is comprehensive immigration reform or, more accurately, amnesty. That’s not to slight the fiscal cliff, climate control or some sensible form of gun restrictions.
But If 11 million illegal aliens are granted legal permanent residency whether or not it leads to citizenship, every American’s life will be adversely affected. Along with legal residency status comes work authorization. For the family bread winner, that means more job seekers willing to work for lower than the existing wage would enter the market.
Furthermore, new green card holders can petition for unlimited numbers of extended family members including aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews—the phenomena known collectively as chain migration— which will drive United States population ever higher. By 2060, the Census Bureau’s Population Project study showed that an additional 100 million people will be added to the current 315 million residents. In a parallel study, the Pew Hispanic Center found that about 85 percent of the increase will be made up of immigrants, their children and grandchildren. If the raw numbers are too big to grasp, imagine your town with 40 percent more people vying for school seats, hospital beds, housing and parking spaces.
Enforcement advocates, the vast majority of Americans, have coped with decades of disappointment. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act promised but never delivered increased border security and heavy sanctions on employers who hired illegal immigrants. Amnesty passed but internal and border enforcement never happened.
In 1996 as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, Congress passed an exit-entry law that would allow the U.S. to ensure that those who enter on non-immigrant visas go home on the expiration date. Not only is visa monitoring commonplace worldwide, it’s an essential ingredient to reduce illegal immigration. Approximately 45 million U.S. visitors enter on non-immigrant visas each year but many overstay. An estimated 4 million of today’s 11 million illegal aliens have violated their visa’s terms.
In 2011, the House Judiciary passed the Legal American Workforce Act that would have mandated E-Verify, an online program to determine if new hires and existing employees are legally authorized to hold jobs. House speaker John Boehner refused to bring the bill to the floor for a full vote.
Those frightened by the hundreds of stories about Social Security and Medicare’s impending bankruptcy or the Affordable Health Care Act’s costs should keep their fingers crossed that amnesty fails.
Initial cost projections made by Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation indicate that at least $2 trillion in extra funding would be required to cover benefits new legal residents would be entitled to receive. Whether the money will come from higher taxes or program cutbacks, Americans lose.
Unlike bills that might raise taxes which could be overridden in the future, amnesty is forever. Once someone who’s been illegally in the country is forgiven and officially permitted to stay, he won’t be returning home.
Here’s the most important thing to remember during the months of debate that lay ahead: the White House’s often repeated claim that amnestied aliens will go to the back of the line is false. There is no back of the line. Starting with day one, work permits, social services and chain migration will take effect. From then on, like it or not, nothing will be revoked.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at email@example.com