Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let's talk ....Immigration

Welcome to America

Everyone has an opinion on Immigration, from the Mexican here on a work visa, the second generation Mexican-American to the European immigrants who arrived here in the early part of the 20th century. Each with a passion for their beliefs and an epistemological starting point that may we be difficult to argue with. Yet, this issue is one that needs to be address in the here and now as our national security truly depends on it.

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but former 1970's entertainer turned California Congressmen, Sonny Bono left me with a pearl of wisdom many, many years ago long before his death 1998. During a congressional sub-committee on immigration had linger on far too long and touch on topics that Bono felt irrelevant, he said something to the effect that if it is called "illegal" immigration than why are we even talking about it. It truly is and should be that simple. Unfortunately, there are so many mitigating circumstances that have developed over the last three decades that today immigration can only be called a labyrinth at best.

Here are some few know immigration facts. There are millions upon millions of illegal aliens in this country who obtained Social Security ID cards that were stolen from various government agencies or simply fabricated by individuals who quickly saw the marketability of such a business and charge anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for a card. Keep in mind that this illegal cards could have any Social Security number on it, it could be yours, mine or your next door neighbors. Suddenly, you have identity theft to deal with.

Then there is the issue of taxes. The next time you hear an advocate for illegal immigrants tell you that they pay taxes, know that is a half truth. While in college I worked in the restaurant business for a few years and while I was studying Spanish, I befriended many of these illegal aliens. They are usually good people, don't get me wrong, but more on that later. They have taxes taken out of their weekly pay, yes, that is correct but they claim a high number of dependents so that very little is taken out and, here is the kicker, they do NOT file taxes annually with the IRS. Meaning that they are never made to prove who their dependents are or made to repay if they under paid and etc. Yet, these same individuals are entitled to every type of federal program that you and I are. There children are entitled to an education in our schools, health care and the list goes on and on.

Sadly, for every illegal that comes her with honest intentions to carve out a new life in a new country, there are others with less than impressive intentions. Many come here, live at low levels only to save a significant amount of money that that send directly back to their mother country; part to help their family and part to build a home for them to return to in a few years. So many are here temporarily to take advantage of our system to then return home once they have achieved their financial objective. It is no secret that many who may well be here legally, are allowed to claim their family members in another country as their dependents, thus, through a Social Security loophole, billions, yes you read that correctly, billions of US dollars are sent to Mexico each year.

Mexico - ah yes - the land of sand and beaches. Well, it will be no secret to you that Mexico is a staunch supporter of the Immigration movement in the US. The Mexican government employs individuals in border towns to educate those attempting to cross over into the US on how and where to safely cross, where to find water as they cross and what to do once they get there. Face it folks, the Mexican economy needs illegal immigration to keep its poorer population at bay. If it weren't for the opportunities north of the border, Mexico would have another revolution on her hands.

Many US companies, large and small, depend on the illegal workers to do jobs that some Americans may feel is below them for a wage that is much higher than the same work would produce in Mexico. Therefore, it is more profitable to, for example, come to the US and work in a factory making $7 a hour vs. working in Mexico making half that for the same work. In the restaurant I worked in the management knew full well how this process worked. If an illegal came in to request work, after filling out their application, they would be asked to come back in a few days and if their Social Security number wasn't rejected by a "system" then they were allowed to begin work. If it was a bad number they were simply asked to "try again" with a different number. I had more than a handful of situation where I was asked to translate for the manager so this is not a secondhand story, and this happened all over in just about every restaurant in an area with a high Hispanic population.

The issue doesn't stop there. One co-worker asked me about my opinion on the following; his sister lived in Tijuana and she and her husband were expecting their first child. The husband worked in the US but lived in Mexico, crossing the border legally each day to work. Yet, his wife had yet to be naturalized. She was considering coming across the border into TX to have her baby because it would be free. This is a very regular occurrence in many of the border states and it is the direct cause for the high cost of health care in these states and the multitude of problems that the health care field is forced to confront due to this fact. Then the new twist is, of this baby is born in the US, he is now a US citizen and he is entitled to stay in the nation of his birth and later, this will serve as a way for the mother to receive naturalization in the US much easier than before.

Are you beginning to see the complications here?

Now let's open the door to the politicians! Those who would like to blame President Bush for everything from the war in Iraq, global warming and the death of Elvis, now after 9/11 want Bush to solve this problem without taking away a potential voting base for the Democrats. California in particular is the blue state that has the most to loose and also gain if immigration laws are implemented. But here is the thing, illegal immigration, for reasons obvious to national security should be quell immediately but this is the big mistake that many Americans make, the collectively lump Immigration and Illegal Immigration into one category. If you read here You will see that we need immigration to help in certain fields, medicine in particular but again, there is a gray area in regards to who gets the now famed "greed card" and who doesn't. The above linked article tells of abuses within the greed card system that prevents those who actually are needed here to work in place of those who use the green card to stay in the country with legalized family members without having to go through the process of naturalization. (Note: There cards are green anymore but the name is still used. Today's cards are pretty high tech with hallograms and the like to deter falsification.

How to fix this problem? It obviously cannot be fixed during the last two years of the Bush Administration but there are some thing that could be implimented to begin to better protect our borders. Immigration and Naturalization can being to crackdown on this illegal immigrants who are here without the proper papers and who are here without a family to complicate their status. They will be easier to return to their homelands and most likely will be a large number of individuals thus sending a powerful message.

We will continue with Immigration more I am sure as the months leading up to the '08 Elections approach.

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