Former senator and probable Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson brought Virginia Republicans to their feet last Saturday night in Richmond when he said the public no longer believes in politicians who promise to secure the U.S. border as part of a bipartisan immigration bill.
"You've got to secure the border first, before you do anything," said Thompson. "The members (of Congress) say it's right here in this bill: the border. The response is, ŒWe don't care what's on a piece of paper - secure the border.' The piece of paper doesn't secure the border."
Thompson claimed the bill now being debated in the Senate is "the same deal" offered in the 1986 amnesty: legalization of aliens in exchange for border security. He said the public won't be fooled again.
When Thompson speaks of distrusting Washington politicians, he is including Republicans and President Bush, who in recent weeks - in company with members of his administration - have taken to labeling opponents of the bill xenophobes and nativists, even suggesting some are racists.
Among many reasons to distrust the immigration bill is the failure of the administration to convince the public it would hold accountable people who break a new law, when they have been lax enforcing existing laws. If illegals refuse, or claim they can't pay the proposed $5,000 fine to obtain a legal visa, or if they abscond, as many have, will the government then roll out the buses and jets and deport them, along with family members who were either born here or allowed to immigrate as part of the "chain migration" that has brought so many in the past?
In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel, the president again asserted there will be economic benefits to the country from permitting millions more foreigners to live among us. Strassel writes, "Studies have shown that immigrants add some $10 billion annually in net economic output." That is misleading.
A new report by The Heritage Foundation says the American taxpayer pays for tens of billions of dollars in services and other benefits to households of low-skill immigrants, many of them illegal.
Analysts Robert Rector and Christine Kim write that on average, each of these 4.5 million households receives nearly three dollars in taxpayer-funded services for every dollar it pays in taxes. They say that while low-skill immigrants paid an average $10,573 in taxes in fiscal 2004, they received nearly three times as much - $30,160 per household - in government benefits and services for a "fiscal deficit" of $19,587.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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