Illegal entitlement is not an option

Herman Cain
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Posted: Apr 19, 2006 12:05 AM
The movement to grant amnesty and eventual U.S. citizenship to some 12 million illegal aliens has turned the issue from the sounds of silence to the sounds of entitlement.

The entitlement mentality did not begin in America, but it has flourished here in the last century. The American claim on entitlements to health care, retirement income and seemingly any “right” one can conceive was birthed from the womb of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, reared by Kennedy’s New Frontier and came of age in Johnson’s Great Society. U.S. citizens, fanned by the flames of those who encourage class warfare, are increasing their demands for government-redistributed income and programs that guarantee outcomes, not opportunities. Non-citizens are now voicing the sounds of entitlement to an easy road to citizenship.

The entitlement attitude that has been ingrained in millions of Americans has blinded them to the ineffectiveness and runaway costs of their favorite programs. The fiscal challenge in meeting the future demands of the Medicare and Medicaid programs is well documented, as is the coming bankruptcy of the Social Security system. Yet few elected officials dare to even utter those programs’ names in public for fear of electoral retaliation.

Too many Americans also claim an entitlement to additional health care coverage from their employers. If they do not receive health care as a benefit, they believe the government should mandate it. The Maryland state legislature last year enacted a law requiring companies with over 10,000 employees to contribute 8 percent of total payroll to employees’ health care. The legislature is now looking at ways to require all employers, including non-profit organizations, to pay a percentage of their employees’ health care costs. Other states are considering the same plan.

Illegal aliens know they can receive free health care in hospital emergency rooms, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. A little publicized provision in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act set aside $250 million in taxpayer dollars to reimburse hospitals for costs associated with treating illegal aliens. In a twist of logic only Congress could conceive, hospitals are barred from asking an emergency room patient if they are in the U.S. illegally. The long-run cost of this provision will surely skyrocket as hospitals continue to submit claims on coverage of people who may be illegal aliens.

Illegal aliens living and working in the U.S. have now co-opted the entitlement mentality present in too many Americans. Worse, their demands for the right to vote, guaranteed by our Constitution to citizens only, and access to social services are encouraged by elected officials trying to buy their future votes. At recent rallies Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), to name just two, argued that illegal aliens must be allowed to remain in the U.S. and put on the path toward full citizenship rights. In other words, let’s skip the illegal part.

In addition to demands for voting rights, health care coverage and U.S. citizenship, many illegal aliens feel they are entitled to U.S. soil itself. Two groups that have helped organize the illegal alien rallies across the country, the Aztlan Movement and the Mexica Movement, believe it is American citizens who are in fact on their continent illegally. The Aztlan Movement seeks to create a separate nation comprised of northern Mexico and parts of the American Southwest, including California, Arizona and New Mexico. Members of the Mexica Movement, who waved signs at recent rallies that read “This Is Our Continent, Not Yours”, seek to completely remove Americans from North America and surrender control of the U.S. to Mexico.

The entitlement and class warfare mentality fostered for a century by liberal presidents, congressional leaders, labor union leaders and heads of liberal organizations in fact obscures their real goal. They seek complete government control of our lives and our businesses, which ultimately can only be achieved with your vote. Since the inception of the income tax code in 1913, to the birth of the Social Security system in 1935 and the programs that have followed, the end goal is always bigger government. It is also important to remember that those who occupy the positions of power will try to achieve their goal by any means possible. If it takes convincing the public that our planet is somehow warming because we drive cars with the air conditioner running, then so be it. If it takes increasing entitlement spending programs to 100 percent of the federal budget, so be it. Whatever it takes.

The United States would never have become the United States had the litany of entitlement programs and the unnatural attitudes they foster been in place in the 1800s and early 1900s. This was the time when newly freed slaves struck out to work on achieving their own dreams, when American expansion and settlement headed west, and when millions of Europeans crossed the Atlantic for a hard but better life. The only thing promised was abundant opportunity, given in exchange for assimilation and adherence to the rule of law.

We must demand that our president and Congress secure our borders and our sovereignty as a nation of laws and citizen rights. To those who enter this country legally, welcome to America. Illegal entitlement is not an option.