Jon Sanders

In this post-September 11 climate, the national-security concerns speak for themselves. Regarding the latter, the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector projects that this amnesty plan could cost the U.S. $50 billion annually and would result in "the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years." As Rector showed, immigrants were once less likely to be on welfare than native-born Americans, but now they are more 50 percent more likely, and their likelihood of being on welfare grows the longer they live in America.

Americans by and large are not going to complain about people coming here who embrace the traditional American values of hard work, freedom from government meddling, and individual rights. But the prospect of rewarding 10 million illegal immigrants – people whose first act in this country was disrespect for its laws and sovereignty – with all those welfare benefits positively alarms them.

At their core, Americans still cleave to the ideal of America as a land of opportunity, beckoning to those around the world yearning to breathe free. This is the legacy they wish to pass on to future generations of Americans, no matter from where their ancestors hail. What it means to be an American has always been an inherited ideal rather than a genetic trait, and it is this ideal that is ultimately at stake. A rapidly growing graft of citizens whose experience with what it means to be an American is to have fellow citizens on the hook for your food, housing, education, medical care, and the same for your parents is going to have a positively Marxist take on the American ideal.

That is the dish set before Senate now with this amnesty bill. We don't know why they've already dined on so many other bad ideas. But this one's worse, it's bigger, and it doesn't address past follies, it outdoes them. Away with it.

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.