Linda Chavez
Now that the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed its own version of immigration reform -- a bipartisan effort that won support from four Republicans and all eight Democrats on the panel -- a real national debate on this important issue can begin. Last December, the GOP-controlled House passed punitive legislation that would criminalize the 12 million illegal aliens, along with anyone else who provides them with shelter, medical or other services. Both bills also promise beefed-up border security. The House version seems more likely to generate popular support among American citizens, but it is a shortsighted measure, which, if it becomes law, won't solve the current crisis.

Our immigration mess is like a three-legged stool. Fixing one leg is no better than doing nothing. We need immigration reform that addresses all three parts of this vexing problem: increased border security; a plan to deal with the illegal aliens already here (the vast majority of whom are hard-working, tax-paying and otherwise law-abiding members of our communities); and more flexible and realistic legal immigration policies that allow us to admit more permanent residents and guest workers as our labor needs require.

I know this approach drives the anti-immigrant crowd crazy -- but they are a small though noisy fraction of the public concerned with immigration. Unfortunately, these voices are driving the current debate, especially on conservative talk radio and cable news shows. I wonder how many conservatives who embrace the anti-immigrant message know that their fellow travelers' roots are in the pro-abortion, population-control movement.

Dr. John Tanton, who was the brainchild behind many of the most prominent restrictionist groups, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA, is a past president of Zero Population Growth. These groups often cite demographer Leon Bouvier's work to support their arguments. In his book "How Many Americans?: Population, Immigration and the Environment," Bouvier and co-author Lindsey Grant advocated reducing the American population to 150 million by the end of this century -- that's almost half the current population. Although they're guarded in suggesting any draconian measures to achieve this goal, averring that "Deliberate reductions in life expectancy to reduce population are, of course, out of the question," their prescriptions are nonetheless chilling.


Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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