President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and several others are promoting new laws that would grant amnesty or guest-worker status to millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States and to an indefinite number of foreign workers. All these bills should be rejected on moral grounds.
Inviting foreigners to come to America as guest workers is like saying: You people are only fit to work the menial jobs that Americans think they are too good to work. We will let you come into the United States for a few years to work low-paid jobs, but you have no hope of rising up the economic and social ladder.
The various bills differ in whether or when the guest workers will be expelled back to the poverty they came from, but the bottom line is to create a subordinate underclass of unassimilated foreign workers, like serfs or peasants in corrupt countries. That's not the kind of economy that made America great.
America welcomes immigrants who want to be American, who come to the United States legally, obey the laws and the Constitution, and learn to speak English. Most start with entry-level jobs, but they get the opportunity to rise up and realize the American dream.
France and Germany have demonstrated the folly of guest-worker economies. In France and Germany, foreigners were admitted to toil at low-wage jobs. Now, both countries host thousands of foreign residents who fail to assimilate, burden the social welfare system, and become more disgruntled and dangerous every year.
Amnesty or guest-worker programs in the United States would help to perpetuate Mexico's corrupt economic system, a system which makes a few people very rich, but a system that traps most Mexicans in abject poverty. Mexico's enormous oil reserves are state-owned, yet proceeds from their sale don't benefit the general population. And some wealthy Mexicans are glad when their unemployed countrymen can find work elsewhere.
An amnesty or guest-worker plan would reward lawbreakers. The guest workers would be exempted from punishment for breaking U.S. immigration laws by entering our country illegally, or by using fraudulent documents. And employers would be exempted from punishment for hiring them.
Some U.S. employers commit a double offense when they choose to pay illegal workers in cash to evade payroll taxes yet provide benefits to those same illegal workers. Government tolerance of this vast underground economy is unjust to honest businessmen and law-abiding taxpayers.
An amnesty or guest-worker program is unjust to the millions of people who complied with U.S. immigration laws, stood in line, and patiently waited their turn to win legal residence in the United States.
Some people argue that it is compassionate and Christian to welcome the immigrants who illegally cross into the United States. On the contrary, it is uncaring and immoral to close our eyes to the crime on our southern border.
Failing to close our border to illegal immigration also means giving up the war on drugs. It is a fact that most illegal drugs entering the United States are smuggled in along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican drug cartels are even running illegal marijuana farms inside U.S. national parks, protected by booby traps and machine gun-carrying guards.
Human smuggling across U.S. borders is an organized criminal racket that ought to be stopped. The number of illegal crossings has significantly increased since Bush began talking about his guest-worker plan. That's no surprise; the amnesty granted in 1986 quadrupled the number of illegal immigrants.
Smugglers charge thousands of dollars for the promise to smuggle illegal immigrants across the border, and then often hold them for ransom until additional payments are made. Hundreds of border crossers die from thirst and dehydration when crossing the desert on foot, or in locked trucks without air or water.
How many people must die before the government seizes control of its borders and finally convinces smugglers and their clients that entering the United States illegally is not worth the risk?
Legal immigrants must be healthy to be admitted, but nobody is giving health examinations to the people smuggled across the border. Consequently, illegal immigrants are carrying in diseases that were formerly unknown in the United States. They are also reintroducing diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria and leprosy, that had been eradicated in the United States decades ago.
Failure to control the U.S. border means that Arizonans live in fear of illegal immigrants who cross their land every night, tearing down fences and killing their livestock and pets. Many U.S. citizens believe they cannot go outside their own homes without a gun and a cell phone.
The most moral and humanitarian thing we can do is to erect a fence and double our border agents in order to stop the drugs, the smuggling racket, the diseases, and the crimes.
President Theodore Roosevelt left words that are relevant today about the folly of valuing people only for the low-paid work they do. "Never under any condition should this nation look at an immigrant as primarily a labor unit," he said. "We cannot afford to continue to use hundreds of thousands of immigrants merely as industrial assets while they remain social outcasts and menaces any more than 50 years ago we could afford to keep the black man merely as an industrial asset and not as a human being."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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