"An immigration system that forces people into the shadows of our society or leaves them prey to criminals is a system that needs to be changed," President Bush said last week at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
He was right that the system needs to be changed. But he was wrong that it forces people into the shadows.
On Monday, throngs of reportedly more than 1 million people nationwide, many of them undoubtedly illegal aliens, demonstrated just how wrong the president was by massing in our public squares to demand U.S. citizenship for illegal aliens.
Illegal aliens are not forced into the shadows of our society. They parade in the streets.
It may be more accurately argued that U.S. immigration law-enforcement officers are forced into the shadows.
When The Washington Times asked an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official how many of the demonstrators were illegal aliens, the ICE official said, "It's just impossible to know unless you sent agents to the rallies and asked every single person to prove they are legal residents."
The official told the Times, as the paper put it, that ICE "could not use its 5,500 investigators assigned to myriad cases to question more than 1 million protestors."
Talk about being outnumbered!
Indeed, had Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff actually sent all 5,500 ICE agents to Monday's demonstrations, the approximately 1 million demonstrators would have outnumbered those ICE agents by about 182 to one.
If Chertoff had taken all 11,000 U.S. Border Patrolmen off the border for the day and assigned them to work with all 5,500 ICE agents on checking the legal status of Monday's demonstrators, the demonstrators would have outnumbered the 16,500 immigration law-enforcement officers by about 61 to one.
Assuming there are 11.5 million to 12 million illegal aliens in this country, as the Pew Hispanic Center estimated last month, illegal aliens would outnumber DHS's 16,500 combined Border Patrol and ICE agents by as much as 727 to one.
But in a January 2005 report, "The Underground Labor Force Is Rising to the Surface," Bear Stearns analysts Robert Justich and Betty Ng estimated there were as many as 20 million illegal aliens in the United States. If they are correct, illegal aliens may already outnumber our combined Border Patrol and ICE agents by 1,212 to one.