Thomas Sowell

Some people are worried that amnesty will give illegal aliens the same rights that American citizens have. In reality, it will give the illegals more rights than the average American citizen.

Since most of the illegals are Mexican, that makes them a minority. Under affirmative action, combined with amnesty, they would have preferences in jobs and other benefits.

Those who set up their own businesses would be entitled to preferences in getting government contracts. Their children would be able to get into college ahead of the children of American citizens with better academic qualifications.

Illegals who graduate from a high school in California can already attend the
University of California, paying lower tuition that an American citizen from neighboring Oregon.

Under the supposedly "tough" immigration bill in the U.S. Senate, illegals don't have to pay all the back taxes they owe. An American citizen gets no such break from the government and can end up in federal prison, like Al Capone.

If an American citizen gets stopped by the police for a traffic violation and the cops discover that he is wanted for some other violation of the law, they can arrest him for whatever else he has done.

But if an illegal alien gets stopped for going through a red light and the police discovers that he is in the country illegally, in many communities the cop is forbidden to arrest him for that -- or even to report him to the feds.

If an American citizen forges a Social Security card in order to get a job, he can be arrested. Under a provision recently passed by the Senate, illegal aliens who forged Social Security cards not only get a pass, they get to collect Social Security benefits.

The great majority of Senators who voted for that provision were Democrats, and they prevailed because they were joined by a small minority of Republicans, led by -- surprise! -- Senator John McCain. After similar defections on judges and free speech, Senator McCain may give opportunism a bad name.

What the immigration bill in the Senate has become is just another attempt to pander to another special interest, in disregard of how that affects the country as a whole.
 Much is made of the fact that there are supposedly 12 million illegals in the country already. The last time illegal aliens were given amnesty, back in 1986, that led to even more illegal aliens coming in afterwards.

Do we want 20 million or 30 million more illegal aliens in the future? Do we want to change the very composition of the American population, and with it the values of the country?

There was a time when immigrants came here to become Americans. But there are powerful pressure groups in this country, extending far beyond the immigrant community, doing their best to keep foreigners foreign and force Americans to accommodate their foreign language and culture in the name of "multiculturalism."

We have seen what havoc such notions and practices have created after mass immigration under "guest worker" programs in Europe, especially after the Muslim riots in France. Do we want that in the United States?

Most of the first generation of immigrants may want nothing more than a chance to work and will be happy to be here instead of in Mexico. But second generations born in this country compare their situation not with the situation in Mexico but with what other Americans around them have.

There are plenty of people, both inside and outside the immigrant community, who will fan their sense of grievance and exploit their resentments. This is not peculiar to people from Mexico. Europe has already experienced this.

Both the facts of the past and the dangers of the future are being ignored in the rush to give immediate benefits to illegal aliens, washed down with much talk about border control but no requirement that the border actually be controlled before these benefits go into effect.

The political strategy of this package deal legislation is to give immediate and irrevocable special benefits to some and make pious promises about the future to get all this past the others.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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