The new Democratic Congress and Senate have just begun their work. It seems that they will take a color-by-the-numbers approach to their first 100 days. In other words, they will attempt to address some of the reasons Americans asked for political change – the war and political corruption. Aggressive clear cut action on these issues will strongly bolster their support and prove that there is a new sheriff in town.
This is a wise strategic approach except that they are not addressing the 800 pound gorilla sitting in the room along with these concerns. The gorilla leering at the nation from the corner of the room is the problem of U.S. immigrations policy.
Immigration is perhaps the second most important issue of the next two years - after the war in Iraq. The reason for its importance is five-fold:
1. The cost of many American products and services will go up as “illegals” are prosecuted or given amnesty.
2. Domestic security can be breached by Al Quaeda and other groups.
3. Hardened criminals and gang members are crossing the borders along with eager workers seeking a better life.
4. The availability of meaningful work for minorities and other Americans at the lower end of the economic spectrum will shift dramatically based upon the direction taken.
5. A dynamic increase in the number of Hispanic voters could shift the balance of power in U.S. politics.
The recent treatment of Hispanics, West Indians, and others in the immigration process could well be called “the new slavery.” Legal immigrants have taken low paying and dangerous jobs in order to make ends meet. On the other hand, illegal aliens have slipped into the nation and are beginning to undermine the delivery of basic services in education, healthcare, and law enforcement.
In addition, the INS has been very arbitrary in how it enforces the current laws. Individual legal aliens from African and Caribbean nations sometimes feel persecuted. Conversely, illegal Hispanics seem to be treated too leniently. In addition, there seems to be a mysterious lack of enforcement of the rules and regulations as far as businesses are concerned.
Neither party wants to take this issue on immediately. Democrats and Republicans alike are avoiding moving immigration to the front burner. Although everyone knows of the Republican division around the theme of immigration, the Democrats may be just as divided behind the scenes. No one plans on making it an issue in the first 100 hours or first 100 days of the 110th Congress. In fact, the Democrats have set the 6 following areas as their next focus:
1. Real Security at Home and Overseas
2. Better American Jobs – Better Pay
3. College Access for All
4. Energy Independence – Lower Gas Prices
5. Affordable Health Care – Life-Saving Science
6. Retirement Security and Dignity
The GOP may also feel that immigration may be a little too hot to handle immediately because of the fallout they received in the last election. President Bush’s immigration policy proposals which included a guest worker program became quite divisive. There are two camps who oppose guest worker programs: 1.) those who want enforcement first and followed by guest worker programs and 2.) those who want enforcement only, like Tom Tancredo.
Rhetoric like “we will lose our national character" may have caused members like Henry Bonilla (TX) to loose their seats. Further, J. D. Hayworth (AZ) drew a line in the sand with his book: Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security and the War on Terror. As a result of this immigration stand, connections to Abramoff, and a myriad of other issues, Hayworth lost his seat in Congress. Overall, the GOP dropped about 15 points in Hispanic support during the midterm elections.
Perhaps the biggest sign that we are ignoring the gorilla is the case of the two U.S. border patrol agents who have been sentenced to decade-long prison terms for apprehending an illegal alien at our border. These agents shot and wounded an escaping illegal alien, drug smuggler in the rear end.
The drug smuggler, who was given immunity for testifying against the agents, is now suing the U.S. for $5 million. He claims that he was permanently injured. Since the incident 18 months ago, the smuggler has been arrested for bringing an even larger amount of drugs into the U.S. in an unrelated case.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that immigration reform is the second most significant issue on our political plate. I call upon conservatives to begin to develop a clear approach to the problem. I personally plan to help mobilize the evangelical Christian movement, including the black church, to take an anti-amnesty stand while vigorously protecting our borders.
In future articles, I will talk more about the moral, social, and biblical reasons for my position. In the meantime, I have just signed a petition calling for the President to pardon these two border agents. Further, I am asking you to join with me by contacting your lawmakers and calling the White House -202-456-1111.