Border security: an oxymoron

Posted: Dec 13, 2002 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- This week, when federal authorities arrested workers at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway Airports for unlawfully possessing security badges, "open borders" advocates were outraged because several of those apprehended were illegal immigrants. Apparently the "rights" of those who break America's laws by entering our country illegally outweigh the safety of law-abiding American citizens. It's nothing new. But it's getting worse. Two weeks ago in Atlanta, federal agents caught employees of the Social Security Administration doubling as street vendors, selling Social Security numbers to illegal aliens. And last month in Charlotte, N.C., the feds busted a fraud ring selling bogus immigration papers to aliens from Hong Kong, Malaysia and communist China. In Texas, hospitals located near the Mexican border are reporting losses of up to $200 million annually attributable to illegal immigrants who cross the border to obtain emergency medical care, which U.S. hospitals are obligated to provide. Hospitals located on the border in California and Arizona face the same problem. In Arizona, the frustration with lax borders has gotten so bad that several armed "citizen-militia" groups help police the border. Meanwhile, in Washington, the politicians are fiddling while the borders burn. Neither party seems to be interested in stopping the tidal wave of illegals. The Democrats designed "motor voter" -- the process of registering to vote simultaneously when applying for or renewing a driver's license. And in 1996, William "The Zipper" Clinton and his pal Al benefited by naturalizing 1.3 million immigrants (four times the average number), despite the fact that 60,000 of them turned out to have criminal records. The GOP doesn't do much better. Most Republicans seem to believe that immigration control has replaced Social Security reform as the new "third-rail" of American politics. They believe this, despite the fact that California Gov. Pete Wilson cruised to re-election in 1994 by advancing the sensible view that illegal aliens are not "entitled" to the same welfare benefits and public services that resident aliens and citizens in the United States enjoy. Wilson was later blamed for the plummeting level of Hispanic support for the Republican Party. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., a longtime proponent for protecting our borders, is the latest Republican to feel the lash. When he contested a Denver Post feature on how illegal alien Jesus Apodaca feels persecuted because he's not allowed to pay discounted, in-state college tuition rates, he -- rather than Apodaca -- was pummeled in the press and by members of his own party. He's not alone. Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, a Republican, is being battered for suggesting that public colleges and universities in the commonwealth should deny enrollment to illegal immigrants and report those illegals on campus to federal authorities. Unfortunately, Tancredo and Kilgore are nearly alone in their efforts to deal with the problem. American businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, powerful members of their own party and liberal activists are all allied against them. So are our "neighbors." They don't want their own people back -- they have unemployment problems of their own. Canada has objected to any measures that would impede traffic across our northern border. Mexico is now issuing special identity cards to its illegal aliens in America through Mexican consulates. Available for a $29.00 fee, the identity card is accepted as a legal proof of identification at airports, government buildings, state motor vehicle departments, banks and police departments in 13 states and more than 80 cities. And the government of El Salvador, with one fourth of its population now resident in the United States, is urging those who left to take advantage of their Temporary Protected Status and stay here. Since the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001, the immigration debate has been influenced by the ease with which Arab terrorists entered the United States. As part of the Department of Homeland Security legislation, the Immigration and Naturalization Service will have its two principal, and often conflicting, functions -- enforcing border controls and supervising the citizenship formation of legal immigrants -- partitioned into separate agencies. This long overdue measure is supposed to reinforce the necessary distinction between legal immigrants, who have followed the law and patiently waited their turn to emigrate to the United States, and those who have illegally jumped border fences, waded the Rio Grande or trekked through desert crossings. The ink was hardly dry on the president's signature on the homeland security bill before "open borders" and Hispanic "rights" advocates were lobbying Congress to ignore the illegal alien problem. They note that illegals, particularly from Mexico, perform work that others in the United States will not do. They also point out that terrorists like Mohamed Atta were in the United States legally and ask what security threats are posed by illegal, undocumented workers inside the United States. The case of accused "Beltway Sniper" Lee Malvo springs to mind. Malvo, an illegal alien, was detained last December in Washington -- and then released by the INS. The Malvo case may be exceptional in its violence, but all illegal immigrants, by definition, break the law when they surreptitiously enter the country. That's reason enough to detain and deport them. As the United States readies for renewed conflict against Iraq, it's high time to think about securing our own borders before we commit to protecting Kuwait's and Saudi Arabia's.