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Friday, July 02, 2004

News from Agape Press Illegal Immigration Escalating, Says Advocacy Group

News from Agape Press
Illegal Immigration Escalating, Says Advocacy Group

By By James Lambert
Contributing Research by Betty G. Cordoba
July 2, 2004

(AgapePress) - Over the course of the last 200 years, America has been replete with stories of immigrants coming to America. Historically, during most of these waves of immigration, the majority of these people have sought entrance into America through legal means. Many U.S. citizens know such individuals and, in many cases, are extensions of those families. America is a nation of immigrants.

Many naturalized citizens can tell long stories about how they gained their citizenship into the United States. They wanted to immigrate to America, but decided to do so legally. One such person is Anna Marie Toth. Anna, her husband Miklos (now deceased) and her two young boys, Istvan and Nicky, escaped Hungary during the 1956 revolution “with only the clothes and coats on our backs. We lost our home, our family and our country,” remembers Anna Marie. They were forced to leave Hungary because it was rumored that her husband was going to be picked up by the Hungarian secret service as being a possible Hungarian freedom fighter. Rumors could destroy families in communist Hungary in 1956.

At the time, the U.S. government strictly enforced its immigration quota program, allowing only 32,000 refugees into the United States from Hungary. The Red Cross helped them apply for this when they were in refugee camps in Austria and Germany. After a full investigation and interrogation in a New Jersey government compound, it was decided to give Miklos, a trained electrician, a work permit in the United States. It took them years more to attain citizenship.

In 1976, Tonya Nguyn lived in Vietnam. That year, she left a country that was under communist control and oppressive to her family. They traveled to Malaysia and were placed in refugee camps for more than a year. Like Toth, her family respected the American quota system and waited for a time when they were finally sponsored by a family (in Minnesota) before applying for a "Green Card" to gain entrance into the United States. Since then she has matriculated to Southern California to find other family members and wait yet another five to six years before receiving citizenship.

Good Policy ... When It's Enforced
Across America, similar stories have been repeated millions of times: people have worked within the system to gain access to the U.S. and obtain citizenship legally.

Steven A. Camarota is the director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), based in Washington, DC. The CIS has been operating for more than 15 years as a non-profit think tank commenting on the positive and negative aspects of U.S. immigration policy. Just this year members from that organization have testified seven times before various congressional committees in the nation's capital.

At the very least, says Camarota, CIS would like to see current immigration law enforced. Research from the Center reveals that immigration has not slowed from the year 2000 even though the United States has experienced an economic slowdown during several of those years. Currently there are 33.5 million foreign born people in the United States (both legal and illegal), according to U.S. census data. By best estimates, there are at least eight million illegal aliens now residing in the U.S. with another one million people on long-term "temporary" visas. This census data does not include persons “such as prisoners and those in nursing homes,” according to Mr. Camarota.

CIS believes that this new wave of immigration experienced in the last 15 years is different from past immigration waves. In the past, immigration would drop when America experienced economic downturns. Apparently no longer, contends Camarota.

Biggest Violator: Mexico
Of the many regions noted in Camarota’s study, by far the country contributing the most to illegal immigration is Mexico. As Cararota says, “The 1.5 million people who came from Mexico in the last three years strongly suggests that illegal immigration continues at very high levels from that country.”

CIS suggests that nearly two-thirds of all new illegal immigrants come from Mexico. Conservative estimates are that between $20 and $30 billion dollars a year reaches Mexico in the form of personal money orders, cashier's checks, postal money orders, and other forms of cash transfers from illegal immigrants living in America -- perhaps explaining why politicians like Mexican President Vincente Fox are interested in this issue.

It is clear that a major component of the immigration problem from Mexico is that the Mexican economy cannot provide a realistic living income for many of its citizens. But is this the problem of the United States? The U.S. has already agreed to eliminate a number of trade barriers with NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). But the Fox Administration in Mexico wants more concessions from the U.S.. Why? In July 2003, radio commentator Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum said, “We certainly can’t depend on Mexico to stop [the] invasion of illegals. U.S. authorities estimate that [people] smugglers will pay $500 million this year in bribes and payoffs to Mexican military and police to protect this illicit traffic.”

What's the Solution?
With states and counties across the country being burdened under red ink, America can ill afford to subsidize illegal immigration. Common sense is often ruled out when it comes to state legislatures like those in California. Liberal Democrats in that state have granted state subsidies for illegal immigrants for junior college tuition, emergency medical care, high school education, and in 2003 -- before it was finally over-ruled by the new governor -- driver’s licenses. Surprisingly, 21 other states “do not require [driver’s license] applicants to prove they are in the United States legally,” says Schlafly.

The federal government cannot get serious with enforcing immigration laws if there are only 2,700 agents nationwide who are dedicated to this task. Public pressure will have to be applied to politicians who make it difficult for agents to enforce immigration laws already on the books. Local police are often shackled by city officials when police make a criminal arrest of a person who just happens to be in the U.S. illegally.

According to Schlafly, 20 cities -- including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Seattle, and Portland. Maine -- have adopted "sanctuary ordinances" banning police from asking people about their immigration status unless they are suspected of committing a felony, are a threat to national security, or have been previously deported. Even the Justice Department has admitted that the government released 35,318 criminal aliens into the general population in 2000.

Unequal enforcement of immigration laws sends the wrong message to millions of legal immigrants who, like Toth and Nguyn, have obtained citizenship legally. But until all levels of government work together enforcing current immigration law, illegal immigration will continue to be a problem.

As retired Col. ‘Mac’ MacCahan -- whose Army unit lost 206 of 212 men during the Korean War -- said to a local political body in Georgia: “What part of illegal don’t you understand?”

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