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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dealing with Illegal Immigration

Governor Pawlenty has proposed an initiative to crack down on illegal immigration and the many problems it creates for the state. Pawlenty's ideas include a dedicated enforcement agency, a more proactive approach to the identification of illegals, and increased penalties for associated activities such as facilitating the transportation of illegals, document forgery, and violations of employment laws. While the governor's proposals are commendable (though they really do not go far enough), he will more than likely have a difficult time overcoming the protests that are sure to come from “politically correct” liberals (holy oxymoron, Batman!) in the legislature and state agencies.

Why is uncontrolled immigration a problem? Actually it causes multiple problems in the areas of economics, public safety, and culture. At the risk of drawing more flames than Janet Reno unleashed on Waco (as well as being branded a bigot, racist, and/or xenophobe by liberals) let's take a cursory look at some of the more obvious ramifications of uncontrolled immigration.

Illegal aliens are often poorly educated and speak little to no English which limits their potential employment opportunities to low-end, unskilled labor positions that used to provide entry-level employment for teens and younger adults just entering the workforce. They often work for less than the wages that would have to be offered to the native workforce as they are really in no position to report being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers. This interferes with the free market in the determination of wages and working conditions. It also causes problems with the administration of tax collection, workers compensation, and other government services and entitlements (as if the administration of government programs and agencies don't already have enough problems without adding illegal aliens to the equation). The problem extends beyond just the illegal workers as the workers often have families with young children that put an added burden on the already problem-ridden education and social services systems.

Unfortunately, the type of jobs that illegals often get are in the food and hospitality industry. Bear in mind that since these people are undocumented there is often no way to ascertain if they have been screened and/or inoculated for communicable diseases. In addition to the obvious increased risks of spreading disease by handling food, when illegal workers do get sick they place an increased burden on health care resources as they often do not have any kind of medical insurance. If they require care it will more than likely be on the public dole. The very fact that these people are here illegally may cause them to put off seeking treatment out of fear of being caught, putting them as well as the public health at greater risk.

An illegal and/or undocumented status in and of itself is a risk to public safety. Just as the lack of documented legal status prevents pre-employment and health screenings, it also precludes criminal background checks. Even if an illegal is picked up by police for a minor infraction, law enforcement has very little chance of discovering if the person they picked up is a dangerous criminal that should be locked up for the safety of the community. Given that illegals are, by definition, in violation of the law it is understandable that they do not want to be confronted by any law enforcement authority. This has led to cases of illegals leaving the scene of serious traffic accidents (where they should not have been operating a motor vehicle in the first place) without summoning the possibly life-saving help the situation called for out of fear of discovery by the authorities.

Liberal politicians dismiss these (and other) obvious problems in favor of political correctness and actually make things worse by promoting policies that make it easier for illegal aliens to come here and reap the benefits of our society without being held to the responsibilities of citizenship. Liberal policies make it harder for law enforcement and the court system to deal with the situation (police officers in many cities are not even allowed to consider the legal status of people they pick up regardless of obvious evidence that the person is not in this country legally). This exacerbates the problems and is harmful to our society and culture in addition to degrading public safety.

It is becoming common to see multi-lingual signage in businesses and government agencies, not to mention the fact that government forms and publications are often available in several languages. Liberals hail such “progress” as diversity and push for more of it. They decry the (accurate) use of terms like “illegal” and “alien” and promote more euphemistic language such as “undocumented workers” or “immigrants”. Liberals and "immigrants rights" groups oppose virtually any effort to check the invasion of our country by illegals (it sounds harsh to libs, but that's precisely what the situation is) with charges of “racism”, “racial profiling”, and “violation of human rights” against anyone who dares to point out the problem.

Governor Pawlenty's initiatives would be a good start at addressing the illegal immigration problem but needs to go further. Legislation to accomplish the following would also be helpful:
  • Make English the official language of the state and require that all interaction with state and local government be transacted in English.

  • Give employers the right to require that English be spoken on the job as a condition of employment.

  • Crack down on employers that hire illegals. Stiffen financial and criminal penalties for those who knowingly hire illegals.

  • Do not issue driver licenses or any other identification documents to illegals.

  • Require proof of citizenship or legal alien status for access to the welfare and public education infrastructure. Require health care providers to report those who seek services and do not appear to be in this country legally.

  • Demand that the federal government enforce the immigration laws already on the books. Actively seek the arrest and/or deportation of illegals.
Hopefully our lawmakers will have the political backbone to take the necessary action but, given past performances, I'm not real optimistic. It wouldn't hurt to contact the governor and your lawmakers and encourage them to have the courage to enact the legislation necessary to address the serious problem of illegal immigration.


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