The Hurricane of Illegal Immigration: the Other Perfect Storm


In the last month, Hurricane Katrina has exposed the sins of big government in dazzling High-Definition – evidenced in both the bureaucratically-hindered disaster response effort and the failing anti-poverty programs in the Gulf Coast.

Despite this rude awakening, I am convinced that legislators and many Americans are still too blinded by political correctness to honestly address these, and other issues facing America. As evidence, President Bush’s September 15 address lamented the poverty in the Gulf Coast region that “has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America.” Such apologetic, victimizing language only deepens racial divides and dismisses any responsibility for progress.

At the same time, drifting through the swelling seas of political correctness and out of the immediate sight of most Americans, a storm has taken shape that dwarfs Katrina – the thrashing Hurricane of Illegal Immigration. Yes, the effects of illegal immigration are extensive and injurious enough to this country that “hurricane” is an appropriate description. Considering that Hurricane Katrina has received immediate (even if knee-jerk) legislation, and that Congress has not found the time nor the fortitude to deal with immigration reform while it lacked a flashy name, maybe this will finally spark hope for immigration reform.

First, for those not keeping score at home, here is a brief status report. It is estimated that 10 million illegal aliens have entered the country in the last 20 years, and they currently flow across our borders at a rate of up to 3 million per year. Only one in every four illegal aliens that attempts to enter the US is apprehended, and most make multiple attempts. Each day, over 4,000 people enter illegally across the Mexico-Arizona border alone. Illegal immigrants are not only readily employed in America (an issue too complex to be addressed here) they also help themselves to a wide range of federal programs. According to the latest estimates, illegal immigrants annually receive $10 billion in overall social services, $1.45 billion in reimbursement to hospitals for emergency care and a staggering $28.6 billion towards the education of their children.

The most stomach-turning aspects of illegal immigration – and the reason it is still a growing problem – are the politically correct, status quo-savoring attitudes of lawmakers and judges. These warped ideas have created a collection of “sanctuary laws” throughout the country — including LA, Denver, San Francisco, and Houston — to fabricate civil rights for “undocumented” aliens as if they were American citizens. Such laws aim to directly help illegal aliens obtain benefits they do not deserve, and make it difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement officials to hold them responsible for crimes they commit or for immigration officials to find and deport them.

Need more evidence of the existing crisis? Consider the following bizarre realities. Throughout the country there are counties, boroughs and townships that allow illegal aliens who register to vote – which can be accomplished on the internet – to cast a ballot in elections. Several states have passed or have pending legislation giving illegal aliens “temporary” or “separate” driver’s licenses. Worst of all, in many parts of the country police officers are not legally permitted to report known illegal aliens to immigration authorities — often, they are not even allowed to ask about the legality of their immigrant status in the US.

Let that sink in for a second or two.

Not surprisingly, this dysfunctional policy leads to tragic but entirely preventable crimes against American citizens. In 2002, a woman was assaulted in New York City by five people, three of whom had arrest records. These criminals were still in the US after their respective arrests because New York City police officers are unable to share immigration information with immigration officials. In June, a Denver detective was fatally shot by an illegal Mexican alien, who had been pulled over and ticketed for traffic violations three times in the previous seven months; however, he had never been questioned about his immigration status because police officers in Denver are prohibited from doing so, unless a suspect has been arrested for another crime. Also, border patrol and immigration officials have little control over criminals that are deported. From October 2003 and July 2004, the Tucson border patrol stopped over 9,000 persons entering the country who already had criminal arrest records in the US.

How backward are the immigration laws in America when illegal immigrants have the same rights as legal citizens? This is not a matter of “privacy” rights, it is a matter of security in the homeland – illegal immigration puts law-abiding, tax-paying Americans at risk. America desperately needs legislators to do the political grunt work to lend credibility to immigration policies, at minimum by finding a way of enforcing existing laws.

Just as with Hurricane Katrina, when the Hurricane of Illegal Immigration makes landfall, many will be shocked at the level of damage it can inflict on Americans — I, for one, will not be surprised.