Guy W. Farmer: No amnesty for those who came to U.S. illegally

Illegal-immigration advocates (and you know who you are) want to legalize more than 11 million illegal immigrants who live in our country. Fortunately, however, congressional Republicans — and a few conservative Democrats — aren’t going to let that happen. Good for them!

Leo Murrieta of Reno, Nevada state director of something called Mi Familia Vota (My Family Votes), is typical of illegal-immigration advocates. “Legalizing (illegal) immigrant workers in Nevada and increasing their spending power will add 23,000 jobs to the state’s economy and grow tax revenues by $249 million,” he wrote in a recent newspaper op-ed piece. Nonsense! He’s one of those “progressives” who look at illegal immigrants and see millions of potential Democratic voters.

The other side of this argument is presented by the hard-line Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which asserts that “any taxes they pay are significantly exceeded by the cost of public services they use.” Those services include public education, court and law enforcement costs, and “free” medical care in hospital emergency rooms throughout the nation. FAIR estimates that Nevada taxpayers subsidized some 210,000 illegal immigrants to the tune of $950 million in 2010. Do the math.

According to FAIR, illegal immigrants account for nearly 10 percent of Nevada’s population, and their children account for an even higher percentage of the state’s public school population. A recent investigative report by the Reno Gazette-Journal revealed that nearly one-fourth of Washoe County schoolchildren are English-language learners — thus the high cost of English as a Second Language (ESL) programs — and that 70 percent of the students at the county’s lowest-ranked elementary school, Roger Corbett, are in ESL classes. And lawmakers here in Carson City wonder why they can’t balance the state budget.

Lawmakers can discuss these issues in private, but if they raise them in public, they know they’ll be accused of racism, as I’ll be for writing this column. So here’s a politically incorrect question: Should Nevada taxpayers provide free public education for the children of illegal immigrants? I’d probably answer “yes,” but would also put some conditions on the parents of those children. Those who can afford it should contribute to their children’s education.

At the national level, a bipartisan group of senators ranging from liberal Chuck Schumer of New York to conservative Marco Rubio of Florida — the son of legal immigrants from Cuba — are working on so-called comprehensive immigration reform. Basically, the so-called Group of Eight believes that much tougher border enforcement should precede any efforts to provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and I agree. Even though Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims that the border is more secure than ever, a group representing career Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees gave Ms. Napolitano and President Obama a no-confidence vote in 2010.

According to the respected Pew Hispanic Trust, only 36 percent of Mexican immigrants who are eligible to become U.S. citizens are taking steps to do so.

There were 55,000 illegal immigrants in federal prisons last year, more than 25 percent of the total federal prison population; the comparable figure for state prisons was about 16 percent, well above the illegal immigrants’ share of the total population. Moreover, many of those criminal aliens are involved in the drug trafficking that poisons our children and grandchildren. So why is the Obama administration releasing thousands of criminal aliens from federal prisons?

Amnesty for illegal immigrants? No thanks!

Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, writes frequently about immigration issues.


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