Just before it became a major issue here, Jim Braude
asked me on New England Cable News what I thought of illegal
I was startled by the question and said the first thing that came to my
mind: "What part of illegal doesn't everyone understand?"
I recall that Jim was in turn startled by my response, as if it didn't
make sense to him. Since then, many other people have asked that
question, which Jim last week termed idiotic.
This could just be a case of the usual misunderstanding between liberals
and conservatives, who speak different languages and operate from
different basic principles. But almost everyone I know gets the point of
the question "What part of illegal don't you understand?"
At least one conservative, however, President George W. Bush, does not
seem to get it at all. What is going on here?
The federal government finally woke up and recently raided a New Bedford
company that was hiring, and allegedly abusing, illegal immigrants. Some
of them were taken out of state and separated from their children, in
preparation for being sent back to their countries of origin. Now we
have to listen to the professional liberals bemoaning the inhumanity of
rounding up the illegals.
There was a time when most of us would have felt terrible, or at least
sad, for these people and their children. But after having our concerns
about uncontrolled immigration ignored; after being forced to pay for
services for the illegals; after hearing from people who had to wait for
treatment in emergency rooms, regardless of how much they've paid in
health insurance premiums, while illegals get free care first - many of
us do not care.
Americans have welcomed legal immigrants, who have melted happily
together in the pot for centuries. But then our government decided to
abuse our generosity and sense of fairness. Legal and illegal immigrants
alike began complaining about our "racism" and increasing their demands
for taxpayer assistance. Now many of us hear the sad stories about
illegal immigrants being sent home, and we do not care -- because we see
the big picture.
This event changes the message that goes out to other countries, which
has been "Jump the line, come here illegally, lie, cheat and steal from
American taxpayers, and you may eventually get amnesty despite those
Now it is, "Come here illegally, and you risk being raided, cuffed,
separated from your children and deported."
Liberals are complaining that the factory owners were charged and set
free while the illegals had to stay in jail. Yes, that is one of the
advantages of being an American citizen - you have rights. I hope the
owners will be properly convicted, pay huge fines and lose their opulent
Bottom line, though: The fault lies not with the businesses who try to
function with no help from clear government enforcement mechanisms, or
with the poor people who want a better life for their families; it lies
with a government that has allowed, encouraged and even abetted this.
The debate over illegal immigration is not just about the usual liberal
entitlements, or conservatives' defense of businesses that want cheap
labor, or labor unions and politicians counting future votes. This issue
is about our survival as a nation.
There has been a
lecture circulating on the Web by Roy Beck of Numbers U.S.A
Education and Research. He shows his audience charts of our past
immigration patterns, with projected increases, all of which are
manageable. Then he shows the charts of what is actually happening, the
steeply ascending numbers of the U.S. population into the near future.
As the numbers double, so does the need for roads, housing and schools,
not to mention the dire environmental consequences of a fast-growing
Though sticking mainly to the indisputable numbers, Mr. Beck takes a
moment to address the concerns for the many third-world people who want
to come here. He said that while 25 percent of recent immigrants were
from our neighbor to the south, there are 4.6 billion people living in
nations more impoverished than Mexico. Then he shows us a gumball, which
represents a million of them - or the number coming into this country
each year. Then he drops it into a rounded glass, labeled the U.S.A.
Next he brings out a huge jar filled with gumballs, representing the 4.6
billion. He moves a few more gumballs to the U.S.A.
But then he brings out another glass, containing gumballs representing
the new births in those impoverished nations. And he pours them into the
huge jar, which then overflows all over the stage. And he points out the
obvious: We cannot take them all. The gumballs must stay in their own
Perhaps, Beck says, we as a nation can assist them with some of their
problems, but we can't bring them here.
Birth control comes to my mind, but gee, there in the middle of this
immigration conversation is my former religion, the one that says birth
control is a sin and good Catholics must support more immigration. Two
questions for the Catholic Church and our national politicians: How many
gumballs can fit into the Vatican and Washington D.C.; and, what part of
illegal don't you understand?
Prepare to be stunned by:
IMMIGRATION BY THE NUMBERS
By Ron Beck
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.