Illegal Immigration - No Sign of Slowing Down

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimated that there were 7 million illegal aliens residing in the United States in January 2000. According to INS, 69% of this unauthorized immigrant population was from Mexico. (USINS, 2003) However, the top 15 sending countries accounted for 89% of the total illegal alien population and included Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras, China, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Brazil, Haiti, India, Peru, Korea, and Canada. This means that a significant number of illegal aliens entered the United States through other than the Mexico-US border and that they fall under the jurisdiction of the investigations section (interior enforcement), not the Border Patrol. These statistics further indicate that the illegal alien problem is both a border and an interior enforcement problem. More importantly, the interior problem seems to be far greater than the border problem. However, the INS never placed much emphasis on interior enforcement. As a matter of fact, there is very little interior enforcement of the immigration laws going on. Interior enforcement lags behind all other functions of the agency and the INS clearly prioritized the Border Patrol function.

The sheer number of apprehensions along the Mexico-U.S. border often lures the observer to accept them as representative of the illegal alien problem. In 2002, the INS apprehended 1,062,279 deportable aliens in the United States and 94% of those apprehensions were from Mexico.

Near the beginning of this year, President Bush was quoted as saying the United States needs an immigration system "that serves the American economy and reflects the American dream". Bush said the new legal status would allow illegal immigrants to travel back to their home countries, without the fear they would not be allowed to return to the United States, and he said it would also help keep immigrants from being abused or exploited.

"This new system will be more compassionate. Decent, hardworking people will now be protected by labor laws, with the right to change jobs, earn fair wages and enjoy the same working conditions that the law requires for American workers," he said.

"Temporary workers will be able to establish their identities by obtaining the legal documents that we all take for granted. And they will be able to talk openly to authorities to report crimes when they're harmed without the fear of being deported," he said. Bush's new proposal also seeks to increase the number of "green cards" that are issued to people wanting to migrate to the United States. At present, about 140,000 are issued each year.

Just last month (May), the Federal government authorized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to set up a system for reimbursement to health care providers who provide emergency care for illegal aliens. Hospitals typically provide emergency health care to anyone who arrives, and are being stuck with increasing costs to injured or ailing illegals. Not all Americans agree with Bush's reasoning. Some in Washington are concerned that Bush's drive is to increase his Latino support for the Republican party. While many legal citizens in this country are on a waiting list for health care provision or are offered no health care at all, aliens who have broken federal law by illegally entering the country are now being offered jobs AND paid emergency health care. Since the U.S. border patrol has been unable to stop the inflow of illegals, supporters of the new programs believe that the country must set up some kind of system to deal with them. Randel Johnson, a chamber vice president who deals with immigration issues, said Tuesday that a resolution of the problem is necessary.

"The reality of it is we are not going to deport all these people," Johnson said. "So we have to come up with something to deal with the situation. Or we can continue to put our head in the sand."

But U.S. Rep. Thomas Tancredo, R-Colorado, sits firmly on the other side of this fence. "People who are here illegally -- they need to be deported," Tancredo said. "People who hire them need to be fined. If they keep doing it, they need to be sent to jail. It's against the law."

According to the numbers on the Center for Immigration Studies website, in the time it took you to read this article, another 2 illegals made it across the border?..to the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Free Health Care Providers.

Tom Clouser is a 38 year old farmer in Pennsylvania. In addition to farming, he and his father publish a monthly 16-page newspaper called "Trees 'n' Turf", which targets subjects of interest to those in land use industries and activities. View their website at http://www.clouserfarm.net

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