Our nation is confronting an immigration crisis of unparalleled proportions. Estimates concerning the number of illegal aliens who live and work within our nation's borders range from a low of 12 million to a high of 20 million. Never have so many illegal aliens been present in our country. While most of these illegal aliens are simply seeking employment to help support their impoverished families in their homelands, a significant number of these aliens are involved in serious crimes and pose a threat to national security.
Our nation did not get into this mess overnight. It has taken literally decades for this to happen. Former President Jimmy Carter ordered INS employees to stop using the term "Illegal Aliens" to describe aliens who were illegally in the United States. He initially mandated that they be referred to as "Undocumented Aliens" and then, in a matter of months demanded that those of us who were employed by the INS to refer to such individuals as "Undocumented Workers." It is important to understand that the Immigration and Nationality Act is the body of federal law that encompasses the laws and regulations that pertain to the entry of aliens into the United States - the process by which they can acquire resident alien status and United States citizenship - as well as the criminal statutes concerning the issue of the deportation of aliens and the use of documents, etc. in relation to the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws, defines an alien as any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. Clearly the term “alien” does not imply anything other than the citizenship of an individual who is present in the United States. Virtually every other country uses a similar term to describe the same concept.
With that Orwellian use of language, President Jimmy Carter started the process of attempting to blur the distinction between aliens who were legally present in the United States and those who were not. This politicization of the immigration laws caught on and has persisted until today. The Amnesty of 1986, enacted during the Reagan Administration, only encouraged massive waves of illegal aliens to seek to run our borders or otherwise gain entry into our country to violate our laws, apparently hopping that they would one day be the beneficiaries of a subsequent amnesty program even though the politicians who gave us the 1986 amnesty promised it would be a one-time deal. President George W. Bush and a large numbers of Senators and some members of the House of Representatives as well as others have tried to provide that second amnesty. They are doing so even against the obvious wishes of the vast majority of United States citizens who are adamantly opposed to such an insane proposal.
The vacuum in leadership on immigration demonstrated by the administration, aided and abetted by the United States Senate, has motivated local governments to take up the slack and pass legislation that would discourage illegal aliens from living and working within their areas. Immigration laws are the purview of the federal government, but the will of the citizens of these communities is clearly having an impact on the local governments, who appear to be determined to do what the federal government is unwilling to do - represent the demands of the majority of its citizens. As I recall from my days as a student, this is how democracy is supposed to work.
The one factor that the local governments cannot deal with and the federal government must deal with is the issue of immigration benefit fraud. If, for argument’s sake, every local government in the United States enacted laws and regulations to make it difficult, if not impossible, for illegal aliens to find work or housing, then the goal of these aliens would be somehow to acquire lawful immigration status by committing fraud. As it is, immigration benefit fraud, as I have noted in many other articles I’ve written, is a rampant issue as documented by a GAO report that was released on March 10 of this year. The federal government must live up to its obligation of meeting the needs and demands of the citizens of the United States. That is what the phrase, "Government of the people, by the people and for the people" means.
During the campaign that resulted in the re-election of George W. Bush as President of the United Sates, President Bush debated his opponent, John Kerry on a broad range of issues including immigration. President Bush claimed that inasmuch as he had been the governor of a border state, he understood the issue of illegal immigration. That assertion was clearly a wrong one. Most of the local governments that are acting to deter illegal immigration are located far from the borders of the United States. Illegal immigration negatively impacts the entire country where a broad spectrum of issues is concerned and 'we the people' are clearly fed up. The dereliction of duty demonstrated by the administration and the Senate has to end.
If the local governments are able to hear the voices of the people and react appropriately, it is time for the federal government to do no less.
Lead, follow or get out of the way!