This week is an unusual week in that we will celebrate the achievements of hard working Americans on Labor Day and also, just six days later, remember the horrors of the terrorist attacks carried out ten years ago on September 11, 2001 that slaughtered more than 3,000 innocent victims and wrought such destruction on our nation and our way of life.
Although not many members of the political establishment or of the news media will connect the dots, immigration is an extremely important component of both of these issues.
Let's begin with Labor Day and the plight of the American worker.
Homer Hickam, the author of the book, “The Rocket Boys” that served as the basis for the excellent film “October Sky.” This autobiographical accounting about his life as the son of a West Virginia coal miner, who went on to become a NASA engineer, delivered the eulogy at the Sago Mine disaster several years ago that contained an eloquent statement well worth remembering:
“There is no water holier than the sweat off a man's brow.”
Clearly with those words, he expressed his reverence for the hard working Americans who built this nation and, given the opportunity, will continue to build this nation.
Officially the unemployment rate of our citizens stands at more than 9 percent.
This is an inaccurate number because it does not include workers who have given up looking for work or whose unemployment benefits have run out. This statistic also does not include the many American workers who have lost their careers and are now working in jobs that do not make use of their education, skills, training and experience, for wages that do not come close to what they had earned before they lost their careers. This is the workforce of the underemployed- our fellow Americans who, through no fault of their own, are losing their tenuous grip on their ability to support themselves and their families.
Furthermore, the unemployment rate for America's minorities is now estimated at nearly twice the national average.
The unemployment crisis impacts the lives of a large number of our fellow Americans and impacts even those who are fortunate enough to continue to work within their chosen careers and professions. If you live in a neighborhood where your neighbors' homes have been lost to foreclosure, you are likely living in a neighborhood that has a number of abandoned houses that now serve the needs of drug dealers and addicts and prostitutes. This makes these neighborhoods less safe and drives down the value of the homes where the homeowners continue to make their monthly mortgage payments.
Families that are under economic stress will suffer in other ways and this impacts the adults of these families as well as their children. In some cases American children will not be able to attend college and even those young Americans who attend college have to wonder if the money they spend on their costly educations will create a pathway to success when they graduate.
America cannot retain its position of leadership in the world if its citizens are not the best educated in the world.
The “American Dream” generally meant that any citizen of our country who attended college, was hard working and diligent could expect to live a decent life, where the attainment of success and great wealth was always a possibility.
There are many reasons why our nation is now mired in the economic crisis. The attacks of September 11, 2001 had an impact as did many other factors. Subprime mortgages granted to those who never should have been granted those mortgages did not help the economy and, among those who received those mortgages were illegal aliens who used matricula consular cards to not only get mortgages but credit cards which are, in point of fact, non-secured loans.
Countries often focus on balance of payments to determine if a country exports more money than it imports through trade and by other means.
By not only moving manufacturing facilities overseas but by importing foreign workers- both illegal aliens and aliens with various categories of “temporary” work visas, the money that these millions of foreign nationals earn is wired or otherwise sent from the United States back to the countries from which these people come. It is estimated that every year more than one hundred billions dollars is drained out of the economy of the United States. This is money that is not spent in America and money that is not invested in America. It is also money that is not earned by United States citizens or lawful immigrants.
There are all sorts of estimates as to how many illegal aliens now live and work in the United States. The generally accepted lowest number for the size of the illegal alien population pegs that number at 12 million. I believe that there is actually a multiple of that number who now live in our country.
Illegal aliens are not just aliens who run our borders and, in so doing, leave no record of their entry into our country and evade the scrutiny of the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors whose mission is to prevent the entry of aliens into the United States whose presence would be harmful or dangerous as enumerated in Title 8, United States Code, Section 212 the section of law contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that enumerates the various categories of aliens who, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, are supposed to be prevented from entering the United States and are supposed to be removed if they are found here:
Click here to read that section of the law.
Among the categories of aliens who are supposed to be kept out of the United States are aliens with dangerous communicable diseases, aliens who suffer serious mental illness and are prone to violence, aliens who are convicted felons, aliens who fugitives from justice in other countries, aliens who are human traffickers and drug smugglers, aliens who are war criminals and aliens who have committed human rights violations, spies and terrorists.
Additionally, the immigration laws are supposed to prevent the entry of aliens into the United States who would seek to live and work in the United States without authority. These aliens would displace American workers and by their presence, lower the wages and working conditions of American workers.
It is worth noting that prior to the Second World War, the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws was the responsibility of the United States Department of Labor to protect the wages, working conditions and, indeed, the jobs of American workers.
Today advocates for sweeping amnesty programs resort to repeating the mantra that illegal aliens do the work Americans won't do. In some cases they use a slight variation of that phrase and state that illegal aliens do the work Americans aren't doing. The point is that illegal aliens are easy to exploit and are willing to work for substandard wages under conditions that are so substandard as to be illegally hazardous.
Despite the baseless assertions of politicians who seek to garner massive campaign contributions from those who stand to benefit by providing companies with a virtually limitless supply of cheap labor, immigration lawyers who desire an endless flow of potential clients, special interest groups that seek to fatten their enrollment list to gain contributions and the political leverage that increased numbers of members provide, banks who desire new customers who will avail themselves of the services these banks offer (for a price), the reality is that Americans are often found waiting on long lines to seek employment when illegal aliens are removed from factories, food processing plants and other such worksites in the aftermath of an ICE raid at such locations.
Under the administration's current policy of not arresting or seeking the removal of illegal aliens who have not been arrested and convicted of committing serious felonies- those raids will no longer be conducted! Worse yet, the administration has taken the unprecedented and outrageous measure of reviewing the case files of 300,000 illegal aliens who had been arrested and were facing deportation (removal) from the United States to determine if they had been arrested and convicted of committing felonies. If any of these aliens have not been convicted of committing serious crimes, they will be granted authority to work in the United States!
These illegal aliens whose true identities may well be unknown and unknowable, will have as much right to work in the United States as do United States citizens and lawful immigrants! They will be given documents that will enable them to readily pass the E-Verify system!
Meanwhile it must be presumed that as more aliens are identified by ICE and other law enforcement agencies, these aliens are also likely to be granted lawful authority to work in the United States!
Aliens who are now contemplating running our nation's borders have to be greatly encouraged to through caution to the wind and run our borders. Even if caught at a distance from the border, they too would qualify for employment authorization under the current guidelines!
Alien smugglers now have a friend in the Oval Office! Every time the President, members of the administration and members of both political parties in Washington who proclaim their desire to provide a pathway to United States citizenship to illegal aliens provide the most important incentive to desperate illegal aliens.
Mayors who declare their cities to be “sanctuary” cities further encourage illegal aliens to head for the United States and embed themselves in those cities- often under assumed identities, to the peril of all who live or work in those cities!
The tight job market reminds me of a game of “Musical Chairs” where a number of children, who while the music plays, walk in a circle around a double row of chairs placed back to back. There is one fewer chair than the number of kids playing the game. When the music stops the children scramble to find a chair to sit in. The one child who remains unseated is out of the game and he (she) takes a chair with him. This way there is always one fewer chair than the number of kids playing. The winner is the child who grabs the very last chair.
The Obama administration's policy of not arresting illegal aliens and, in fact, providing illegal aliens with employment authorization is the same as opening the doors to the room in which the game of Musical Chairs is being played and permitting many more children (chair seekers) to join the game while not providing any additional chairs!
The illegal aliens are not chair seekers but job seekers and this is hardly a game! The future and well being of American citizens and their families hang in the balance.
Now let us consider the impact of immigration on national security as the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 looms large on the horizon.
I am a New Yorker and I can tell you that New York still suffers from post traumatic stress.
I noted the reason why we have immigration laws. Our immigration laws have absolutely nothing to do with race, religion or ethnicity. I spent 30 years of my life enforcing and administering those laws and, on a personal note, I never could have done my job faithfully if those laws were not completely and utterly blind as to race, religion and ethnicity. I am the grandson of a victim of the Holocaust. In fact, I was named for my grandmother who died in the Holocaust because of our faith- I am Jewish.
Our immigration laws are the equivalent of the responsible homeowner who looks through the peephole before opening a door to a stranger. This is why I have come to say that the difference between an immigrant and an illegal alien is the equivalent of the difference between a houseguest and a burglar.
The terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 all had several things in common but first and foremost, they were all foreign nationals (aliens) who had committed visa fraud- they lied on their applications for visas so that they could enter our country in preparation for the attacks that they intended to carry out. They also did whatever they could to create the illusion of lawful status in our country in order to not have to be concerned about being arrested and deported by the former INS.
The 9/11 Commission, to which I provided testimony, identified some 94 terrorists who entered the United States in the decade leading up to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Of those 94 terrorists, some 59 or approximately two-thirds used visa fraud and/or immigration benefit fraud to enter our country and embed themselves in our country.
Today those terrorists would have nothing to fear from ICE. All that a terrorist would have to do today is run our border or enter the United States under the auspices of the visa process or the ever increasing Visa Waiver Program which now permits aliens from 36 countries to seek to enter the United States without first applying for a visa. The administration has made it clear that ICE will not take illegal aliens into custody unless that alien has not simply been charged with the commission of a felony but must have been convicted of committing a felony before ICE would even consider arresting such an alien!
Someone once said that an effective spy is someone who would not attract the attention of a waiter or waitress at a “greasy spoon” diner. The same could be said for an effective terrorist and, in fact, it might well be that the spy or terrorist might well be employed as a waiter or waitress at that diner!
A terrorist who maintains a low profile and is careful to never run afoul of local law enforcement is now virtually assured that ICE will not take any action against him (her). Effective law enforcement need to take randomness into account. Randomness has now been removed from the equation.
An example of randomness is the criminal who is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List who gets stopped for a violation of traffic law and is subsequently arrested. In fact, it is estimated that half of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted are arrested by local police conducting routine police duties.
As an INS special agent I have stumbled upon a wide variety of fugitives including an alien who had been convicted of manslaughter through a plea bargain arrangement- it is likely he actually committed a murder. Upon completion of his prison sentence he was deported from the United States and managed to run our borders and was arrested and prosecuted for unlawful reentry. He was serving a prison sentence for his immigration crime when he escaped from a federal penitentiary. My colleagues and I found him working under a false name in a glass factory. We had no idea as to his background when we first arrested him.
The owner of the glass factory was stunned when we contacted him to tell him about the true identity and the background of his employee.
This was a classic example of randomness and I could provide you with a long list of similar “finds” my colleagues and I made during our careers.
Most politicians and journalists alike tend to discuss and treat immigration as though it was a minor issue that is isolated and separate from the many challenges and threats our nation confronts today.
In reality, immigration is a major intrinsic factor where the economy, unemployment national security and other issues are concerned.
The first step in problem solving is to identify the problem you are trying to solve and seek its root causes. You cannot solve problems you don't identify, acknowledge or understand.
A nation without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!