By Joe Guzzardi
July 12, 2012
Two sovereign nations, Israel and the United States, have significant illegal immigration populations. Each handles its problems in starkly opposing ways.
Israel takes the offensive and initiates bold steps to identify and expel illegal immigrants or, as government officials and the press label them “infiltrators.” At his weekly cabinet meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s immigration crisis which has been building since 2005 is “extremely grave” and represents a threat to Israel’s “social fabric.” Netanyahu urged the completion of the fence separating Israel and Egypt, the entry point for most African immigrants. As part of Israel’s “Operation Go Home,” Netanyahu reportedly demanded that border crossers be immediately arrested. Asylum petitions have no chance. Of 5,000 submitted in 2011, Israel approved only one.
The U.S., on the other hand, encourages illegal immigration and has done so for decades through beckoning federal and state policies. Welcoming government efforts enjoy the mainstream media’s full support. Rare is the day that the local newspaper doesn’t publish a sympathetic story about a struggling immigrant who, so goes the tale, is looking for a better life.
During recent days, U. S. and Israel have reached the apex in their approaches.
The United States offered more coddling. Last month President Obama, who has lobbied for expanded alien entitlements since he stepped into the White House, proclaimed through executive order that illegal immigrants between the age of 16 and 30 would no longer be at risk for deportation. Additionally, Obama rewarded the 1.2 million amnesty beneficiaries with work authorization, a direct slap in the face to 20 million unemployed or underemployed Americans. Obama called his action “the right thing to do” even though Congress has killed similar measures multiple times during the last ten years.
In Israel, the Interior Minister issued an ultimatum to illegal Ivorians: leave within two weeks and receive a stipend; stay beyond the two week grace period and be forcibly deported. And in a more sweeping move to eliminate immigration’s economic incentive, the Israeli Department of Ministry drafted a bill that would “be aimed at preventing infiltration,” namely by making it a crime to transfer money abroad either individually or through third parties. Banks and other financial institutions who abet money transfer would be imprisoned or fined a sum twice as large as the amount wired.
Back in the U.S., under no circumstances would the federal government consider legislation to block money transfer. Not only would such a measure be perceived as anti-immigrant, it would deny banks an important, ongoing revenue stream. Through 2011, remittances to Mexico alone totaled nearly $25 billion. That’s $25 billion earned in the United States by foreign-born workers during an extended period of high American unemployment but not spent locally to stimulate the depressed economy.
Maybe Israel’s ultra-restrictive approach is wrong. But maybe it’s not.
The U.S. kid gloves attitude has made the nation into an open borders country where, assuming he can get to America, an immigrant will be home free. With little border security or internal enforcement as well as asylum, change of status petitions and dozens of non-immigrant visas readily available, those who want to come to American badly enough will eventually enter and stay.
Those who advocate for more immigration, mostly the elite and powerful, refuse to establish any limits on what an acceptable annual total would be. Most Americans favor an immigration time out. During the interim, the federal government could map out a well conceived immigration policy that’s fair to everyone instead of the current willy-nilly one that does more harm than good.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. His columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]