Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, July 12, 2007


Page 7



What Now?




As the Senate immigration bill faltered, Sen. Diane Feinstein complained that the status quo is de facto amnesty because the mass deportation of millions of illegal aliens is logistically, politically and socially impractical.

Feinstein and her cohorts seem oblivious to the fact that it is precisely this attitude that discredits any of their promises that a new, tougher law will somehow be enforced once an amnesty is granted. Sorry: been there, done that.

And they have yet to explain what exactly is wrong with our current immigration law - except that it’s not being enforced. Indeed, if the self-described “grand bargainers” genuinely want to enact future immigration laws, they need first to demonstrate a grand determination to enforce our current ones. And in so doing, they may find that we can secure our borders without mass deportations and without making the presence of 12 to 20 million illegal aliens within our borders permanent and irreversible.

They can start by expediting completion of the 854 miles of the border fence that Congress authorized last October, and that the Bush administration has dawdled on ever since. According to Congressman Duncan Hunter, who coauthored the “Secure Fence Act,” just ten miles of security fencing in San Diego reduced the county’s crime rate dramatically. Imagine what 854 miles would do.

Second, hundreds of armed incursions by Mexican military units in support of drug runners have been documented in recent years, and beefing up our military presence on the border is certainly warranted. Even the limited deployment of a few hundred unarmed National Guard troops last year has had a significant impact on those sections patrolled.

Third, the government must at least demonstrate a determined, sustained effort to deport those illegal aliens it actually encounters through law enforcement or social service agencies. No immigration law is going to be taken seriously if an illegal alien can receive government-funded benefits while the government cheerfully ignores the fact that he is not legally entitled to be here in the first place.

Fourth, sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants need to be just as rigorously enforced as all of our other labor laws. There is no excuse for those who would shortchange American citizens and legal immigrants in order to employ those who violate our nation’s sovereignty. If our state and federal labor agencies can audit every scrap of employment minutia down to lunch and bathroom breaks, they should certainly be able to determine the legal residency requirements that were supposed to be the cornerstone of the 1986 immigration act.

This modest effort to enforce existing law would not only stop the immediate demand on services that is overwhelming our schools, our hospitals and our prisons, it would also produce the voluntary departure of that portion of the illegal population drawn here by public handouts or the underground economy, reducing it to assimilable levels.

Citizenship should be reserved for those who obey our laws - starting with our immigration laws - as millions of legal immigrants are doing right now to fulfill their dream of becoming loyal Americans. Genuine amnesty for illegal immigrants means forgiving their past violation of our laws - not sanctioning their continued violation. It means leaving, being forgiven and then re-entering legally, under the same laws as apply to every other legal immigrant.

And together, these steps — which require nothing more than the faithful enforcement of existing law — would preserve our nation as a melting pot for many future generations of legal immigrants from around the world who sincerely seek to become Americans and “to secure the blessings of liberty” to themselves and their posterity.

(The writer represents the 19th Senate District in the California Legislature, which includes parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.)


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