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Letter to the Editor

Writer: It’s Important to Know Where Our Legislators Stand on Illegal Alien Amnesty

web posted May 22, 2007
Dear Editor:
I’m not sure how many of my fellow South Carolinians are aware, but last week a compromise immigration bill was crafted and sponsored by Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Kyl (R-AZ). At stake is the legal status of anywhere from 10-12 million “undocumented” workers - read-illegal aliens, a future work-force in many low skilled areas, and the quality of life and future of our country.  Balancing the competing priorities of human/civil rights, a growing economy, maintaining the concept of “rule of law”, and honoring the rich tradition of this country as a melting pot of immigration is what this legislation is seeking to address. 
If this proposed legislation is approved in the Senate, it will then move to the House and if it passes the House, President Bush has indicated he will sign the legislation in to law.  Upon signature into law, illegal aliens already in this country will be given a “protected” status with a “Z” Visa.  They will then begin the process of “a pathway to citizenship.”  There will be many requirements (employment verification, legal screening, paying a fine…etc).  The bill stipulates that a border fence will be built to control our southern border and that the provisions that are often incentives for illegal immigration will not take effect until certain “triggers” are activated (such as the fence being built).  Also within the bill are strong penalties for employers who knowingly employ illegal aliens.
Proponents of this legislation contend that compromise is required to make some sense of this highly emotional and contentious subject.  They stridently contend that this bill is not amnesty since it does not “reward” the illegal action of coming to this country without adhering to the immigration laws and processes of this country.  They further contend that we must absorb the “undocumented” workers due to our declining population growth and their willingness to take low-paying/low skilled jobs legal residents won’t take.
Candidly, our current immigration system is not broken, it is in fact our elected officials who are.  The new bill proposes stiff employer sanctions for those who employ illegal aliens (I stress the proper legal term….because immigration is by definition a legal process so illegal immigration would be an oxymoron), the 1986 bill imposed similar sanctions, our government chooses not to enforce it.  The new bill mandates a 350 mile border fence.  The 1986 bill mandated securing our border.  However, once amnesty was granted to the 1.3 illegal aliens, the incentive to secure the border was removed and thus was never implemented.  Last year President Bush signed into law the building of a 750 mile fence, funding has now been removed, currently only 2 miles has been built and the proposed bill reduces the fence by half, to 350 miles.  To demonstrate the elitist attitude and legislative arrogance, all one has to do is read Senator Kennedy’s remarks regarding immigration reform legislation over the past 40 years, as compiled by Mark Krikorian of the National Review:

Senator Kennedy is quoted in the following
“1965: "The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs."
1986: "This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this."
2007: "Now it is time for action. 2007 is the year we must fix our broken system."

California can serve as the “parakeet in the mine” for our state and nation as a whole.  I recently moved from California with my family and the situation there is out of control.  Hospitals and Emergency rooms are closing at the cyclic rate due to the overwhelming of them by illegal aliens.  Classroom sizes average 50-60 pupils and in many classrooms, English is not the predominant language.  Cities such as Santa Ana and  Garden Grove are over-run with crime to the extent that police are fearful to go into some areas.  Although the 1986 amnesty bill’s intent was to maintain an ample supply of field workers in California’s expansive agriculture industry, the unintended consequence is that once illegal aliens “came out of the shadows” and were legalized, they quickly moved into the construction, plumbing and other trade industries.  Willing to work for below standard wages, these industries have been decimated by the 1986 amnesty bill.  The present bill seeks to address 10-12 million illegal aliens.  It is estimated that if this bill passes, it will “incentivize” potentially 30 million more illegal aliens.  Imagine the impact this could have upon the country we leave our children.  Furthermore, President Bush has entered and agreement with the then President of Mexico, Vincente Fox, which would grant Social Security benefits to illegal aliens since they contributed to the system, albeit most probably with a fraudulent SSN number.  Imagine what 10-12 million more beneficiaries will do to an already under-funded and overdrawn entitlement program?
Some may contend that anything other than full support of amnesty is racist or xenophobic.  More to the heart of the question is whether a nation has the right to determine the processes by which a person emigrates to our nation of immigrants and have those laws obeyed.  The first act of a new immigrant who purports to love this country should not be an illegal one. As a 22 year military veteran who took an oath to “support and defend our Constitution” (the same oath our elected officials take), I am befuddled and perplexed how our nation’s laws were mandatory for me to uphold and defend, yet are seemingly optional for many of our elected officials and government agencies.
In South Carolina, I have written Senators Graham, DeMint and Congressman Barrett.  Senator DeMint and Congressman Barrett are strongly opposed to this legislation.  Senator Graham supports it with justification that it is not amnesty (e.g. being forgiven an illegal act without consequence) due to the monetary penalty imposed upon the illegal alien. I do not believe the “fine splitting of legal hairs” will endear Senator Graham to a motivated electorate in his upcoming re-election bid. Many veterans have and are currently serving in war zones to “guard the front door” of our country against those who would do harm to our nation, it is reprehensible that safely behind us, our elected officials are opening the back door to leave us vulnerable from within [read the Fort Dix terrorists].
For South Carolina, we are in the unique position to have our voices heard as we take center stage in the upcoming primaries as several Senators running for President strongly support this amnesty bill.  Furthermore, one of our Senators up for re-election next year also strongly supports this amnesty bill.  If you disagree with this bill, there is still an opportunity to filibuster the bill in the Senate if 41 Senators are willing to oppose this bill granting amnesty to illegal aliens.  I implore you to contact our Senators.  However, regardless of your position, don’t let indifference or complacency determine our nation’s fate or the nation we leave our children.

Mark S. Jebens
Lt. Col, USMC (Ret.)
Edgefield, SC


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