Cross Posted to RedState
Immigration is a difficult topic. In our politically correct times any discussion of the issue runs the risk of being labeled racist or xenophobic or worse.
And to be fair, the issue can and does attract some unsavory types; supporters you would rather not have. It is not an easy issue withing Republican politics either, as their seems to be little consensus within the party as to how to address the issue.
President Bush has tried to defuse the issue and gain ground among Hispanics by emphasizing strong enforcement in his speeches but pushing for a guest worker program and what many consider de facto amnesty.
I am not an expert on this issue. I have not read the bills currently proposed in Congress and I haven’t studied President Bush’s proposals. But I do think this issue is important and that it isn’t getting the attention it deserves. To attempt to remedy that, and educate myself, I decided to read Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and the War on Terror by Congressman J.D. Hayworth.
I am glad I did. To see why, click below.
Whatever It Takes is a passionate and informative call to action on this critical issue. It is written in a clear and accessible style and provides a number of strong arguments for finally taking serious action to regain control of our borders and to stop the expensive and destructive flood of illegal immigration.
Despite what opponents might say, this issue is not about racism, xenophobia, or a lack of compassion for immigrants. It is about implementing a realistic and functional policy in reaction to an invasion of serious proportions (estimates range from 962,000 to as high as 3 million illegal immigrants since 1990).
It is about aligning our economic, educational, health care, and security policies so that they reflect the best interests of the country. One would be hard pressed to describe the status quo as anything but detrimental to our national interest. If you need help understanding why this is so and what we can do about it, Whatever It Takes is a great place to start.
I don’t want to go into great detail about the facts and arguments that Hayworth lays out as the book is less than 200 pages and those seeking details can find them easily. But let me just outline a few of the issues that Whatever It Takes tackles.
Hayworth lays out in detail the cost of illegal immigration. He describes the economic and social chaos that follows from a porous border: private property is damaged and the environment is spoiled by the flow of illegals.
He also notes the toll these crossings take on the immigrants themselves. Those crossing over literally risk death to make it. And the citizens and localities along the border bear the burden of helping these poor souls only to be rewarded with crime and unfunded medical bills.
Whatever It Takes also explains the cost to our educational and health care systems. With states insisting on allowing illegal immigrants access to the social infrastructure of their communities without contributing taxes, the resulting burden on schools, hospitals, and local governments is staggering.
One study estimated the cost to Arizona at $1.6 billion a year. Estimates for the impact on education costs in California are as high as 8 billion a year.
And all of this pales in comparison to the national security risks involved. If the border is more or less porous what is to stop a terrorist with a suitcase nuclear weapon from crossing? With rampant false documentation and little enforcement are we to assume the terrorists won’t use this weakness? It may seem hyperbolic, but what is the cost of mushroom cloud or another 9/11?
Hayworth also makes the case that, far from being a good neighbor, Mexico is actively undermining border security and encouraging illegal activity. This activity undermines our national and economic security and prevents Mexico from taking the necessary steps toward economic growth and social and political stability. This is clearly not just a domestic issue.
Hayworth rightly raises the question of why states, localities, and businesses are allowed to ignore this threat and refuse to cooperate with the federal government? In a sadly typical fashion, the federal government doesn’t even coordinate its own activities. For fear of being attacked as racist, or of upsetting important constituencies, agencies like the IRS willfully ignore fraud and criminal activity. While on the local level police are not allowed to arrest known violent criminals. This is not a sensible policy.
So what is the solution? In a recent RedState interview Hayworth succinctly summed up his approach:
We did not get into this problem overnight and we will not solve it overnight. Rounding up 11-20 million illegal aliens is not only impractical, but it would go against our nature as Americans.
So we need to influence the illegalsâ€™ behavior in such a way as to get them to return home on their own. The key will be tougher interior enforcement based on “broken windows” policing. That means going after not only illegal immigrants, but the employers who hire them.
Iâ€™ve often said that one CEO on television doing a perp walk for hiring illegals would do more good that a 1,000 new border patrol agents. If employers get the message that hiring illegals is a good way to go to jail and if illegals get the message that they can no longer have their picture on the cover of Business Week magazine and that they wonâ€™t get a job without a legitimate Social Security card, then they will start to head home.
Hayworth’s strategy comes down to enforcement and deterrence. Enforcement works but we simply do not allocate the necessary resources or implement the necessary policies to get the job done. He argues that if you begin to strenuously enforce the laws and effectively go after lawbreakers that the message will be clear and this will supply the much needed deterrence to the illegals flooding the border.
Implementing this policy will not be easy politically. Liberals unconcerned about, and some actively seeking to undermine, the political, economic, and social stability of America combine with big business interests to stifle true reform.
This issue is a challenge to the Republican party. It offers an opportunity to address the values and principles they espouse: national security, economic growth and prosperity, the rule of law, and America as a country unified by its shared belief in its founding ideals.
Illegal immigration threatens all of these. It leads to crime and violence; it undermines our education and health care systems. It takes money out of the pocket of those law abiding citizens who need it most. And it threatens our national security.
Congressman Hayworth has made the case. It is up to you and me to convince the politicians at the local, state and federal level that this issue can no longer be ignored. If the politicians lack the courage of their convictions – our simply lack convictions – our democratic system provides a solution: vote them out. It is only when this becomes a realistic threat that this issue will get the attention it deserves.
Whatever It Takes is a valuable tool in this battle. If, like me, you have postponed thinking about this issue or if you are looking for a book to give to friends and relatives, I highly recommend Whatever It Takes. The more people who read this book and are spurred to action the better.