Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Tidal Wave of Aliens Aims at Southwest
The estimated 5 million illegal aliens -- primarily Hispanics living in the border area of Texas -- may soon be joined by 600,000 jobless and homeless illegals from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Another 280,000 immigrants from the four Central American countries have already made their way to the U.S. southwest, according to researchers at CID-Gallup of Costa Rica, a subsidiary of U.S. Gallup Organization.
The research, requested by the U.S. Information Agency, finds that the largest number of Central American illegal immigrants -- 180,000 -- will come from El Salvador, which has an adult population of 3 million. Next are 170,000 from Honduras with 2.26 million adults; another 170,000 from Guatemala with 6.1 million adults; and 88,000 from Nicaragua with 3.3 million adults.
The influx of Central American immigrants will have a major effect on the U.S. job market. Immigrants in general with less than a high school education drive down wages and push up unemployment for unskilled U.S. laborers, especially Hispanics and blacks, George J. Borjas, a professor at Harvard University, testified at a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims.
The Costa Rica researchers interviewed 1,000 randomly selected would-be immigrants from the four Central American countries. They discovered that many of the Hondurans and Nicaraguans mistakenly thought they could come to the United States regardless of their legal status in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in early November.
The Clinton administration decided not to deport any Nicaraguans and Hondurans if they were in the U.S. illegally before Dec. 30, 1998. The deportation stay remains in effect through June 2000.
STOP THE FLOW
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a supporter of tighter immigration restrictions, immediately lashed out at the administration for its deportation decision. Smith claimed the administration ignored the warning from congressional leaders, including the Texas Republican, that the message to the Central Americans was unclear and would give them the impression that the United States tolerates illegal entry.
Smith took the administration to task on illegal immigration during a March oversight hearing on illegal immigration conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, which Smith chairs.
"Congress has given the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] the necessary laws and funds, but the federal government still has not protected its residents and defended its borders," Smith said. "The president is missing the action."
A bipartisan group of congressmen and senators want to increase the size of the U.S. Border Patrol, the uniformed enforcement arm of the INS, Smith said.
"Border Patrol chiefs and border communities from California to Florida to New York cry out for additional agents for effective enforcement, but the president fails to respond," he noted.
The INS requested an additional 1,000 agents for the Border Patrol in the FY 2000 budget. President Clinton rejected the request. Instead he wants to maintain the Border Patrol staffing at nearly 9,000 agents.
Frustrated by Clinton's unwillingness to spend $100 million for an additional 1,000 Border Patrol agents, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), John McCain (R-Ariz.)and Kyl have introduced the Border Patrol Recruitment and Retention Enhancement Act (S. 912). The legislation would increase agent salaries and allow the agency to conduct its own recruiting rather than relying on Department of Justice or INS personnel offices.
"Even though border protection is a clear federal responsibility and the 1996 immigration reform law requires the hiring of an additional 1,000 agents each year until 2001, the Clinton administration is effectively ignoring the problem," Kyl said. "Besides not requesting funding to hire any new agents next year, the administration appears unable to recruit sufficient numbers of new agents or retain the ones they have successfully hired. Our bill should help in that area."
Hutchinson said she thinks "the government in Washington still does not view our problems along the border with the same urgency as the people of Texas."
The senators' legislation comes a day after Border Patrol Chief Gus de la Vina admitted on April 28 before a Senate Immigration subcommittee hearing arranged by Kyl that due to recruiting and retention problems the agency will likely only hire between 200 and 400 new agents this year.
Arizona had been slated to receive approximately 400 of the full complement but will now likely receive between 100 and 150, de la Vina said. Texas, which would have received approximately 500 new agents this year, could see that number cut by more than half.
The last staffing increase at the Border Patrol occurred in FY 1993. A total of 5,000 agents were added to the 3,965 agents already on board, or a 126 percent increase, according to de la Vina.
Whatever Congress is doing to curb the flood of Mexican aliens into America illegally is not enough, according to the residents of Douglas, Ariz. The town, with a population of 15,000 and located 120 miles southeast of Tucson, is having its share of problems with illegal immigrants.
Douglas residents complain that they are tired of being vandalized by illegal immigrants and picking up trash the aliens leave behind. Many in desperation have threatened to take the matter into their own hands.
The situation in Douglas may be the tip of the iceberg. Other U.S. border towns are probably nearing the boiling point -- if not already -- when it comes problems caused by the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico and entering their communities illegally. If the Clinton administration continues to refuse to include $100 million for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents in the FY 2000 budget, there is another solution to the border patrol dilemma: replacing the patrol agents with American soldiers.
The Clinton administration estimates that the cost of maintaining the current level of U.S. military operations in Yugoslavia through September is more than $5 billion. This same amount of money could just as well be used to pay U.S. soldiers to stand guard along the U.S. southern border. The role of U.S. soldiers is to serve and protect their country. So why should they be patrolling the Albania border or other borders in countries thousands of miles away from their native homeland?
The suggestion of using U.S. soldiers to patrol the southern border most likely will fall on deaf ears in Congress. Some senators are inclined to do whatever possible -- at least in the Senate -- to ensure the Border Patrol has the necessary funding to hire the 1,000 new agents mandated by Congress.
Congress appropriated $93 million this year to INS to hire the 1,000 new agents. Since the agency admits it will likely hire fewer than 400, some senators question where the remaining funds were and whether they could be used to increase Border Patrol pay this year.
In a letter to Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Sens. Kyl, Hutchinson and Domenici, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, urged the subcommittee to consider reprogramming the appropriated but used funds for an immediate pay increase and to investigate the Clinton administration's ineffective recruiting practices.
At a hearing on April 27 Kyl arranged to garner Senate support for more Border Patrol agents and increased federal aid to affected border areas, he pointed out that "effective border control is not a local issue. It is a national issue -- and a federal responsibility. It must be improved."
Resolving the illegal immigration problem has been slow in coming. To his credit, Smith has made some inroads in the House.
Smith was the chief proponent of the 1996 immigration reform law. This piece of legislation was designed to help secure U.S. borders, reduce crime, protect jobs and save billions of dollars for American citizens and legal residents who pay a high price for illegal immigrants.
Last month, Smith proposed the Child Status protection Act of 1999 (H.R. 1520). The legislation would allow children of U.S. citizens to go to the head of the line at the INS to receive the legal resident status for which they are eligible.
While the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), an advocacy group for Latinos, commends Smith for his concern about Hispanic Americans, the congressman doesn't have "our best interests in mind," said Joel Najar of the NCLR.
Najar points specifically to the 1996 immigration reform law. Smith is responsible for changes in that law "which, among other things, allow reckless discrimination in hiring and which promote infringement on our civil rights," Najar said.