Friday, December 4, 2009

Is amnesty the only answer?

Laine Hubbard lives in Sun Valley.


An editorial labeled Our View on Oct. 2 stated that immigration reform is needed as soon as possible. It suggests that the only reform available is amnesty. I didn't know that there is only one means of reform. I thought reform was achieved by debate among intelligent and informed people looking for a solution to a given problem. We have a problem.

The article suggests that illegal immigrants are a hybrid breed, living and working here while having to "hide in the shadows." It says they pay federal and state tax and they contribute to Social Security. We must assume that if they're living in the shadows, they're illegal, and if they pay into Social Security, they hold false documents. Hiding in the shadows is hardly necessary if you're a card-carrying illegal.

Does the amount of tax and Social Security paid by illegal immigrants offset the cost to the American citizen for their contribution in the form of "cheap" labor? Most illegal aliens are holding down menial jobs that pay meager wages; therefore, they must rely on public assistance to a large degree.

Here is a partial list of expenses we incur in exchange for "cheap" labor.

In California today, the cost of illegal immigration to the taxpayers is estimated to be $13 billion, or half the state's deficit. Forty percent of all workers in Los Angeles (population 10.2 million) are working for cash and not paying taxes. Less than 2 percent of illegal immigrants are farm workers, but 29 percent are on welfare. Over two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal Mexican immigrants on Medi-Cal. The average cost per birth is $6,000.

In the first three months of 2006, Parkland Hospital, in Dallas, Texas, which has one of the busiest maternity wards in the country, delivered 15,938 babies. Seventy percent of those babies were born to illegal immigrants, compliments of taxpayers. St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center wrote off $4 million dollars in unpaid bills last year.

Twenty-nine percent of inmates in federal prisons are illegal immigrants. At $48 per prisoner per day, that adds up to $41 billion per year. Using INS statistics on the number of illegals residing in each state and cost per pupil by state, the cost of educating illegal immigrant students in the U.S. totals anywhere from $12 billion to $28 billion. The cost for education in Blaine County is over $18,000 per student per year.

By subsidizing this "cheap" labor, we have created, as one blogger described it, a perpetual underclass dependent on programs that were never intended to be permanent solutions. These programs were created for an entirely different reason. They were meant to assist unemployed legal citizen workers during times of hardship.

The editorial claims that our country has spent billions tracking and deporting illegal immigrants, and to that end, we should stop spending so much on enforcement and just give all illegal immigrants the most precious thing we possess: citizenship. Since the founding of this nation, millions of men and women have fought and died to preserve this most sacred possession. Do 11.9 million illegal immigrants deserve citizenship because they have managed to evade deportation by "living in the shadows"?

There is a solution to the problem, but is amnesty the only answer?

Finally—don't blame it on the Mexican immigrants (who by the way, accounted for 50.5 percent of the population growth in the U.S. for 2008). We created this problem. They only take what we give.

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