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Nathan Imhoff: Fix problem with illegals

Posted: February 12, 2010 9:09 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
"America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts."
- James Madison

The United States is facing serious challenges that desperately need solving if our nation is to remain a thriving world leader. Few issues spark more passion than illegal immigration.

The problems illegal immigration presents are not going to be solved with one single solution. Many people focus on the problem of our unsecured border and believe fixing this alone will fix the entire illegal immigration problem.

While this is a major component, we can't forget the American businesses hiring and exploiting the illegal laborers. With unemployment at 10 percent or more, I think those jobs former President George W. Bush dismissed as unwanted by Americans might look pretty appealing these days.

This is a sticking point especially for conservatives who are typically against any regulations on businesses. Local Democrat Carole Lutness said it best at a recent City Council meeting: If we want to solve our ant problem, we need to get the open bag of sugar off the table. We must enforce the current laws in place and adopt higher fines that far outweigh the risk of hiring illegal labor.

It was a little more than 15 years ago when the citizens of California saw the financial writing on the wall and passed Proposition 187 - an initiative that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from benefiting from social services, health care and public education.

Soon after its passing, a legal pingpong match began between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union, which ended in a great victory for freeloaders everywhere when Justice Mariana R. Pfaelzer put a nail in the proverbial coffin of California's fiscal future.

An excerpt from the ruling reads: "California is powerless to enact its own legislative scheme to regulate immigration. It is likewise powerless to regulate alien access to public benefits. Proposition 187 is not constitutional on its face. We will not act in a way unbecoming to a sensible and humane people."

So taxpaying Californians like my mother and father, who worked their hands to the bone to put food on the table, aren't sensible or humane people? Pfaelzer thought it was sensible to continue to allow illegal freeloaders to drain money and resources away from hard-working Californians? Now a decade and a half later, the state with the largest economy in the union can't pay its own bills.

According to a 2009 Los Angeles Times article, the children of undocumented immigrants make up about 10 percent of California students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Crunch the state Department of Education's numbers and we have roughly 600,000 illegal immigrant students in California schools, which cost an average of $8,594 per student in 2009 - a "sensible and humane" total of $5.1 billion. And this amount doesn't even cover social, health care or welfare services that would have also been denied to illegal immigrants under Prop. 187.

I think I figured out where that $20 billion in the budget gap went, Mr. Schwarzenegger. Oh that's right, instead of cutting off the freeloaders, our "sensible and humane" state decided to raise the cost of tuition, making it harder for Californians to get educated, producing fewer educated people, fewer high-paying jobs and less tax revenue to pay for these illegal freeloaders.

Bravo! If this problem can't be solved by the state coming up with a "scheme," according to Pfaelzer, then our only course of action is for the public to demand our representation in Washington solve it.

Our country also must show some teeth when it comes to illegal immigrant crime. According to a 2006 news release by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, an average of 12 Americans die every day at the hands of illegal immigrants and another 13 more are killed by uninsured drunk-driving illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants have a different reality in comparison to most Americans. They know if they commit a violent crime there is a good chance they will be deported. Look locally at Adrian Guadalupe Arriano, the illegal immigrant serial rapist who was deported twice before he was charged and convicted of 26 felonies.

There needs to be more consistent consequences besides deportation for illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants should know if they commit a crime in the United States, they will face the consequences. No one likes paying to lock up these violent illegal immigrants, but what other choice do we have? The safety of American should be the top priority.

For any immigration reform to succeed, it must come up with creative solutions to curb these problems, as well as give a reasonable path to citizenship for those illegal immigrants who have something to add to our country.

Nathan Imhoff is a Newhall resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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