The growing problem of massive illegal immigration into our nation, and overall U.S.-Mexico relations, are highlighted by two recent news events:
After his summit with President George W. Bush, The Los Angles Times reports that Mexican President Vicente Fox said, "The commitment of President Bush and our commitment are to seek that all those Mexicans who are there without documents, or illegally, be considered legal workers." That would mean the workers could receive Social Security, welfare and other benefits and could travel to and from Mexico freely, rather than sneak across the border. "Never has a possibility like this been spoken of before," Fox said.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., introduced legislation granting blanket amnesty to illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. five years or longer. The bill - supported by unions representing mainly Mexican workers - would also end a ban on re-entry into the U.S. by deported aliens and give permanent visas to spouses and children of illegal aliens.
These developments have naturally sparked considerable debate, especially on Capitol Hill. In light of Fox's pressure on Bush for yet another amnesty, a major question for America emerges: Do we want to see the population of our country soar past a half billion in the next 50 years if we keep granting amnesties which, in turn, lead to more illegal immigration?
Several key Republicans in the House are signaling opposition. "Congress does not want to increase illegal immigrants by granting amnesty, and we don't want to smack legal immigrants in the face for playing by the rules," says Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Tex. who serves on a key House immigration subcommittee.
Lawmakers from Texas and California have a related concern. Hospitals in those two states spend $23 million and $55 million a year, respectively, on health care for illegal immigrants. That has led a bipartisan group to push for legislation to at least partially reimburse the hospitals.
"It's the federal government's job to enforce (laws against) illegal immigration and when they fail in that regard hospitals should not have to pay for those failures," a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., declares.
Smith, Bono and a growing number of lawmakers are also asking their colleagues, and the president, to reflect on an Immigration and Naturalization Service report gauging the impact of the sweeping 1986 amnesty of 2.7 million aliens. The conclusion: Rewarding the law-breaking that year simply led to a new surge in illegal immigration.
Add to this fact yet another one: Only 335,000 illegals were actually deported between 1987-1996 according to the INS. That low number has even jolted some Democrats who previously had been permissive on immigration.