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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Illegal Immigration--Again! (I)

The Urgent Need for a Timely Response
Our country needs more congressmen like J.D. Hayworth (R—AZ). In his recent book, Whatever It Takes. Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and the War on Terror.[1] Hayworth touches on what many consider to be one of the Achilles’ Heels of the Bush Administration. Many are quite pleased with the manner in which President Bush is handling the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, but less pleased with important matters such as his “Democrat-like” big spending and our porous borders, especially our border to the south.
What is particularly attractive about Congressman Hayworth’s book is the fact that it is a politically incorrect, no nonsense read. I could hardly put the book down. If we had more congressmen and –women like J.D. Hayworth America would begin to look and act more like America. Mr. Hayworth draws our attention to truths that many today do not want to face. Our current problem with illegal immigration goes far beyond simply having our menial task oriented work force taken over by people from another country. That is merely the tip of the iceberg. Victor Davis Hanson has performed a similar service to our country in his book Mexifornia,[2] but Hayworth has built upon Hanson’s excellent book and has provided even more analysis than Hanson did.
For the next while, I’d like to walk you through Hayworth’s book, chapter by chapter, with the hope that you’ll buy it and read it on your own. I’m hoping to reach a wide audience with this series.
First, I’d like very much to convince my Christian colleagues that whereas the Bible calls upon us to care for the alien, we do not have to harbor those who are here illegally. Therefore, churches—Protestant and Roman Catholic—that hide illegal aliens in the basement of their buildings or who otherwise turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the fact that they are in our country illegally do not fulfill the law of love.
Second, I would also like to reach my fellow-countrymen and convince them that illegal immigration is one of the highest priority items for our national security. Our attitudes towards it defy common sense and reasonableness. You have to wonder if it’s actually going to take another devastating strike by terrorists against our country before we will come to our senses. We can only hope and pray that it won’t take that; but if we continue to be as complacent as we have been in the past, that might have to be our wake-up call again.
Third, I hope to reach our elected officials. I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired and fed up with contacting our federal, state, and local officials only to get some snippy, snarky bureaucrat less than half my age, answer the phone with a bad attitude. They give you the distinct impression that they cannot wait to hang up. If you disagree impatience is the key word. Or, you get something like the perfunctory “Thank you. I’ll pass that along, sir,” (click!) and you’re thinking No they won’t. Even if they did, they’d say something like, “A Dr. Gleason called this afternoon to say that he doesn’t like your policy on illegal immigration and wants you to vote to tighten up our border security,” the elected official would probably just smile smugly and knowingly and nod as if at a photo-op.
J.D. Hayworth sounds like a man that you can really talk to and get a hearing. (I would add that my own congressman, Ed Royce, is also such a representative.) If our elected representatives won’t let their voices be heard, it’s past time “we the people” did! As we progress, you’ll understand why I say what I’m saying. Let’s begin at the beginning at Chapter 1: Overrun.

Danbury, Connecticut?
Hayworth is from Arizona and is writing about the problems that our border states encounter. So why would he write about Danbury, Connecticut in that regard? It’s because he wants us to know and understand how pervasive illegal immigration actually is. He writes, “And don’t think illegal immigration is a problem only for border states. In the blue-collar town of Danbury, Connecticut, about 20 percent of the town’s population (75,000) is estimated to be illegal.”[3] And as if that were not bad enough, Hayworth goes on to explain, “The situation is so out of control that town officials found thirty cots in the basement of one home, each being rented for five dollars a night.”[4]
What occurs in the sleepy little New England town of Danbury, Connecticut increases exponentially in America’s border states. Hayworth points out that—at a minimum—about 4,500 people cross into Arizona illegally daily! Approximately 1,500 of them are apprehended. Do the math. What Hayworth is describing is tantamount to an invasion. In addition, these border crossings by illegal aliens have “become increasingly violent. In one particularly brutal instance, rival gangs of human smugglers had a rolling shoot-out along Interstate 10 in southern Arizona. Four people were killed and several others wounded.”[5]
In short, the glut of illegal aliens crossing over from Mexico into the United States has, by all estimations, “devastated communities, ruined the environment, and tested the patience and pocketbooks of Arizona’s citizens.”[6] In spite of these truths, who do you think gets the blame for not wanting illegal aliens in the country? That’s right: The concerned U.S. citizen. We are xenophobic, bigoted, and jingoistic if we don’t want our country overrun by illegal aliens. Go and figure.

Most Americans know what an ATM is, but precious few are acquainted with the abbreviation OTM. In Hayworth’s book, he spends time explaining how dangerous this phenomenon actually is. He cites Border Patrol accounts of illegal aliens entering the U.S. who are “other than Mexican.” Where might these people come from? If you’re like me, your initial response would be somewhere in Latin America. While that is true, in addition to an influx of illegal aliens from El Salvador, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, our Border Patrol has also documented illegal aliens coming in from Mexico from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Russia, China, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. That is cause for great and deep concern.
Hayworth cites a Time magazine article that “estimated that in the first nine months of 2004, as many as 190,000 OTMs ‘melted into the U.S. population.’”[7] Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that 50% of these OTMs are nice folks—bad assumption, but for the sake of argument, okay—that leaves us with 95,000 that aren’t. That’s substantially larger than the population of many U.S. cities, including Danbury, Connecticut!
So how much—within a million dollars or so—are these illegal crossings costing the Arizona taxpayer (only Arizona mind you)? The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimated that “the cost of illegal immigration to Arizona taxpayers comes to about $1.6 billion a year.”[8] The news only gets worse when we delve into the costs to our medical system, education system (that’s funny. I guess old habits die hard. I still call our public school system education!), and our welfare system, all of which we’ll get to later.
American taxpayers are heavily burdened by our ridiculously high tax rates as it is, not to mention the way our bureaucrats squander our hard-earned money on every silly program and welfare hand-out to come down the pike, but now we also have to contend with a further billion dollar a year drain on what is already exorbitant payments. When and where does it all end?
And here is a real bite in the shorts: Hayworth quotes Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security as saying, “Today, a non-Mexican illegal immigrant caught trying to enter the United States across the southwest border has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because we lack the holding facilities.”[9] The ones who are not released immediately know how to work the system because our Border Patrol allows them to remain—legally!—in the U.S. pending an immigration hearing. A whopping 98% of the 20% never show up for that hearing. They catch a train to Danbury. It is so ridiculous that many of the OTMs wait for the Border Patrol to capture them or even seek the BP out and get arrested knowing that now they are in America “legally.”

The Problems Multiply
Many have already drawn our attention to the clear fact that for an American to hire an illegal alien is a felony. Just from that perspective alone, the problem of illegal immigration is compounded: The person is in the country illegally (read: crime) and a shiftless American wanting cheap labor and none of the hassle of unemployment insurance and taxes purposely hires an illegal alien and pays him under the table (read: crime). Here’s the way this situation shakes out: If illegals work “off the books,” the companies that hire them save a lot of money. For example, if I hire an illegal for $500/week off the books and hire a U.S. citizen legally, the difference is more than $500/week. That is to say, it’s cheaper, although illegal to break the law.
Where are Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi crying out for the “little man” in this context? For the “little man” is the hardest hit. While Kennedy’s belly-aching about outsourcing jobs, he says little or nothing about how illegals are robbing American-born men of jobs and income. Between 1980 and 2000 immigration hit American-born men without a high school education to the tune of a 7.4% reduction. Kennedy then has to audacity to claim that legalizing millions of illegal workers will protect American workers’ right and wages. Does the man ever sober up?
When I think of Mexico my first thought politically is that it is a very corrupt country. Everyone is on the take and if you simply have enough pesos you can do or get just about anything. For the longest time, I considered Mexico’s problems, Mexico’s problems. I first began to think of corruption as part of our problems when Loretta Sanchez beat Bob Dornan for congressperson. There were reports of people voting multiple times and even of dead people voting. I was thoroughly shocked because it never crossed my mind that anything like that would or could ever happen in the United States. I was wrong. It was not so much that Ms. Sanchez won—although I would never vote for her—but the way in which the election was conducted. It reminded me of a Third World fiasco, but not an American election.
Now corruption is being accepted as a part of our way of life by some. And when we know about corruption and do nothing about it, it will spread like a debilitating, necrotizing cancer. Hayworth offers some timely examples of what I mean. In one instance, a Border Patrol agent was doubling as a smuggler. Somebody didn’t do their homework! But there is more. Hayworth writes, “A Border Patrol agent in San Diego was charged with conspiring to smuggle illegal aliens across the border. But the story took an even odder twist when it was discovered that the Border Patrol agent was himself an illegal alien who had used a fake birth certificate to get the job.”[10]
In another example, Virginia police, in a sting operation, arrested “a Department of Motor Vehicles official, his wife, and another man for selling valid driver’s licenses for as much as $3,500 (apparently the going rate!) to illegal immigrants.”[11] I seem to remember something about 9/11/01 and the terrorists all having valid U.S. driver’s licenses. We are left to wonder how they acquired them.
Finally, federal authorities discovered a crime syndicate “specializing in the distribution of millions of phony documents to illegal aliens nationwide (three million to the Los Angeles area alone), including high-quality Social Security cards, resident alien cards, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, marriage licenses, work authorization documents, vehicle insurance cards, temporary vehicle registration documents, and utility bills from both Mexico and the U.S.”[12]
So simply in terms of wasted U.S. tax dollars and corrupt, under-the-table graft the American taxpayer is getting hosed—big time! Yet, illegal immigration brings with it another plethora of problems. Our concern with global warming seems to have left the environmentalist wackos with tunnel vision when it comes to the problem of illegal aliens. When was the last time you heard someone from the Sierra Club complaining about the destruction of our country by illegal immigrants?
Leo Banks, a writer based in Tucson, AZ reports that Americans living in that area have to deal with a large number of highly unacceptable problems. “They find fences knocked down and water spigots left on, draining thousands of precious gallons. And then there’s the trash: pill bottles, syringes, used needles, and pile after pile of human feces…. One rancher told me about illegals who rustled one of her newborn calves. The intruders beat the twelve-hour-old animal to death with a fence post, then barbecued it on the spot.”[13] The Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in southern Arizona, tribal leaders approximate that illegal aliens crossing over into America and onto their reservation leave behind six tons of trash daily![14] Where is the outrage and the outcry? I’m willing to bet that few would have known this without people like Hayworth informing us. Why don’t our elected officials tell us these things?
Illegals also pose a threat to our military training. In 2004, the U.S. Marines lost more than 1,250 hours of training time because illegal aliens—who had lost their way—wandered in their training facilities. Fifty precious days of training were lost because these people were meandering through the desert! Since we are losing so much time and with all the talk from Jesse Jackson about restitution, perhaps we should demand that Mexico make restitution to our military for lost time. Yeah, right!
Merely in terms of social expenses attached to illegal immigration a Bear Stearns study believes that approximately five million jobs are now part of what we euphemistically call “the underground economy” (read: illegal jobs). In terms of health care, retirement funding, education costs, and law enforcement, illegal immigration is costing us conservatively $30 billion a year.[15] Couple this with another $35 billion that comes from the U.S. foregoing income tax collections (remember: illegal immigrants and those who hire them illegally use cash) and you’re talking serious change. Now add to those two figures another $17 billion a year that is sent to Mexico’s economy by illegal workers here in the states and the amounts are astronomically high. In fact, in terms of actual economic growth, “Illegal immigration is…Mexico’s only growth industry.”[16]
Another $29 billion goes to educating children of illegal immigrants: $12 billion for illegals and $17 billion for the U.S.-born children of illegals.”[17] It’s really starting to add up. Now, do you know how much the U.S. government sends to Mexico in foreign aid? It’s $71 million per year.Are you convinced yet that we’re dealing with a serious problem?
[1] J.D. Hayworth, Whatever It Takes, Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and the War on Terror, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006).
[2] Also compare Hanson’s article, “Illiberal Aspects of Illegal Immigration, Tribune Media Services, June 13, 2005.
[3] Ibid., 2. Italics mine.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid., 1.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., 2.
[8] Ibid., Emphasis Hayworth’s.
[9] Ibid., 3. Italics mine.
[10] Ibid., 7.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Leo Banks, “Minutemen Are People, Too,” Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2005.
[14] Hayworth, WIT, 13.
[15] Ibid., 18.
[16] Ibid., 19.
[17] Ibid., 19-20.


Blogger Dan Edelen said...

A family of illegals, their pathetic excuse for a car broken down outside your home, tentatively knock on your door, looking for help. Dad, pregnant mom, and two other kids stand there frightened.

As a Christian, you note that they are all gaunt-looking, so you feed them. The children are in ratty clothes, so you offer them some clothes. The mother is uncomfortable from the heat outside, so you let her rest in your best recliner. Knowing that the car is all they have, you offer to pay to have it repaired. In short, you do everything that Christ compels you to do out of His own love for these people.

Now the question comes: At what point do you call INS to turn them in? That's the only natural thing to do considering what you wrote in your post, isn't it?

The problem with illegal immigration is that it runs afoul of true Christian faith. We can talk about the responsibilities of government and we can talk about taking care of the stranger and refugee in our land like the Bible instructs us to. At some time, those two sides must collide.

So, are you an American first and Christian second OR a Christian first and and American second?

And again, at what point do you call INS and turn that family in?

4:48 PM  
Blogger wordsmith said...

dan said: "Now the question comes: At what point do you call INS to turn them in? That's the only natural thing to do considering what you wrote in your post, isn't it?"

Note: The INS has been renamed BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services).

If you don't want to report them to immigration officials, you have another option: buy the family a one-way ticket back to Mexico (or wherever they're from). Help them get established there. The US doesn't have the moral obligation to take care of other countries' hard luck cases. Mexico should take care of their own poor, instead of exporting their problems to us. If they took responsibility for their own poor, maybe we'd have some money left over to take care of poor Americans.

"The problem with illegal immigration is that it runs afoul of true Christian faith."

The point is not that immigration is immoral, but illegal immigration is. We are to obey the laws of the land, not help people to flaunt those laws. Illegal immigrants don't have a divine right to jump the border just because things are tough at home. If they want to immigrate here, fine - let them go through the proper channels, like everyone else. What "runs afoul of true Christian faith" is the illegality of crossing the border without government permission.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Wordsmith is right. There are options like the one-way ticket. Our nation is facing grave danger because of illegal--that's the key word!--immigration.
I'll post a document that I wrote about how this plays out from a biblical perspective looking at the OT idea of the sojourner.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

"Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold,though it costs him all the wealth of his house." Proverbs 6:30,31

I believe this scripture provides us with a wise answer to Dan's ethical question. It is unfortunate that so many find themselves in such an untenable position that they feel that the only solution to there problems are to break into this country and exploit it, despite our already generous immigration policy, but its also a false choice to say that you're being an American first and a Christian second if you turn in an illegal immigrant because, as Christians, we are subject to the authority of the state (Romans 13:1-8). A law that protects our national sovereignty and preserves the rights of true citizens isn't, in and of itself, in opposition to scriptural commands.

By your logic, there are a whole host of crimes that could be committed in this country where as long as the person who committed the crime did so out of a (real or perceived) genuine need, there could be no punishment or restraint (if we were REALLY being Christians, right?).

There is nothing wrong with sympathizing with the plight of illegal immigrants or even clothing and feeding them temporarily in a time of real and immediate need. There comes a time, however we must as Christians, respect the laws of this country (and laws that promote a well-regulated immigration system are wise and just) and hold law-breakers accountable.

8:20 PM  
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