Posted on August 3, 2006

The Immigration Crisis…Or Not

Bill Steigerwald,, August 3, 2006

Is illegal immigration the national crisis it’s been whipped up to be?

If you listened only to the Tom Tancredos, Pat Buchanans and Lou Dobbses of the world, you’d think we are about to have our economy ruined, our culture subsumed and our fiscal future bankrupted by the 11 million to 20 million illegal immigrants living, working and hiding among us.

But Tony Snow, the upbeat conservative pundit-turned-presidential-press-secretary, and the libertarians at Reason magazine don’t buy into that immigration doomsday.

While acknowledging the obvious socioeconomic problems illegal immigrants cause, Snow argues in a column that immigration — legal and illegal — “is not the pox neo-Know Nothings make it out to be.”

Snow’s column is part of Reason’s current package of pro-immigration essays, “Immigration Now, Immigration Tomorrow, Immigration Forever,” which is sprinkled with some facts about illegal immigrants often drowned out by the political hype and semi-hysteria:

Percentage of illegal immigrants who got here by jumping the Mexican or Canadian border: 60. Percent who overstayed their tourist or educational visas and therefore wouldn’t be stopped by border fences: 40.

Percent of illegals who are unemployed: 5.5. Percent who pay income taxes, Social Security and Medicare: 66. Percent who send their children to public schools: 10. Percent who receive food stamps or unemployment assistance: 5. Percent of Latino households that are Spanish-free by the third generation: 80.


Reason uses its facts to argue for an efficient, humane, freedom-oriented system that would allow Latino immigrants and others to come, work, pay taxes, easily cross and recross our borders or pursue full-time citizenship.


You can rail about the fact that illegal immigrants broke the law to get into the USA or about the horror of having to hear those Spanish phone messages. You can lose sleep worrying that 32 Latino radicals somewhere in California aim to re-conquer the Southwest for Mexico or that illegals are costing taxpayers $10 billion a year — in a $2.57 trillion federal budget.

You can even send your congressman an e-mail demanding that we start searching house to house for illegals, erect a gazillion-dollar fence on our southern border and start issuing new ID cards so every employer can become a private-sector immigration cop.

But with the economy growing, unemployment almost nonexistent and crime at 20-year lows, just don’t call our immigration problem a national crisis.