Legalizing Illegal Immigrants a Bad Idea

Dave Seminara, Chicago Tribune, February 8, 2013

Almost everyone agrees that something has to be done to resolve America’s illegal immigration crisis. But will any of the reform plans that include a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants solve the problem? I voted for President Barack Obama twice and I support the DREAM Act. But as a former foreign service officer who has issued thousands of visas to immigrants who played by the rules, I believe there are several things Americans need to know before they decide where they stand on immigration reform.

It’s not just 11 million people. A substantial percentage of illegal immigrants are here alone, and once they get green cards, they will be able to petition for their wives and children to join them in the U.S. And if they become U.S. citizens, they will also be able to petition for their siblings and parents. Those migrants, in turn, can petition for their relatives and so on. {snip}

Shadowy people aren’t going to “come out of the shadows.” {snip}

Jobs Americans won’t do? Proponents of an amnesty for illegal immigrants often claim illegal immigrants do tough, low-paying jobs that Americans and legal immigrants won’t do. This notion is flawed now but will be demonstrably false after an amnesty. Illegal immigrants are currently limited to working for employers who pay in cash and don’t ask questions, but with an amnesty, they’ll be competing for jobs in the mainstream labor market with less educated Americans, who are already struggling with wage stagnation and a tight labor market.

Affirmative action. Once immigrants from Latin America and Africa have legal status, they’ll benefit from affirmative action programs. {snip}

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Strain on social services. Legalizing millions of mostly poor people, many of whom have no job security or health insurance, will put a strain on already strapped social services agencies. A study by the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that 57 percent of immigrant households (legal and illegal) used at least one welfare program in 2009. Illegal immigrants aren’t eligible for most benefits, but once this group has legal status, they’ll be eligible for the full range of benefits.

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Half the problem won’t be addressed. Up to half of all illegal immigrants in the U.S. are visa overstays. Most abuse tourist visas, but the Senate plan won’t fix the overstay problem. The framework calls for an entry-exit system, but it doesn’t specify how overstays will be located and removed. {snip}

Amnesty beneficiaries won’t be “joining the back of the line.” The plan refers to a “line” even though no such thing exists. In most cases, migrants qualify to live here based on a family relationship or a job. The Senate plan speciously claims that illegal immigrants won’t receive their green cards until “every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card . . . has received their green card.”

When an American citizen files a petition for a foreign sibling to join him in the U.S., for example, the average wait time for that migrant to get a green card is 12 to 14 years. No serious plan is going to ask amnesty beneficiaries to wait a decade or longer to get a green card.

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