Georgie Anne Geyer

Immigration Reform Can't Be Found in Either Camp

WASHINGTON -- In this summer of the eternal political campaign, there IS one area where the usually bitterly opposed Republicans and Democrats are standing side by side.

Oddly enough, the issue on which they agree is opposed by the majority of the American people. It is, of course, illegal immigration.

Political observers know that the Democrats -- with their liberal "open borders, ya'll come" practitioners and the implicit idea that no culturalization is necessary to become an American -- would let almost anyone into the country and give amnesty after amnesty.

This year is no surprise. A Democratic victory will unquestionably bring a new amnesty for up to 9 million illegal aliens already here. Candidate John Kerry has already said he will not get involved in the popular "Protect Arizona Now" initiative that would deny illegal aliens some social services in the state, even though polls show it is supported by nearly three-fourths of Arizona voters.

(When it comes to issues of immigration, it means nothing to either party what the majority of Americans want.)

But then we come to the Republicans. They used to be the party of "protect our borders," the party that stuck to the purity of the law and believed that citizenship was a blessing to be conferred by the community only when a petitioner to citizenship showed "an attachment to the Constitution" (one of the original requirements for citizenship).

Today, the only difference between them and the Democrats is that they want MORE immigrants (no matter the status) -- not for utopian reasons, but to have cheap industrial and agricultural labor, cheap maids and nannies, and a larger country of consumers. These less-than-noble reasons are, of course, often clothed in a phony new Republican "idealism."

The immigration policies at this Republican convention, for instance, are to be found in President Bush's "guest worker" speech of last January, which included a limited three-year amnesty for qualified illegal aliens holding jobs in the United States.

Even though this program, which is the first foot in the door for another amnesty, is hated by many Republicans, it will probably prevail. The reason? George W. Bush's cynical courting of the supposed "Hispanic" vote.

But another profound issue in the immigration spectrum will decide the future political and cultural cohesion of America. It revolves around Social Security, the heart of the American program of entitlements.

Asa Hutchinson, the Department of Homeland Security's undersecretary, stated recently that not only would President Bush soon allow aliens, including illegals, to "go and return freely" to their country of origin "without fear of being denied entry" to the United States, but that illegals should also have the right to access bilateral agreements allowing them to receive Social Security benefits here and then take their earnings home to Mexico upon retirement.

A similar deal was signed with the Mexican government on Jan. 29, but only for those Mexicans who have worked legally in the United States. (The U.S. has similar agreements, called "totalization," with some 20 countries, but none of them have as many citizens working in the U.S. as does Mexico.)

With the Social Security Administration estimating that there are 41,000 Mexican workers who would qualify for American benefits and about 7,500 Americans who would qualify for Mexican benefits, the cost to the Social Security system would be about $78 million the first year and rise to about $650 million annually by 2050.

Responsible groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) say we are entering a new and dangerous era.

"The agreement on Social Security benefits between the U.S. and Mexico could doom our already imperiled retirement program," FAIR contends. "Massively out-of-control immigration, proposals for amnesty and expanded guest worker programs, and inadequate record-keeping by the Social Security Administration could lead to the complete collapse of a system that, by all accounts, is already in deep trouble."

The new amnesty/guest worker/Social Security proposals supported by both Republicans and Democrats, just at the time the baby boom generation begins to reach retirement age, would make millions of illegal aliens eligible for benefits -- no one knows how many because of the common use of bogus Social Security numbers and inadequate record-keeping.

Earlier this month, the Center for Immigration Studies, using Census Bureau data, found that households headed by illegal aliens used $10 billion more in government services than they paid in taxes in 2002, the year studied. If there were an amnesty for illegals, the fiscal deficit at the federal level would be nearly $29 billion. And that doesn't include the states.

None of this even begins to address questions of terrorists using America's sloppiness even after 9/11 to get into and at America.

If you're one of those three-quarters of Americans who want real immigration reform this election, at least your life will be simplified. It doesn't matter who you vote for, because you won't get reform from either candidate.

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