Illegal immigration into the U.S. has been on the rise for the past year, but in the last month or so an unprecedented wave of immigrants has hit the border and started to make headlines. In California, citizens took to the streets to physically block buses from bringing more illegals into their community. Texas Governor, Rick Perry, is said to be preparing to deploy National Guard forces. Rumors are flying about various citizen militia groups heading south to secure the border. Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has begun a million-dollar ad campaign across Central America warning potential illegal immigrants of the dangers of the journey and that there will be “no permiso” – no permission to stay – once they get to the border. General John Kelly, Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, calls the region a “Crime-terror convergence” that is an existential threat to the nation.
Though the subject of illegal immigration has gained new attention through the recent and somewhat exceptional events, the issue itself and the general factors surrounding it are nothing new. The number of illegal aliens in the U.S. has been on the rise for a half century, including throughout the Bush administration, arriving at a record high in 2007 of nearly 11.8 million. The number had since declined slightly, but now appears to be on the rise again.
While nothing justifies entering someone else’s country uninvited, it is also true that nothing happens in a vacuum. So long as the law of cause and effect is in place, there will be reasons why things happen and factors that contribute to it. We can’t honestly expect to fix the illegal immigration problem until we understand and address those contributing factors.
Welfare use by immigrants, legal and illegal, is about double that of native-born Americans. However, employment levels are about on par. It would appear that illegal aliens are as willing to work as the native citizens are, but are paid less and use more social service programs to make up the difference. The presence of such programs that supplement low income provides considerable incentive for illegals to come to America.
Welfare has also helped to create the job opportunities that illegals come here to fill. George W. Bush, a proponent of amnesty, indicated that we need the illegal aliens because they do the jobs “Americans won’t do.” But who did those jobs before the 1970’s when illegals really began to come here in earnest? The answer is that until the Great Society welfare state sprang up in the 1960’s and began to pay us not to work, those jobs were, for the most part, done by Americans. As a result of the welfare system that pays people not to work, we really do need illegal aliens who are willing to do the jobs that we are paying Americans not to do.
To get a feel for the difference in economic conditions, I looked up the annual gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in both the U.S. and the four countries immediately to our south. In the United States, there is $54,980 of GDP available per person. In Mexico, there is $16,111 of GDP available per person, in El Salvador $7,549, Guatemala $5,208 and Honduras has only $4,700 available per person. In other words, the inhabitants of the four neighboring countries to our south are living on from 9% to 29% of what U.S. residents are.
My friend, Constitution Party Vice Chairman, Randy Stufflebeam, recently participated in a television documentary on illegal immigration that took him to Mexico and El Salvador. Randy found that nearly everyone there both knew what the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was and blamed it for much of their economic woe. It appears that many family farmers have found themselves unable to make a living growing food crops since the implementation of NAFTA and have resorted to growing marijuana as the new cash crop. Watch this presentation that Randy recently gave to find out what else he learned while south of the border.
Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the three countries now propelling the greatest number of illegal immigrants toward the U.S. southern border, have the first, fourth and fifth highest homicide rates in the world with Honduras now at 90 homicides per 100,000 as compared to the U.S. rate of less than 5. In San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where the homicide rate has reached 180 per 100,000, The Guardian reports that survival depends on knowing the rival gang boundaries, seeing and saying as little as possible and paying the “war taxes” the gangs extort from businesses and the “protection taxes” levied on family homes.
The violence emanates from the gangs and drug cartels that exist to service the U.S. demand for narcotics. General Kelly of U.S. Southern Command recently stated that, “All this corruption and violence is directly or indirectly due to the insatiable U.S. demand for drugs.”
This issue also ties back to the topic of welfare. A considerable portion of the tax dollars that are spent on welfare programs end up either directly or indirectly supporting the drug trade. Just ask your friendly neighborhood drug dealer how much his revenue stream jumps on the day the welfare checks come out.
Talk of an amnesty plan that will allow illegals who are already in the country to remain, is no doubt prompting many to try to get across the border in time to get in on the deal. Some are blaming the recent surge on President Obama for stirring up immigrants’ hope of getting a free pass through his talk about the DREAM act. This of course is to be expected as President Bush’s 2004 push for amnesty was also followed by a surge in illegal border crossings. Fuel is poured on the illegal immigration fire when House Republican leadership is also pushing for amnesty.
When deportation goes down, hope of getting in and managing to stay goes up. The Obama administration’s deportation rate is behind that of the Bush administration at 800,863 per year as compared to Bush’s 1,291,106 per year. However, both are eclipsed by Clinton’s record of 1,536,363 illegals deported annually. It appears the deportation process has been slowed in part by an act passed during the Bush administration in 2008 which puts unaccompanied children under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration has indicated that it wants that bill amended to empower Border Patrol agents to expedite the deportation process.
Many complain that illegals should just go back home and apply to come here the legal way. However, while in Mexico doing the television documentary, my friend Randy Stufflebeam was shown visa applications from as long as 20 years ago that are still waiting to be processed. I haven’t done the research to determine just how systemic this is, but if the visa application system is as “screwed up” as Randy says, then this would also be a factor in why people are coming here illegally as going through the legal channels would not necessarily be an option.
I purposely put this one last because it’s what everyone thinks of first. In fact, it’s generally the only factor that anyone talks about or considers. Yes, border security does matter. If security were tight enough that no one ever got through, then eventually everyone would stop trying. However, so long as the other factors listed here remain in play, motivating people to come here for the welfare, for jobs, to escape poverty, or to flee from drug cartel violence, then it’s unlikely that any amount of border security will be sufficient to completely stem the tide.
Certainly those who cross the border illegally are committing a crime and bear responsibility. The above list of contributing factors may help explain why illegal immigration is happening, but it doesn’t excuse it.
But is anyone else responsible?
Well, it’s the fundamental duty of the man in the Oval Office to uphold the laws of the land, secure the borders and protect the citizens – failure to do so makes a President worthy of being removed from office. However, that would apply to both this and the previous Presidents under whom the illegal alien population in America has steadily grown for a half-century.
Given the multiple effects that America’s social welfare system has on the problem, the Congress and state legislatures that fund that system are also responsible. However, that would apply to both the Democrat controlled Congresses that have instituted welfare programs, the Republican controlled Congresses that have continued to fund them and the legislatures that propagate the welfare system at the state level.
Considering that it is we, the American people, who have elected, reelected and reelected again the politicians of both dominant political parties who have presided over the never-ending wave of illegal immigration and have perpetuated the policies that are contributing to it, then at some point we have to say that we are responsible.
Remember, nothing happens in a vacuum. We’re not experiencing a half century long, random act of spontaneous illegal immigration taking place due to some temporary lapse in the law of cause and effect. We live in a highly ordered universe created by an Intelligent Designer Who told us that neither He, nor the laws that He designed into His creation, will be mocked – what men sow, they will reap. If we’re reaping something that we don’t like, then somewhere along the way we’ve sown the wrong seed.
We have sown the seed of being a nation that consumes such a large quantity of drugs that it has enriched the cartels that service our habit to the point that they can destabilize and spread a reign of violence over four sovereign nations. We have sown the seed of inordinate loyalty to two corrupt political parties, neither of which honors God nor follows the Constitution anymore. We have sown mindless, ditto-head following of talking heads and political isms that we let do our thinking for us so we don’t have to do the hard work of actually understanding the issues for ourselves. We have sown the forsaking of virtue and courage – voting for politicians who we know do not represent what is truly right, but we are afraid that the other big government, secular humanist, socialist, career politician might get in instead. We have even sown the seeds of hypocrisy as we angrily rage against one President or political party, then turn around and let ourselves be duped into supporting another that perpetuates most of the same policies.
The real problem didn’t originate solely south of the border, nor entirely inside the beltway. Until we take responsibility for our own country’s spiritual and moral condition and for the results of our own political choices, no amount of complaining, marching in the streets or writing cards and letters to our Congressman is going to fix it.
Let’s take responsibility, admit to God that we’ve screwed up, then ask Him to show us what seeds to start sowing so we can reap a better harvest.
One of the things I found myself wanting to say while writing this article, is that the thing most needed and which a Christian people should be most earnestly desiring, is the preaching of the Gospel and the bringing of The Blessing of God to those countries where poverty and violence are causing people to flee to the U.S. Just a week after publishing the article, a ministry that I support notified me that they are currently raising funds for a ministry event in Guatemala. If this article has affected you as it did me when I wrote it, then here’s at least one opportunity to to give the people of Guatemala the thing they truly need most – http://www.gofundme.com/cc5kvg