So, what is the reality about immigration into the United States? Is it the “humanitarian crisis at the border” some speak about or is it, as others maintain, nothing much to worry about since apprehensions along the Southwestern border are now at an all time low?
Both statements are correct – to a point. Border apprehensions are down. But it used to be the majority of immigrants were solo males looking for work to send money home. Today it is mostly families with children attempting to enter the U.S. and we are simply not equipped to handle them all.
Americans hardly know what to believe anymore. We live in a facts-be-damned era where assertions are made and then reported by the news media, often with no perspective or assurance that the comments are true.
Take the august New York Times, for example. As late as February’s State of the Union speech the Times declared the president’s description of the current immigration situation as an “urgent national crisis” was false. The Washington Post warned readers not to be fooled by the “make believe crisis.” CNN said flatly, “There is no national emergency.”
Less than a month later the New York Times ran front page articles on the explosion of sex crimes against female migrants and a piece with the breathless headline: “Border at ‘Breaking Point’ as More Than 76,000 Migrants Cross in a Month.” No explanation for their flip-flopped attitude. No retraction for reporting there was no crisis.
The reality is that clear thinkers cannot just look at what the immigration system is right now. We must look at the issue with a wider lens and realize that it is the cumulative effect of our lackadaisical immigration policies over the last few decades that have brought us to this reckoning point.
The snowballing economic strain that immigration (both legal and illegal) has put on our welfare system, public schools, health care programs and hospitals has drained away multiple billions of dollars that could have been allocated to needy U.S. citizens.
There are those who argue that the economics will all level out over time because the children of immigrants will mature to become contributing tax paying members of society. Maybe but there is no guarantee that their collective contributions will ever amount to what U.S. taxpayers have already shelled out.
Let’s just take a look at one fascinating slice of the federal budget – that of the federal prison system –to gauge the impact of immigration. David Olen Cross is a crime researcher who writes on immigration and crimes committed by foreign nationals for Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher. Cross regularly compiles both state and national figures that should make every rational policy maker grow pale.
Using the U.S. Bureau of Prisons February 2019 citizenship statistics Cross discovered that 19.3% of the current federal prison population holds a foreign passport. The highest percentage of foreign-born prisoners are from Mexico (12.1%), Columbia (0.9%), Dominican Republic (0.8%), Cuba (0.7%) and 4.9% are from other/unknown countries.
So, what crimes did these 179,917 convicts commit? 77,200 of them are serving time on drug offenses. Convictions for weapons, explosives and/or arson account for more than 30,500 prisoners. 16,487 were found guilty of sex crimes, 5,455 committed a homicide, aggravated assault or a kidnapping.
Imagine if our federal prison system didn’t have to care for those tens of thousands of convicts. Uncle Sam’s 2018 fiscal year prison budget of nearly $7.2 billion could be lowered by nearly 20%. Yep, the Bureau of Prisons could have saved an estimated $1.44 billion in just one fiscal year. If you don’t think that sounds impressive ask yourself how happy you’d be if you suddenly had 20% more money in your savings account. Imagine what other sectors could save if illegal immigration was brought under control.
Look, don’t call it a crisis. Don’t call it an emergency. But don’t fail to call it a real problem for this country.
Back in 2009, when President Obama was in office, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer told a group at Georgetown University it was a problem. “Illegal immigration is wrong plain and simple,” Schumer said and he cautioned the group, “When we use phrases like undocumented workers, we convey a message to the American people that their government is not serious about combating illegal immigration.”
So, where is leader Schumer today? Standing next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi railing about this president’s plan for a wall yet passing no legislation of their own that would begin to tackle the nation’s immigration problems. In what world is doing nothing okay?
You would think Congressional leaders would want to do everything possible to keep the population safe from outside criminals. That they cannot get it together to compromise on immigration is shameful. Not only are American taxpayers and crime victims hurt but also those desperate migrant families who take the perilous trip north only to find themselves trapped at the border.
Note to Washington: Do your job. Pass meaningful immigration reform. Now.