Columns » Bob McCord

Slow down immigration

by and

Republicans seem to be the only politicians who really want to slow down immigration, especially the illegal kind, and I’m with them. Millions are coming every year, and that’s too many and too dangerous because of the fear of another 9-11. It bothers our Arkansas Republicans in the legislature, but some of them have gone too far. They want the State Police to act like federal officers and chase down illegal immigrants — Mexicans who have come to Arkansas to try to find jobs. This law would mean that Mexicans in every car could be stopped by troopers who already have more crimes and crashes to investigate than they can handle. The State Police chief rejected the idea at first but then came around for fear that his appropriation might be cut by the legislators if he didn’t play ball. While there have been no complaints about illegal Mexicans trying to vote in Arkansas, Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller told reporters he was wary of it, saying that when he lived in foreign countries, he wasn’t permitted to vote in their elections. Sen. Jim Holt of Springdale, who wanted but failed to be elected to the U. S. Senate last year, is opposed to giving state scholarships (or any other state services) to kids who aren’t citizens. Rep. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville, minority leader in the House, said, “For us to say there’s not a problem with illegals here in the state is sticking our heads in the sand.” Surely if immigrants have found their way to the United States and come peacefully to Arkansas to find a job, the state should help them just as it would any other human being. The problem is that there are too many illegal ones coming in and not enough border police to stop them. The Census Bureau says there are nearly 40 million Hispanics in the U.S., and 9.4 percent of them have come in since 2000. About one million illegals slip in every year, most of them coming from or through Mexico. When it was made clear that some of the men who planned and executed the 9-11 attacks had gotten easily into the United States and lived here before killing 3,000 innocent Americans, there was interest in tightening entry. President Bush moved the responsibility of immigration from the Department of Justice to a new Department of Homeland Security, which, unfortunately, is short-handed and suffering from environmentalists in San Diego who have stopped the plugging of a gap in a 14-mile fence along the border because it might harm wetlands and an estuary. Last week the president, remembering that most Mexicans voted for him last November, resurrected a plan that he thought up early last year — illegal immigrants could stay for three more years but then they would have to return to their country and come back to the U.S. in the legal way. Many Republicans in the House — including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas — are against it, saying it’s amnesty. If we are lucky, the Bush plan won’t become law. The fear, of course, is that fanatical Muslims, longing for the 40 virgins they have been promised in heaven if they commit suicide while killing Americans, will sneak across the barely-guarded 7,500 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders. Then there’s the argument that these heavy waves of immigrants, legal or illegal, are really hurting the nation economically. Hundreds of jobs are being eliminated weekly and unemployed Americans badly need those welfare funds that the Bush Administration plans to cut. Several other nations such as Australia and Germany are slowing down immigration. Great Britain is about to give admission only to people who speak English, limit the number of dependents and accept only people who have the skills and talents that Britain needs. The United States should do the same, even though companies would howl because they always can hire immigrants for the minimum wage or even less. Why, if they had to hire more Americans, they would have to pay more than the minimum wage, which, by the way, hasn’t been raised since 1997, the longest wait in history. By the time you read this, I hope the Arkansas House of Representatives has turned down Deltic Timber’s bill that would make Central Arkansas Water the only waterworks in the state that can’t control what sits on the banks of its source of water, which is Lake Maumelle. It furnishes water to 350,000 customers. But Deltic Timber, obviously a real pal to most of the senators who passed its bill, wants to sell big, lake view lots for $250,000 and up. Wouldn’t you imagine that people who paid that much would surely have a dog or two and maybe a horse in their fertilized yards that would defecate into the water we will have to drink? And you also can see why Delta Timber doesn’t want to back up. It knows the waterfront will attract people who will pay big money for land that Delta Timber has assessed for taxes at $1.60 an acre.

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