America is a nation of law and majority rule. That’s what our founders intended, but sometimes you wonder when judges and lawmakers ignore the clear will of the people.
This is why last month’s procedural vote in the U.S. Senate that killed the immigration reform bill proposed by the White House, Democrats and key Republican leaders was a victory for America. Most national polls show the majority opinion of Americans who opposed the bill was not just a shade over 50%, but a resounding 80% or more. When you consider that some polled were undecided, that’s not a majority, it’s an avalanche!
The tally fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to cut off debate, leading to a final vote that would have required only a simple majority. Now, President Bush and members of both parties on Capitol Hill agree the topic is unlikely to be considered again until after the 2008 presidential election.
Immigration is almost entirely a federal issue. Nationally the estimated number of illegal aliens in the U.S. ranges from 12-to-20 million. For the County of San Diego, the ramifications of people who are here illegally, impacts nearly every department. In just one area, the cost of law enforcement is millions of dollars more than what the federal government reimburses us.
The proposed immigration reform bill that went down in flames had many things I did not agree with, including retirement benefits for illegal aliens, and a requirement that taxpayers foot the bills for lawyers who defend illegal aliens working in agriculture. There was also an amnesty provision for illegal alien gang members if they promised to give up their gang status.
We have federal laws on the books right now to have an impact on illegal immigration that are not being enforced. I disagree with those who say the laws are unenforceable.
With that said, I believe we need additional state and federal legislation to strengthen existing laws and also a measure that protects our democracy at the polls. For many years, I have urged lawmakers to require photo identification before a person can vote. If you must show a photo to rent a movie, what’s the big deal about showing your photo at the polls?
I also think something must be done to ensure that family members in our country must establish legal residency over a prescribed period of time in order to receive benefits.
While federal officials haggle over building a border fence, I think our Border Patrol should receive more funds and be allowed to step up aerial surveillance and use other high tech devices to spot people entering the U.S. illegally. If you can see satellite close ups of your neighborhood on your home computer, surely, we have the means to do a better job of spotting people crossing the border.
We also need to learn from past mistakes. The 1986 law that granted amnesty for more than three million illegal aliens who had entered the country was a failure. Employer sanctions either were not enforced or did not work and people who were hiding in the shadows did not come forward and assimilate into our society.
We must control our borders. The fight for our nation’s survival begins there.
The American people made their voices heard loud and clear by phone, on the radio and over TV and their thoughts equally forceful by E-mail.
There were enough of our federal legislators who listened and acted. While the vote that brought the immigration reform bill to a halt was in the Senate, there was hard work that went on in the House, including efforts by Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Brian Bilbray. I’m grateful to them and all of you who stood up at such an important time in our nation’s history.
I would welcome your thoughts on this. Please E-mail me at email@example.com. Thanks!
In this edition of the “Word,” stories include honors for the County in how we do business, big financial boosts for Fallbrook, an overdue help to give North County Veterans a place to meet, support for two cultural icons, and personal thoughts on people, places and things connected with July 4.