In more than 25 years of patriotic immigration reform activism, I’ve never been able to understand one thing: why the illegal immigration lobby makes such a big deal of amnesty when the aliens are living in complete comfort as it is.
Whenever an amnesty push comes up, especially when it’s reinforced by huge public marches in downtown Los Angeles or on Capitol Hill, citizens get riled up, phone their Congressmen and demand that aliens be promptly deported.
But as long as things remain in the status quo, aliens go about their business with little if any interference.
As evidence, consider the recently published Pew Hispanic Center report and titled Unauthorized Immigrants: Length of Residency and Patterns of Parenthood. According to Pew, 35 percent of illegal aliens over 18 have lived in the U.S. for 15 years or more; 28 percent, 10-14 years; 22 percent 5-9 years and 15 percent less than 5 years. Nearly two-thirds of the approximate 10 million aliens have lived in the United States for 10 or more years.
Pew also notes that during their residency, of the aliens with 10 years or longer standing half have American citizen anchor baby children. Another Pew finding: Few of the long term aliens return home voluntarily.
And why should they? While here, illegal immigrants can enroll their children in free K-12 education, access certain social services and become gainfully employed either in the underground economy or with the help of falsified documents for which there is a readily available black market. At the same time, they lobby with some realistic hope of success for more entitlements like the DREAM Act.
What the Pew report also proves is that, despite all the hoopla about living “in the shadows” and in fear of deportation, the odds are that once an alien gets to the United States, he’s here to stay.
United States citizenship, the ultimate amnesty reward, is one of the few tangible advantages that an alien doesn’t enjoy as part of his current existence. But during nearly three decades of working as an English as a Second Language instructor to tens of thousands of immigrants, some of them illegal, I never got the impression that citizenship mattered to them. Few even inquired.
The Pew report reinforces the importance of passing the Legal Workforce Act that would remove the jobs magnet and also passing the Birthright Citizenship Act that would require at least one parent to be an American or a legal immigrant before citizenship would be conferred on a newborn.