I don't read or hear anyone asking the question I'm about to ask, so I might as well do it (drum roll, please!): Why are the Democrats so anxious to create a haven in America for illegal aliens?
Mind you, there are many Republicans who stand alongside them. Businesses large and small who typically vote Republican are looking for a source of cheap, hard-working labor. There are a number of Democrats who are against streamlining the path to citizenship for illegal aliens because of their impact on the low end of the labor workforce, specifically the downward pressure they exert on wages and benefits.
What I don't understand, however, is the rush by the Democratic leadership to grant the privileges of citizenship to illegal aliens despite their status as lawbreakers. The U.S. Congress is in the midst of a donnybrook (does anyone use that word anymore?) over a vote where the Republicans appeared to have won in their attempts to keep illegal aliens from receiving taxpayer benefits in an agriculture appropriations bill, only to have the Democrats use a questionable procedural move to keep the vote open and get the result they wanted. Aside from the brazenness of this procedural move, why did they risk the outrage of the Republican minority and millions of Americans so that their taxes could be spent on illegal aliens? The debate on extending the State Children's Healthcare Plan (SCHIP) centered on extending health coverage to children in families who can in fact afford health insurance, but the bill also attempted to extend this coverage to illegal alien families. Given that this program apparently covers adults as well as children despite its moniker, they can't or shouldn't say with a straight face that they're doing it for the children. Again, why the rush to spend our tax money on illegal aliens?
Here in Maryland, Governor O'Malley and the General Assembly are lying in wait to extend citizen benefits to illegal aliens, specifically the issuance of state driver's licenses and in-state tuition benefits to the children of illegal aliens. Both of these proposed pieces of legislation, if passed, would be a clarion call to illegal aliens that Maryland is the place to be. Once they have a driver's license, they practically have de facto legal status. The tuition bill is more complex since it targets the children of illegal aliens rather than the lawbreakers themselves, but it still sends the message that Maryland is a haven for them because it is willing to extend taxpayer benefits to their family members.
Our governmental monopoly in Annapolis is oblivious to the impact these bills will have on law-abiding Marylanders. For example, our driver's licenses will fail to meet federal standards for identification credentials and will no longer be accepted at airports as proof of who we are. Subsidizing the cost of education for the children of illegal aliens by offering them in-state tuition has a cost, whether it's higher taxes to extend the in-state tuition subsidy to these children or limited admissions that keep out the children of Marylanders living here legally. Proponents of this bill speak of compassion, but what about the aspirations of young Marylanders who depend on in-state tuition to make college affordable, and whose parents support the state university system through income taxes, something most illegal aliens don't do? What about the children with college dreams whose parents aren't lawbreakers? What message are we sending these children about the rule of law? Where is the compassion for them?
That brings me back to my question: Why? We're struggling right now as a state with an impending budget deficit of $1.5 billion this upcoming fiscal year because the government is projected to spend a great deal more than what it raises through taxes and fees. The nation is facing crises in health care, education and national security among other things that in part require tax revenues to resolve. Why are we extending taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens when our citizens' needs are not being fully met? Indeed, why are we extending them the privileges of citizenship at all?
No one is attempting to answer this question; indeed, the usual arguments dodge the question. "These are not criminals; they're hard-working, God-fearing people," we're told. Fine - there are a lot of hard-working, God-fearing people behind bars right now because they broke the law. Neither my work ethic nor my faith exempts me from the law - would anyone disagree with that? "Oh, you're just a bigot," they cry. I won't deny that there are some out there who are passionately against immigration reform because they fear our country's identity will be subsumed by Hispanic language and culture. That's not me, however, and it's not the millions from both sides of the political spectrum who pressured the U.S. Senate into defeating the immigration reform bill.
I am an advocate of legal immigration - it's how I found my bride! I am moved by the millions of people who are standing in lines at U.S. embassies and consulates all over the world awaiting permission to enter the U.S. legally. It makes me proud that all these people are willingly leaving their homelands to come here. We're doing something right, anti-American propaganda to the contrary. I suspect that millions of other Americans feel the same way.
We also believe, however, that laws are instituted for a reason, and secure borders, particularly in an age of transnational terrorism, are a fundamental responsibility of the federal government, one which they are failing to fulfill. We believe that it's important to manage the influx of immigrants into this country so our economic and social systems are not strained beyond capacity, and we aren't inheriting the problems of other countries, specifically their convicted felons. We believe that it's important for our government to secure the border first and deal with the issue of those illegal aliens already in our country later. Government is rickety enough as it is, burdened by all the expectations that have been heaped upon it in recent decades, and we question their ability to successfully manage a so-called comprehensive approach to immigration. History is on our side - the comprehensive approach was tried before with the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986 and it failed. When you're taking on water, the logical first step is to plug the leak, then bail out the water. Why is this common-sense approach being rejected by the advocates for illegal aliens?
There is some other reason why the Democrats are hell-bent on extending the benefits of citizenship to illegal aliens. I have an opinion, but my objective is to challenge our pro-illegal alien elected officials to explain themselves to us, the people who put them in office. Don't let them call you names or question your compassion for these hard-working people who are just looking for a better way of life. That argument hasn't kept us from putting lawbreakers behind bars or punishing them in other circumstances - why is this circumstance different? Don't let them tell you that fines and back taxes are a sufficient penalty and don't constitute amnesty. They will still achieve legal immigrant status and citizenship faster than the millions who obeyed the law to come here and the millions more who wait to immigrate here legally. Why are they being put on the fast track? Don't be intimidated by your elected officials when it comes to tough questions like this. Remember that you hired them and you can fire them, and that makes you the boss.