Reader's View, immigration reform: Path to citizenship leading country in wrong direction

April 19, 2013 

Congress is on the verge of putting together a bipartisan agreement that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants (70 percent of which are from Mexico). This plan is bad news for currently unemployed Americans and for legal immigrants who played by the rules and obeyed America's immigration laws.

These people will now face stiff competition for scarce jobs in construction, landscaping, housekeeping, restaurants, etc. from amnestied illegal immigrants (who will often work for less money).

This so-called "solution to fix our broken immigration system" is a sleazy political game played by both Democrats and Republicans.

Most Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have always supported amnesties for illegal immigrants, so no surprise there. During the 2012 election Obama received 70 percent of Hispanic votes, so it is pay-back time for him.

Republicans used to insist that immigration laws be enforced (provided enforcement did not affect their financial supporters, the large agricultural and other businesses of America that rely on hiring and exploiting cheap immigrant labor to remain profitable).

Republicans lost the last presidential election, primarily because Mitt Romney did not get enough Hispanics votes. So, they now realize they need to suck up to the rapidly growing population of Hispanic voters if they want to remain a relevant party.

I was once a legally admitted immigrant, too. I have been a naturalized American for a long time. Because it is relevant, I shall now tell you about my life as an immigrant, before I became an American:

Thanks to the Pastore-Walter Act of 1958, which allowed a small group of refugees from the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, to immigrate to the U.S. from Holland, I was allowed to come here with my family in 1959. I had been an infantry army officer in the Dutch Army before immigrating. Yet I was not above taking a job in a sweatshop factory at the minimum wage of $1.35/hour since better jobs were unavailable during the recession of 1958-1961. By working hard, I managed to work my way up the ladder to become manager of engineering of a large Columbia Records manufacturing plant in Indiana within 10 years of entering the United States as a penniless immigrant with a wife and three small kids.

I am certain I would never have accomplished that if I had had to compete with illegal immigrants who had received their free education at taxpayers' expense.

Our elected officials' memories are so short! They forget what happened after the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). It:

1. Required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status.

2. Made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants.

3. Legalized certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants.

4. Legalized about 3 million illegal immigrants who had entered the United States before Jan. 1, 1982 and had resided here continuously after paying a fine and back taxes due, and after admission of guilt. About 3 million illegal immigrants were granted legal status.

Enforcement of items one and two were inadequate and employers got away with circumventing them. More illegal immigrants entered the U.S. after IRCA and similar amnesties during the 1990s. Unless we secure our borders and shores and ensure employers don't hire illegal immigrants, the same will happen again after this amnesty.

I suggest you call your representatives in Congress. Tell them: "Stop this plan! Take care of Americans first, before rewarding illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship!"

Robert Boester, of Boise, is the founder of the now-defunct organization Idahoans for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (IFIRE).

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service