- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 9, 2005

The Department of Homeland Security conducted a simulated terrorism drill last week in Connecticut and New Jersey to assess the speed and effectiveness of law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

Rep. Chris Cox, California Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said a major reason for the drill was to find our “weak spots.”

What does it say about our anti-terrorist efforts if we prepare for disasters in Connecticut and New Jersey instead of directing substantial efforts on our weakest spot: the borders?

The Bush administration’s weakest spot is its refusal to stop illegal aliens (not “undocumented workers” in the politically correct lingo that seeks to pull the wool over our eyes) from invading our nation.

Numerous officials have said another terrorist attack is not a matter of if, but when. Among low-wage workers in fields, restaurant kitchens and other venues are radical Islamic terrorists whose sole purpose is to kill Americans and weaken our economy. They have said so and continue saying so in their schools and mosques on our soil and similar places worldwide.

In the face of this, we get nothing but meaningless mumbo jumbo from defenders of illegal immigration, who ask us to look at how much these lawbreakers contribute to Social Security.

Last weekend, a group of citizens concerned about our porous borders gathered along the Arizona-Mexico border to help the understaffed Border Patrol locate illegal aliens. The Minuteman Project says 118 were caught because of their efforts.

Instead of praising this peaceful assembly, President Bush called them “vigilantes.” They are no such thing. They are citizens who want to preserve what they love about America. They believe open borders are destructive and illegal immigration is a threat to the nation’s security and character.

Illegal immigration also costs taxpayers a lot of money. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, welfare payments, including food stamps, paid to illegal immigrants in Arizona totaled $4,698,000 just in 2001.

Sen. Jon Kyle, Arizona Republican, asked the Arizona Hospital and Health-care Association how much illegal aliens cost state taxpayers. He was told $31 million in just one year. Lawbreakers get free medical care, which taxpayers subsidize, further burdening our health-care system.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform examined data related to the cost effect of illegal aliens in California. It concluded state taxpayers pay $10.5 billion yearly for illegals’ education, medical care and incarceration.

As to the claim working illegal aliens help subsidize the overburdened Social Security system, FAIR says even if their contributions are subtracted from what they cost taxpayers, net outlays still amount to $9 billion yearly. That breaks down to about $1,183 per California household headed by a native-born citizen. Is it fair that law-abiding American citizens subsidize lawbreaking illegal immigrants?

The Minuteman Project is temporary. Though U.S. and Mexican authorities estimate the volunteers cut illegal immigration by half, the citizen groups are expected to be gone next month and areas they patrolled will likely again become virtual superhighways for lawbreakers. Meanwhile, smugglers and trespassers have shifted to less-protected border areas.

The Departments of State and Homeland Security announced Tuesday that American citizens will be required to show a passport when re-entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, Panama, Bermuda and the Caribbean by 2008. Whatever benefits might come from this new effort — and the ridiculous body searches of frequent flyers like me and little old ladies in wheelchairs — shouldn’t we pay at least as much attention to the illegal aliens flooding into this country?

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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