- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 27, 2006

Some people worry amnesty will give illegal aliens the same rights as U.S. citizens. In reality, it will give illegals more rights than the average citizen.

Since most of the illegals are Mexican, that makes them a minority. Under affirmative action, combined with amnesty, they would have preferences in jobs and other benefits.

Those who set up their own businesses would be entitled to preferences in getting government contracts. Their children could get into college ahead of the children of U.S. citizens with better academic qualifications. Illegals who graduate from a California high school already can attend the University of California, paying lower tuition than a U.S. citizen from neighboring Oregon.

Under the supposedly “tough” immigration bill in the U.S. Senate, illegals don’t have to pay all the back taxes they owe. An American citizen gets no such break from the government and can end up in federal prison, like Al Capone. If a U.S. citizen is stopped by the police for a traffic violation and they discover he is wanted for some other violation of the law, they can arrest him for whatever else he has done.

But if an illegal alien is stopped for going through a red light and the police discover he is in the country illegally, in many communities the cop is forbidden to arrest him for that — or even to report him to the feds.

If an American citizen forges a Social Security card to get a job, he can be arrested. Under a provision recently passed by the Senate, illegal aliens who forged Social Security cards not only get a pass, they get to collect Social Security benefits.

The great majority of senators who voted for that provision were Democrats, and they prevailed because they were joined by a small minority of Republicans, led by — surprise — Arizona Sen. John McCain. After similar defections on judges and free speech, Mr. McCain may give opportunism a bad name.

The immigration bill in the Senate has become just another attempt to pander to another special interest, in disregard of how that affects the country as a whole.

Much is made of the fact there are supposedly 12 million illegals in the country already. The last time illegal aliens were given amnesty, back in 1986, that led to even more illegal aliens coming in. Do we want 20 million or 30 million more illegal aliens in the future? Do we want to change the very composition of the American population, and with it the values of the country?

There was a time when immigrants came here to become Americans. But there are powerful pressure groups in this country, extending far beyond the immigrant community, doing their best to keep foreigners foreign and force Americans to accommodate their foreign language and culture in the name of “multiculturalism.”

We have seen what havoc such notions and practices have created after mass immigration under “guest worker” programs in Europe, especially after the Muslim riots in France. Do we want that in the United States?

Most of the first generation of immigrants may want nothing more than a chance to work and will be happy to be here instead of Mexico. But second generations born here compare their situation not with Mexico but what other Americans have. There are plenty of people, both inside and outside the immigrant community, who will fan their sense of grievance and exploit their resentments. This is not peculiar to people from Mexico. Europe has already experienced this.

Both the facts of the past and the dangers of the future are ignored in the rush to give immediate benefits to illegal aliens, washed down with much talk about border control but no requirement that the border actually be controlled before these benefits go into effect.

The political strategy of this package deal legislation is to give immediate and irrevocable special benefits to some and make pious promises about the future to get all this past the others.

Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.


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