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Paul Strickland: Session on immigration much-needed

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: February 18, 2010 9:57 p.m.
Updated: February 19, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Hurrah to the Santa Clarita City Council for unanimously voting to provide a public study session on the effect of illegal immigration on its citizens.

Yes, indeed, participatory democracy in this great republic begins and ends with city councils and school boards.

The magnitude of the 800-pound gorilla called illegal immigration pervades every fiber of our nation’s economic woes, and yet our elected officials don’t have the wherewithal to institute the changes necessary to fix it.

I am reminded of a well-known analogy in the private business sector called the “Burning Platform.” Briefly, a raging fire awakens a man working on an oil platform. Even though he knows it is more than a 100-foot drop from the platform to the 40-degree sea, he jumps. Fortunately, a nearby boat rescues him.

When asked why he jumped, the man said, “Better probable death than certain death.”

Illegal immigration is our burning platform. Unlike federal and state leaders, our City Council has actually initiated forums that may set the stage for real change.

Let’s hope the study session doesn’t get bogged down with discussion about people standing on street corners seeking work.

The ramifications of an estimated 12 million-20 million illegal immigrants in our country is a more far-reaching, substantive problem.

It has been allowed to fester for years, creating immense adverse effects and unknown devastating costs to our nation, states and cities.

Local and state governments are stymied because they will not or cannot enforce national laws, and federal officials practice selective enforcement.

The U.S. Congress has complicated matters by enacting “touchy-feely” legislation that negates the ability of police officers to make arrests and/or deport the law-breaking illegal immigrants.

Our federal government is sending mixed messages. It threatens those who sneak into our country with arrest, yet the government provides instant citizenship to any child born within the borders of our country.

Since they cannot be asked to show documentation, most illegal immigrants and their children — citizens or not — are given a free public education, and free social services including food stamps and health care.

County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s office provides a monthly news release that stated that illegal immigrants’ children collected about $570 million in social services in 2009.

“When you add this to $350 million for public safety and nearly $500 million for health care, the total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers far exceeds $1 billion a year — not including the millions of dollars for education,” the release stated.

The 2010 U.S. census will not only determine how federal dollars are allocated, but also readjust the entire configuration of the House of Representatives for the next 10 years.

To that end, it bears recalling a recent article by Jonathan Randles in The Signal, about the upcoming census-taking in Santa Clarita.

He reported that Sandra Alvarado, spokeswoman for the L.A. Regional Census Center, stressed the need to protect the privacy of individuals. Census employees can be sentenced to five years in prison and fined $250,000 if they do not do so.

They cannot request Social Security numbers and cannot ask people if they are legal citizens.

Laws prevent the Census Bureau from giving information to the IRS or immigration agencies.

With these “don’t ask, don’t tell” restrictions, whose rights are really being protected?  

Many of our states are losing population because American citizens are not reproducing in large enough numbers to sustain government programs. States are openly recruiting illegal immigrants by providing driver’s licenses in order to take advantage of federal and state programs yielding dollars based on head counts.

This serves to blur their immigration status, and opens the door to potential “motor-voter” fraud, which is another federal crime hard to prove and hard to enforce.

Why doesn’t our City Council ask California legislators to follow Indiana’s lead and require voters to show personal identification when voting at the polls?

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that in April 2007 with a 6-3 vote.

State officials should also be asked about their recent budget-saving decision to release prisoners to the streets of California.

Why not identify the estimated 25-30 percent of prisoners here illegally, and deport them instead?

Knowing the facts about immigration in the United States, if you are trapped in abject poverty in an overpopulated Third World country, would you risk arrest and possible deportation to come to the United States? You betcha. That’s a no-brainer.

The Signal quoted city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz as saying: “We want to make sure we reach out to everyone who is impacted: the state, county, the school districts, to make sure we’re all-encompassing.”

Let’s bring it on!

Paul B. Strickland Sr. is a resident of Santa Clarita. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. “Right Here, Right Now” runs Fridays in The Signal and rotates among several local Republican writers.


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