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But breaking the law is not the best way to start a new life in a country that claims to be based on the rule of law. There is also a darker undercurrent within the uncontrolled stream of illegal immigrants — the influx of hardened criminals who come to commit crime. “As long as our borders remain porous, they are just as open to criminals and terrorists as they are to illegal aliens,” says T.J. Bonner.
Illegal aliens are some of the most violent criminals in the United States today. In an article in the City Journal, Heather Mac Donald reports that illegal aliens account for 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (out of a total of 1,200 to 1,500). This figure is up by two-thirds for all felony warrants (17,000). Illegal immigration also feeds the growing membership of violent gangs.
The public is also becoming increasingly aware of the cost to taxpayers of supporting high levels of illegal immigration. Harvard economist George Borjas, in his book Heaven’s Door, says that today’s immigrants, of which a major percentage are illegal, possess fewer skills and are more dependent on public assistance than their predecessors, and that their children, unlike the children of previous waves of immigrants, are less likely to follow the upwardly mobile tract. He writes that they are more likely to remain poor and live in segregated communities.
Moreover, he says, the inexhaustible influx of cheap, exploitable labor adds little to the overall economy. He calculates that the net annual gain, as of 1999, was only about $8 billion per year. Yet by dragging down wages for those native born at the lower end of the economic scale, Borjas estimates that some $160 million per year is shifted away from workers and toward employers and consumers of public services.
Taxes paid by immigrants as a group are low due to their disproportionately low-skill status and thus their low level of income, while their consumption of tax-supported services are high due to their high fertility and poverty rates, factors made far more significant by the large proportion of illegal immigrants among them.
Recently the National Research Council estimated that the total cost to the taxpayer of illegal immigration, which is carried mainly by local and state governments, is $11 to $22 billion a year for education, criminal justice, and medical care. Once a child is born to illegal aliens, the child is eligible for welfare since people born in the United States are American citizens. Illegal residents who have such “anchor babies” can tap into the welfare system, thus adding to the total bill the taxpayer picks up for illegal immigration. California alone has a net cost of $3 billion dollars in a single year for such services.
The problem is most critical for hospitals. By law anyone coming to an emergency room must be treated. Since illegal workers are not covered by insurance, they use emergency room service as their sole source of health care. The cost falls to the hospital, whether private or public, to the point where some facilities have simply closed their doors. When the federal government proposed to spend $4 billion partially to reimburse doctors and hospitals, many native-born working poor asked why they should be burdened with debt to pay medical bills while their taxes subsidize the free care of people who are in the country illegally.
Remittances each year also remove billions of dollars from circulation within the American economy, and the underground economy created by illegal immigration is, according to some economists, growing at perhaps a faster rate than the legitimate economy, thus costing the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars in lost taxes, money that if collected would wipe out the current budget deficit. The exploitation of cheap immigrant labor is therefore by no means cheap for taxpayers who are in essence subsidizing many special interest groups that profit from cheap foreign labor.
Uncontrolled illegal immigration is pushing down wages at the lower end of the income scale, incurring high costs to the taxpayer, and depriving the government of revenue it needs to meet its obligations. That the second generation of immigrants will not assimilate in the way other waves of immigrants eventually did poses another troubling problem. Sociologists Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rimbaut, in Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation, say that the “transformative potential, for better or for worse,” of the second generation “is immense” with the possibility that it will “catalyze a quantum leap in social problems.” In a similar vein Harvard scholar and political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, warns in his latest book Who Are We? that “nothing less than our national identity is at stake” if the historically unprecedented wave of mass migration is allowed to continue.p> PURPOSELY POROUS BORDERS
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