As the son and grandson of immigrants who fled Soviet tyranny, I understand your empathy for those who want to come to the United States. My mother and her parents left Hungary in the aftermath of World War II, when the country was first occupied by Soviet forces. My father and his mother became refugees following the Revolution of 1956. Both my parents lived in refugee camps, my mother for several years.
Although born in the USA, I moved to Budapest in 1990, two months after the first free elections. I lived there for eight years, met a Hungarian girl, married her and had two children before returning to the United States where we had two more children. Our children were raised speaking Hungarian at home.
I understand empathy for immigrants. I really do.
However, there is a problem with too much empathy. America was built on the work and talents of immigrants – legal immigrants. What is happening today is that we are diluting that heritage by conflating legitimate immigrants with illegal aliens. To be blunt, those who have come here illegally – regardless of how long they have lived here – are not immigrants. They are law breakers. And no Nation can survive if it excuses massive incidences of violating the law.
To use the term “immigrant” to describe the lawbreakers is an insult to the tens of millions of Americans who stood in line, waited their turns and respected the laws and traditions of this great Nation.
One of the arguments of those seeking legalization is that we cannot apprehend 12-13 million illegal aliens. In point of fact, we cannot afford to excuse 13 million people breaking the law. Doing so neutralizes the legitimacy of all Federal law. No Government is entitled to make the subjective choice to indemnify millions who have broken one set of laws while continuing to enforce other laws unabated. The force of law loses its validity when we do so.
You and those seeking legalization do your best to frame the argument as a binary choice: either try to deport everyone or legalize everyone. That is a disingenuous definition of the issue. Indeed, it is logically absurd. The issue is legalization or enforcement. And enforcement of the law goes beyond simply locking down our borders, although that is an important piece of the puzzle. Enforcement also means actively prosecuting employers who hire illegal aliens. Enforcement means ending all social benefits to those who have broken the law to come to this country. Enforcement means taking reasonable and unyielding measures to make it impossible for illegal aliens to make a living here, thereby causing the circumstances of their lives to prompt them to leave the United States. We could even re-direct some of the money which is currently wasted on social programs for illegal aliens into providing transportation for those who leave voluntarily. After all, we provide transportation for those who are deported by force of law.
You claim that legalization of illegal aliens would not constitute amnesty simply because they would be required to pay a nominal fine in order to remain here. Yet, the fine is not appreciably greater than the costs of those who apply legitimately to be allowed to take up permanent residency in the United States, those who often wait years – as my parents did – to be granted permission to become Americans and who wait patiently outside the US for that permission. Regardless of the legalisms and word games, that is amnesty in the real world. If your plan were to include appreciable fines on the order of several tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps we Americans could consider that. Were you to say that illegal aliens have to pay a signficant extra surcharge every year they live here for the rest of their lives, we might be able to swallow that. If your solution would involve a permanent ban on citizenship for legalized illegal aliens, we might be able to hold our noses and accept that.
Then again, given that we have had to live with this problem for so many years, we may not find any solution which allows them to remain in our country to be acceptable. We have been violated. We have been victims of massive trespassing. We have had our country – our home – invaded. In our view, the morality of this issue is not about what illegal aliens want or feel they need but rather about the fact that we are the victims and we have a right to demand justice.
A country is a home every bit as much as a house. We have a right to decide the conditions under which outsiders enter our homes. And we have the right to eject those who choose to invade our homes. We are entitled to do so without consideration for their reasons, their excuses, their alibis, their stories. We have a right to disregard the narratives in order to reject and evict the lawbreakers while being able to open our home to those who respect our laws and our choices.
Under no circumstances is this issue about the rights and needs and desires of those who break our laws. This is about our rights, our choices, our laws. As a member of our Federal Government’s Legislative Branch and as a candidate for the Office of the President, that should be your exclusive consideration. The question of what the lawbreakers want or need should not even enter into the discussion.
Because we are the victims, not them.
I realize that the Republican Party leadership wants this problem to go away and is therefore intent on enacting an “Immigration Reform” measure which ends the question of who is an illegal alien in America. The GOP leadership underestimates the anger of the Conservative base within the Party and does so to the peril of our future political victories.
My grandparents and parents were immigrants. I lived for an extended period abroad. I married a foreigner and went through the immigration process with her. Two of my children were born in another country. We raised our kids in a bilingual home. I should be the poster child for promoting the legalization agenda. Yet, I oppose it wholeheartedly.
So, ask yourself this, Senator: if those like me oppose the legalization of illegal aliens, if we refuse to even use the term “immigrant” to describe them, how angry do you think those who spent their entire lives in the US are? How long will the memories of those who spent eight years dealing with the American unemployment crisis prove to be? How likely are they to forgive you and the Republican Party for siding with those who spat on us, broke our laws and – in the process – victimized us?
The time has come for the GOP to accept that there is no form of legalization which will ever be acceptable to the Party’s strongest, most loyal voter base. You cannot convince us. Circumstances cannot convince us. And time will not make us forget or forgive what is an abject betrayal of our values and our rights.
Please reconsider your stance on the issue. Please come out and declare yourself an unconditional opponent of any form of legalization. Anything less will lead to long term, lasting damage to the Republican Party.
Imre Beke, Loyal American
Imre Beke is the former host of Right Time Radio on WKNY 1490 AM. Imre is currently the CEO of Heritage American Media, which is about to launch an online radio and video network and operates the Heritage American News Digest news aggregation website.