President Bush delivered a live broadcast from the Oval Office to the nation today about illegal immigration. I think this will not make too many people happy, since it was a very centrist approach. There are pieces that should make liberals and conservatives both happy and pissed. I am moderately impressed with what I heard on the radio, but what I really liked came later when I looked over the posted text: there are 27 uses of the word “illegal” or its derivatives, and no uses of the euphemism “undocumented.” I like it when a politician can call a spade a spade.

Here are some quotes from the President’s address with some of my comments.

First, the United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security. Our objective is straightforward: The border should be open to trade and lawful immigration, and shut to illegal immigrants, as well as criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.

I am glad to see this listed first. I believe that securing our borders should be one of the very first actions taken.

Third, we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees because of the widespread problem of document fraud.

Too many businesses, schools, towns, and state laws and policies prohibit a teacher or an employer from asking for any proof of citizenship.

That middle ground recognizes there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently, and someone who has worked here for many years, and has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record.

If they break the law and are here illegally, they should be punted across the border and not allowed to return. If they are in the U.S. illegally, but have otherwise proven to be law-abiding, then I can see being lenient.

English is also the key to unlocking the opportunity of America. English allows newcomers to go from picking crops to opening a grocery, from cleaning offices to running offices, from a life of low-paying jobs to a diploma, a career, and a home of their own.

This is why the Asian immigrants are able to do so very well here in the U.S. — they are willing to both learn the language and work very hard.

Today is May Day, May 1st, 2006, the traditional day of celebration for Socialists and Communists. I remember watching the news programs on May 1st as I grew up, and seeing Soviet tanks and missiles passing by in large parades in Red Square. I’m sure the choice of May 1st as the day for America’s illegal immigrants to demonstrate is purely coincidental. It probably has nothing to do with one of the major organizers being International ANSWER, a subsidiary organization of the American Communist Workers World Party.

On this May Day, many thousands are or will be marching in cities around the U.S. in what is being called a “Day Without Immigrants.” As one local news reader put it, these people are skipping school and work to flex their financial and political clout. But as I see it, the illegal aliens in this country have no political clout because they are not citizens — and unless you are a Democrat, you don’t want non-citizens to vote. On the same top of the hour newscast, one of the marchers stated she was marching because she didn’t agree with the recent bills proposed by Congress to “criminalize illegal immigrants.” How she could state that with a straight face is beyond me. Being illegal means one has broken existing laws by entering the United States illegally. That is what is known as committing a crime. And committing a crime makes you — all together now, class — a criminal!

One of the organizations that participated in the L.A. rally in March was the Mexica Movement. I find it very interesting that the Mexica Movement decries “European racists” (i.e., everyone in the New World with insufficient native ancestry), but everything they stand for is based on their designation as the “Nican Tlaca” people of “Anahuac.” They say that “We include all Full-bloods and Mixed-bloods as Nican Tlaca.” When you hear people talking about “blood,” rest assured that they are talking about race.

What we have with the Mexica Movement are the angry, racist rantings of people who believe that somehow everything has been taken away from them, and if they could only get control of the entire American continent, they would have all the money and power and everything would be good. The trouble is, by tossing out all the people of European descent (other than those whom they like), they will have largely tossed out the brainpower that made this nation special in the first place. This is not to suggest that all people of native descent are stupid and lazy, but the foundations for what constitutes Americanism were largely put in place by people who came here from somewhere else — including the Founding Fathers. But none of that matters to the Mexica Movement. Failing to understand what America is and what makes it great, they would kill the goose that lays the golden eggs; then would come the infighting over the remnants when they discover that prosperity and productivity had died with the goose. This has happened before. Not long ago, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe decided to seize farmland from the owners and put it under the control of his cronies. What followed was mismanagement and starvation. Expect to see the same thing in the West Bank now that it has been turned over to the Palestinians.

Here is a bit of text from the Mexica Movement’s website. I have preserved the centered formatting, but removed the font and color codes.

THE HISTORY:
First, Europeans criminally invade our continent in 1492.
They occupy our continent and all of its lands for over 500 years.
Over the centuries they kill 95% of our population
(70 to 100 million total killed in the “Western Hemisphere”,
33 million killed in “North America” alone),
using the SMALLPOX weapon of mass destruction
(Smallpox is the ugly big secret of European success in killing off 95% of our people).
All of these CRIMES were very dishonorable, savage, and immoral things to do to us.

RACISM CONTINUES
Without Shame

And now RACISTS tell the 5% of us who have survived this holocaust
that none of our land is ours anymore, and
that all of our continent and all of its wealth of natural resources now belong to Europeans.
They tell us that we should “go back to Mexico”
when most of us of the Mexica Movement were born here,
and we are citizens of the government that rules our lives.
Mexico and “Central America” are also owned and controlled by European descent,
by Europeans are even more Racist White Supremacists there.

Like we said, there are a lot of good white people out there,
but there are also the loud, violent, and low I.Q. Racist White Supremacists
who would easily put us in concentration camps and ovens
if they felt they could get away with it.
Some have already written to us to tell us that they have concentration camps
and hot ovens waiting for us.

Oh, yes, and finally, these same moron Racist White Supremacists
also say that we are not “Indians” (they mean Nican Tlaca, Indigenous),
that we are Spaniards (Europeans).
They know we’re not Spaniards or white (that’s why they call us the “Brown people”)
or anything that is European or else all of this “illegals-borders” issue would not exist!
They say that all the “Indians” were killed and that we’re just Spaniards.
The ignorance and dishonesty of these Racist White Supremacists
is immoral, illogical, untruthful, and an injustice.

Over 30% (over 45 million) of Mexicans and “Central Americans”
are Full-blood Nican Tlaca (Indigenous).
The other 65% (100 to 120 million) or more
are Mixed-Blood, with 3/4 “looking” Nican Tlaca.
The Mixed-bloods are not White.
It is monstrous that they rape our population (mutilate our DNA)
and then they have the monstrous vomit to say that we are not Nican Tlaca
and that even the Full-Bloods of our people are not considered Nican Tlaca
—that we are NOTHING WORTHY OF CONSIDERING AS HUMAN
WITH EQUAL RIGHTS WITH WHITES TO A FULL HUMANITY,
with no rights to our continent or its wealth and no rights to our identity as Nican Tlaca.
How convenient for them: Heads they win, tails we lose.

The majority of African descent people in the U.S. have some European blood,
they speak English (but are not “English”), have British names (but are not “Britanic”),
but all of that rape and cultural corruption
doesn’t deny them the right to call themselves black
or to assert their African heritage.
That same logic goes for our people!
We are not Spanish or Hispanic or Latino!
We are of the Nican Tlaca race!
We are of the Anahuac nation!
We are Mexica in our collective cultural identity!

If you’re still here, congratulations. I apologize for inflicting all that on you, but I think it is necessary that you understand the true nature of some of the people who are demonstrating. These people are not calling for citizenship, as many illegals are. Rather, they demand that the land be cleansed of all Americans of European descent. (How the Mexica Movement can claim it is not racist, when it specifically wants to remove people of European descent from America — and not the multitudes of people of African, East Indian, Chinese, Southeast Asian, and various mixed descents who came from other nations to live in this country — simply defies logical explanation.)

Consider the following real-world situation in my family: one of my nieces has a father who is 100% Navajo, and thus one of the favored indigenous “Nican Tlaca” people. Her mother is visibly of European descent. This little girl visits her father no more than a few days every year, by his own preference; her mother’s family have been her exclusive guardians and caregivers. However, based on the Mexica Movement’s statements, this little girl and her largely-absent father would be able to stay here because they are of the proper race, but her mother and the rest of the family should be booted back to Europe, separating the little girl from the only family she has ever known. Even though the United States extends citizenship to children of illegal immigrants who were born on American soil, the Mexica Movement has no compunction about denying resident status to anyone who was not born “Nican Tlaca.”

Here’s the quandary for supporters of the Mexica Movement — how can you justify who stays and who goes without resorting to race? And since the defining nature of your argument is based on race, does that not make the Mexica Movement, by definition, a racist movement?

The basic Mexica Movement concept of “Yankee go home” is silly at best. If we were to force everyone back to his or her racial homeland, eventually we would all be living in Olduvai Gorge in Africa.

More wisdom from the Mexica Movement website:

QUESTION: When did the problem of illegals start on this continent?

ANSWER: October 12, 1492! Illegal Europeans have been a problem for us for 500 years!

So, what, pray tell, were the laws that Columbus and others violated when they came to the American continent? If “illegal Europeans” have been the problem, then where are the violated laws that make Europeans illegal? (And why, by the way, did you use the evil European calendar date rather than the superior Mesoamerican one?)

What’s next? Italians telling much of Europe and the Middle East that they are reclaiming the lands once controlled by the Roman Empire? What about Iran laying claim to the lands of Greece and Pakistan because of the Persian Empire? That makes about as much sense as claiming the whole of the American continent because your ancestors lived there at some point.

It’s all about race, and about the greedy hands who want what America has become, without having to work for it.

Por la raza todo; fuera de la raza nada.

So as promised, here are my steps for changing the illegal immigration problem. I don’t honestly believe any of these will ever be implemented. It would take more political courage than our elected representatives collectively have. But assuming that I have just become El Presidente por Siempre, then here are the things I would do pretty much in the order I would implement them as a mixture of carrots and sticks to fix the problem.

My first act would make English the official language of the United States, and the language for all legal and governmental action. Immigrants who came to this land, learned English, and blended into our society are the ones who have succeeded in achieving the American dream. People who huddle in non-English speaking enclaves are limiting their potential. Encouraging people to learn English would help unify all Americans under a common language, and that is what the U.S. is all about — E pluribus unum, out of many, one. When I have lived abroad, I did my best to pick up the language there. I didn’t not expect them to know English to make me comfortable. This is a stick because the crutch of having tax forms printed up in Hmong and other obscure languages would be gone.

Next I would start to enforce the illegal immigration laws that are on the books while working on making the borders more secure. I am uncomfortable with people feeling like they can freely enter my home, and the U.S. is my home. Consequently, a good strong fence and active patrolling would significantly cut down on the illegals who just walk over the border, and with too many millions illegally here in the States already, we need to stem the tide. Some people whose writing I enjoy, like Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog have pointed to a similarity between the Berlin Wall and our southern border. But there is a difference between the Berlin Wall and a wall along the U.S. border, just like there is a fundamental difference between the fence around a prison and the fence around your house: the first is to keep people in, while the second is to keep people out. This is another stick.

Since I have brought up Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog, here is the last of his five steps for curing the immigration problem. I agree with this plan:

  1. While I would like to eliminate much of the welfare state altogether, I won’t address that today (Don’t underestimate, though, how damaging the welfare state and the highly regulated economy can be to immigrants, and the problem that can cause, as demonstrated today in France)  For purposes of this plan I will merely state that the non-right right type government services should be divided into two pools:  Services only available to citizens and services available to those who are paying into the system.
    • The first category might include pure handouts, like Welfare, farm subsidies, and public housing.  This category can even include public policy decision like “allowing squatters or vagrancy on public lands”, since this is an effective subsidy as well in the form of public housing.
    • The second include services like public transportation or unemployment insurance — if the individual is paying the fair (for example, the employer is paying her unemployment premiums) then they should have access to the service.  Social Security is a tough beast to classify – I would put it in the “Citizen” category as currently structured, but would gladly put it in the “available to everyone” category if SS could be restructured to better match contributions with benefits, as in a private account system.

The third stick would require work to make it well and widely known, letting illegals who are present and those who are planning to come to America know that the laws and rules are changing. One rule is that anyone caught here in the U.S. illegally would be booted out and never allowed reentry. That means if caught, their chance to ever visit, get a green-card to work, or ever become a citizen is gone, permanently. I would also ask for the Constitution to be amended that would require parents to have entered the U.S. legally for their children to become citizens. This would be a large stick that should reduce those people who sneak into the U.S. so their kids would become citizens. The hope is that those who have a desire to become citizens would voluntarily deport themselves before being caught and permanently barred from ever returning. Part of this plant would be announcing that there would be changes in the legal immigration plans that would make legal immigration easier for people.

Currently, we have a quota for people who can enter the U.S. legally, and it is rather low. Once the quota from a country has been filled, then no more people can enter from that country. After 12 to 18 months of cracking down on illegals, identifying them, and deporting them, the quotas would be increased to allow more people to come in. This is the carrot that has will be held in front of people who want to enter the U.S. legally. Since the current quota is low, people are tempted to cross into the U.S. illegally. Imagine that Disneyland has only a very few tickets that they will sell each day, and once they are sold, no more people can enter the park. Now imagine that to the side is an unguarded way into the park. The difficulty of the proper entrance would make people more inclined to hazard the illegal entry. We need to both block up the illegal entryway as well as increase the number of legal entrants. The U.S. can handle large numbers of immigrants if they are willing to become part of this nation.

I would make one additional change to the quota system: I would allow people to put up a bond for another. The assumption is that the company or person is willing to post a large bond for the entrance of the person. If that person violates the law or fails to qualify for citizenship in set number of years, then the bond is forfeit. Otherwise, the bond is return when the person in question either leaves the country or successfully becomes a citizen. The interest would go to the government as the price of doing the paperwork.

I’m not talking about locking up the millions who are here illegally, but if they are willing to break into the country they have shown that they are willing to break the law in other ways. Not that people want to talk or hear about it.

If you got $1,000 for every apple you ate, would it affect the number of apples you ate in a year? Conversely, if the first bite of an apple might kill you, would you jump at the chance to chomp into a Fuji or Honeycrisp? Normal people will choose more of that which provides a good reward, and avoid that which provides punishment. That’s just basic human nature.

The government knows about this quality of human nature. Tax breaks attract businesses, while heavy tax burdens will drive them away. Some people join the Reserves because the government offers them school benefits for doing so, and the fear of harsh punishment is sufficient to make some people think twice before breaking the law.

I say fear of harsh punishment is sufficient, because wimpy punishments are useless when it comes to deterring crime. The Constitution protects us from “cruel and unusual punishment,” but that phrase meant something different in the 18th century than it does today. In the late 1700s, ‘”cruel and unusual” punishments included being broken on the wheel, or being drawn and quartered. Today, prisoners sue claiming “cruel and unusual punishment” if they don’t get cable TV with premium channels, or if they don’t like the three square meals provided by the prison kitchens.

Legal semantics aside, I believe that a punishment must be both cruel and unusual to be effective. Since I’m not using “cruel and unusual” in the Constitutional sense, let me explain. I’m not suggesting you brand your misbehaving kid with a red-hot poker. When I say a punishment needs to be cruel, I mean it needs to be effective — it must be something that the person would rather not go through. A punishment that doesn’t cause at least minor grief to the person being punished is no punishment at all. Once when my wife was a little hellion [yeah right. --TPK], she was sent to her room as a punishment. Hours later, her mother remembered that she’d sent her child to her room. She was afraid she’d find her little girl sobbing uncontrollably in solitary confinement, but my wife had completely forgotten she was being punished. You see, there were plenty of books in her room to keep her happy and occupied. That wasn’t an effective punishment for her. Likewise, forbidding pickled beets when your kid hates pickled beets anyway is not an effective punishment. They are not effective because they do not make the punished person suffer.

If you have ever heard a teenager whinge, “But that’s not fair!” when his parents lay down the law, you know he is probably receiving a punishment that is at least effective enough to get his attention. Being grounded or losing access to the computer, TV, or video games is a cruel punishment–just ask the teenager who can’t play his Xbox games, or the teenager who has to miss the school dance because she’s grounded. They will give you an earful about how unreasonable their parents are and how cruel the punishment is.

Likewise, a good punishment needs to be unusual. An extra spoonful of pickled beets added to a nightly serving is far from unusual, and being perpetually grounded for every infraction just becomes the status quo after a while. But if a kid is used to playing his Xbox for hours after school, removing it as a punishment is effective precisely because the punishment is a shock.

An effective punishment is meant both to remind the punished person that he or she has done something wrong, and to provide a strong incentive not to do it again. But not all punishments handed down in the U.S. are this effective. Judge Edward Cashman of Vermont sentenced Mark Hulett to a 60-day sentence for the crime of raping a 7-year-old girl over a four-year period. His punishment is far from cruel and does not serve as a deterrent to him or others. Sadly, this type of lenient sentence is far from atypical. Too often, minor offenders are given a slap on the wrist, a finger shaken in their face, and are released back into society to repeat their crimes until they hit the age of 18 and get the book thrown at them.

Author Robert Heinlein compared our justice system to raising puppies. The following quote comes from chapter 8 of Starship Troopers, as the protagonist is asked a question by his History and Moral Philosophy teacher, Mr. Dubois, in high school. Punctuation and emphasis are the author’s.

“Suppose you merely scolded your puppy, never punished him, let him go on making messes in the house . . . and occasionally locked him up in an outbuilding but soon let him back into the house with a warning not to do it again. Then one day you notice that he is now a grown dog and still not housebroken — whereupon you whip out your gun and shoot him dead. Comment, please?”

“Why . . . that’s the craziest way to raise a dog I ever heard of!”

“I agree. Or a child. Whose fault would it be?”

“Uh . . . why, mine, I guess.”

“Again I agree. But I’m not guessing.”

So for a punishment to be effective, it needs to be both uncomfortable and unusual. And an effective punishment should provide a strong deterrent against the unwanted action. If you don’t want to encourage people to change their ways, why even bother to punish them? OK, so 800+ words later, let me get back to the original premise — you get more of that which you reward, and less of that which you punish.

With that firmly in mind, let’s visit the current debate about illegal aliens in the U.S. In the past 20 years, there have been seven amnesties allowing for about 5.7 million illegal aliens to stay in the States. So that solved all our illegal immigrant issues, right? Hah! So what did the amnesties do? They rewarded the people who had broken laws to get here. And as we all know, when you reward a behavior, you get more of it. It’s no wonder that there are some 11+ million illegal aliens in the U.S., when they have seen persistence in lawbreaking rewarded by amnesty.

So how can we stop the flow of illegals into the U.S.? Well, we could shoot every illegal we find crossing our border. With such a draconian assault, the flow of illegal border crossings would dry up quickly. But such a tactic is morally reprehensible, regardless of its effectiveness, and Americans would not stand for it. Then how can we provide a disincentive which is both morally acceptable and effective in keeping people from entering the country illegally? I have several ideas, none of which involve maintaining the status quo, providing blanket amnesty, or becoming a police state demanding, “Your papers, please” to everyone in a fake German accent.

I’ll type up these ideas shortly, and update this post when they are done. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (4/3/2006 10:55:42 PM): It took longer than I thought as things interrupted me, but I have typed up the promised steps here.

More people are talking about the illegal immigration problem. I like being able to simplify things. So here’s my question:

Do you lock the door to your house, and if not, would you mind if anyone off the street just walked right in?

I feel pretty safe to guess that the vast majority of people would be very uncomfortable finding some stranger camping out in their living room. A liberal radio host was saying we need to allow those people who have been here in the U.S. so long to have a method to become legal residents. My response is pretty simple: at what point does the stranger camping in your living room become a part of the household, or is he forever going to be persona non grata?

Los Angeles saw 500,000 people march down its streets chanting “Sí, se puede,” “Mexico!,” and “USA!” What was the big draw? Here’s the first paragraph of the AP story that explains why they gathered:

Immigration rights advocates more than 500,000 strong marched in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, demanding that Congress abandon attempts to make illegal immigration a felony and to build more walls along the border.

There’s a problem with that paragraph — it is missing a word: ILLEGAL. As in “Illegal immigration rights advocates…” I support the idea of making illegal immigration a felony, and were I the one to make the rules, I would make violators ineligible for later entry to the U.S., even if they try legally. I have written about illegal immigration multiple times, and it is one of the few subjects where I disagree with President Bush.

I spent the last week away from home, and since internet access was very limited, I decided to take a short break from publishing anything. But as I was driving over 2,000 miles in a week, I had some time to think about some subjects. Writing down thoughts as you are driving is a bad idea.

While I was away, I was happy to know that my friend Podkayne was stopping by to get some rest on her own long journey. I knew no one else would be at the house, so I made sure she had a key to the place. She was a welcome guest in my home, and I could trust her not to run off with the good silver. Better than that, she even did some dishes for me! Thanks, Podkayne!

I hope you have family and friends whom you trust enough to use your guest bed if they need it, whether you are there to watch over them or not. But how would you feel if a non-invited person were to enter your home, sleep in your bed, and eat up your food? Whether this unwanted person used a key to unlock the front door, entered through an open window, or used a brick to smash open a lock, there is a name for someone who enters your home uninvited: intruder!

Our nation is our home, and we should be just as concerned about people crossing our borders as we would be about people entering our home at will during the day or night. This is why I’m upset to see how President Bush is failing to fix the issue of illegal aliens in the United States. President Vincente Fox of Mexico made a statement recently that Mexicans (read that as illegal aliens) do work that not even Blacks would do. While this is an offensive statement to Blacks, it also shows Fox’s belief that it is both just and right for his countrymen to break laws to cross illegally into the U.S. And it’s no wonder — the wages that move from the U.S. to Mexico are the second largest money-making industry for Mexico. Fox isn’t going to cut off his national gravy train by stopping Mexicans from crossing into the U.S. Yet it is interesting that the Mexican government is not so lax on its own southern border.

Mexico is not a country starved of resources or filled with lazy people. In the two years I lived in Mexico, I saw hard-working people, but they were prevented from doing as much as they could because of government corruption. When a country offers freedom and protection of people’s rights and property, economic success will follow. Can you point out any country where this is not the case?

Don’t expect to see much from the U.S. government to stem the flood of illegal aliens crossing into the U.S. There is a perception that doing anything against illegal aliens will be seen as an attack on Hispanics who already live in the U.S., but if I were someone from Mexico who had entered legally into the States, I’d be both ashamed of how other Mexicans are illegally crossing into the country and angry that their illegal actions are reflecting negatively on myself. Why is it that the legal immigrants are not policing out the illegals who are crossing into the States?

Could it be that this isn’t happening because the legal immigrants are not identifying themselves as Americans first? There is a very simple reason why Mexicans — or any other group, for that matter — don’t feel like they fit into the larger society, and it isn’t because of skin color. It is language.

English is the common language here in the United States, but it is possible to enter enclaves where Spanish is the only language spoken. In a situation like that, you could spend your whole life never needing to learn English, but there is a limitation to living that way — you are stuck in that enclave. Leaving the enclave requires learning a new language, and choosing not to learn English means you are limited to certain jobs, certain places to live and shop, and certain opportunities you can provide your children. Do you really want to place limitations on your children? You will, if you never learn to speak English.

Before I visited Singapore for the second time, I spent several months studying spoken and written Chinese. I never got very good at it, and I realized that it didn’t help me all that much since I was practicing Mandarin, and all the friends I met in Singapore spoke either Cantonese or Hokkien at home. Also, the traditional characters I learned to read and write were different from the simplified Chinese used in Singapore. This island nation has four official languages: Chinese, Malay, English, and Tamil. It was fun watching the same commercial on TV done in four different languages. Because Singapore is as polyglot as it is, I didn’t feel as bad that I didn’t learn the right version of spoken Chinese, but at least I made the attempt.

I lived in Germany for three years. We could have lived on the military base with the rest of the Americans, but we preferred to live in a small town away from the base. Frau Roch spoke excellent English, having lived in the States for several years. Our landlord had a working English vocabulary of about 400-500 words, and it is amazing how much information you can communicate with that many words. Frau Fuchs didn’t speak a word of English, but over time we were able to talk with her in halting sentences. Frau Roch confessed that even she had a hard time talking to Frau Fuchs because of her old-fashioned accent. While I never became perfectly fluent in German, I got good enough to travel about, and I didn’t have problems buying items in the stores. People even stopped me to ask for directions, and assuming I knew where the place was, I was happy to direct them. My main limitation to learning better German came from spending most of my time in my own English-speaking enclave. High school was all in English, my family and friends all spoke English with each other, and my job was in English. But notwithstanding all that, I made a good attempt at learning the language of the land.

I spent only two years in Mexico, but my Spanish became much better than my German ever did, even with the extra year living in Germany. Since I didn’t live in a little English-speaking enclave, I had to learn Spanish as fast as I could just to be understood. It took much study and practice, but I became very fluent in Spanish. I remember visiting a cement tile factory and talking with the head craftsman there. He thought that I, with my blond hair, was a native-speaking albino rather than an American gringo. I knew I was really speaking Spanish well when the people stopped noting how good my Spanish was and just talked with me. At one point I was so immersed in Spanish that speaking English became very difficult. I had to really think hard to speak in English with the occasional Americans I encountered, or I would just lapse back into Spanish.

If I had to depend on people speaking English to me while I lived in Mexico, I couldn’t have traveled through the northern states as I did. I would have been stuck at home with books and whatever English TV or radio I could find. My opportunities would have been very limited, and I probably would have been frustrated to tears being stuck in my little area. It was very hard work for me to learn Spanish, but the effort was well worth the time and the struggle. And since I was the minority in the country, it was up to me to learn the people’s language.

I don’t care where you emigrated from; now that you are here in the United States, the first thing you should do is learn English. It’s the best thing you can do for your own future and for the future of your children.

I have written about illegal immigration in the past, but the time has come to revisit the subject. Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge said before a town meeting in Florida, “The bottom line is, as a country we have to come to grips with the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal status some way, but also as a country decide what our immigration policy is and then enforce it.” I agree 100% with his last part. We do need to decide what our immigration policy is and enforce it. Currently, the federal government and many states turn a blind eye to the problem of illegal aliens. In my mother-in-law’s school, there are many families that she is certain are in this country illegally, but she is prohibited from asking them for proof of citizenship or immigration papers. This is a kind of stupidity only the government could create: make a show of guarding our borders from aliens, but ignore them when they get inside.

This new proposal on immigration by President Bush is based in legislation already drafted by three Arizona Republicans : Rep. Jim Kolbe, Rep. Jeff Flake, and Sen. John McCain. The first part of this legislation would make it easier for businesses to bring in an unspecified number of aliens for low-wage jobs, and the second part would allow illegal aliens and their extended families who are already hiding in the U.S. to remain here legally. The administration claims this isn’t an amnesty plan because the illegal aliens would need to wait for some time and pay a fee before obtaining legal permission to stay, but if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and shouts “AFLAC!” like a duck, then it’s a duck, President Bush. And this is an amnesty program, regardless of what political verbiage is used.

What would happen if you announced to the community at large that the Krispy Kreme donut shop would be giving away boxes of donuts to everyone who drops by before midnight? Before the announced deadline, people would be rushing through the doors to get their hands on the free food. This is human nature. Now that the administration has announced a general “Ollie Ollie oxen free!” for illegals, what do you think has happened to the rate of illegals pouring across our borders? If you said the rate has gone up since the announcement, give yourself a gold star on the forehead. And if you think that we have lots of people pouring across our borders now, just wait until the legislation passes and the cutoff time for free entry draws close. Our borders will show just how porous they really are. And here’s the big worry: mixed in with the floods of decent people looking for a new and better life for themselves and their families, how many evil-minded terrorists will also pass through our borders? In a time when our nation’s safety is considered so important that a new cabinet-level post was created – the Secretary of Homeland Security – why is the administration proposing a plan that will raise the illegal immigrant rate in the same manner as actress Charlize Theron raised her weight for the movie Monster, by binging on Krispy Kreme donuts?

I am strongly against illegal immigration and the government’s approval of it, but I am very much in favor of legal immigration. Now before you get your undies in a bunch, let me clarify that I am not a racist. I do not care what country you come from, your age, race, sex, or ethnic background. I do care if you will be a honest and law-abiding visitor or aspiring citizen-to-be. As long as you enter the country legally, then I welcome you with open arms. If you cannot be an honest and law-abiding visitor, then I don’t want you even to think of heading toward the U.S. If you enter illegally, then I want the screen door to hit you on the butt hard as you leave this nation.

And don’t ever come back.