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Congress searching for a painless problem solver

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Column by Jim Flynn

For 20 years, Congress and the White House have pretended they were doing something about the mass migration of unidentified immigrants crossing our southern border. Quite the contrary. Washington was deliberately doing nothing.

President Reagan tried to resolve the immigration problem in 1986 by granting amnesty to almost three million undocumented workers. Unfortunately, Congress deleted from the amnesty bill a provision to impose tougher penalties on employers who continue to hire illegal immigrants. And the part of the deal which guaranteed better border security was just ignored.

Immigration accelerated after President Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. NAFTA was a success for U.S. companies whose factories and jobs went south.

At the same time, thousands of unskilled Hispanics were moving north to escape persistent poverty, crime, and corruption in Mexico. Half of Mexico’s population is living in poverty. Unemployment bobbles between 25 and 40 percent. And crime is an every-day wild-west show, produced and directed by drug cartels, which help our trade imbalance by buying thousands of weapons from U.S. companies.

Washington says it spends around $41 billion annually paying for lodging, lunches, and bus fares back home for the directionally challenged who wander into federal custody. A significant number of the wanderers must be getting round-trip tickets, because many find their way back into the U.S. muy pronto.

No one knows how many undocumented immigrants are in the United States. A few years ago Washington was guesstimating twelve million. Now they’re guesstimating eleven million, probably based on the comparative numbers of footprints pointed south and north along the banks of the Rio Grande River. Counting is not an exact science in Washington.

Government guesstimators say seven and a half million anonymous immigrants are employed in the U.S., which means the other three and a half million are attending school, visiting the doctor, and keeping house. Increased costs for education, health care, and law enforcement have become a huge burden on the states.

Because of Congressional and White House dereliction of duty, 22 states have adopted or are considering legislation intended to deal with the problems generated by undocumented immigrants. The proposals are awkward, strongly opposed by immigrant rights groups, and most likely unconstitutional.

What significant changes to immigration policy can U.S. voters expect from Washington between now and the 2012 federal election? Both parties would like a painless way to make the problem just disappear. Neither party wants to alienate Hispanic voters or campaign contributors.

In preparation for their 2012 campaigns for re-election, Congress people are staging a show of interest by filing 37 immigration bills. Even if all the proposed legislation were passed, it would accomplish nothing permanent so long as Washington continues its politically motivated open-borders policy.

The Great Recession has already caused a significant decrease in the number of undocumented immigrants, assuming the footprint counts are accurate. We’re partial to doing nothing more than finishing the fence along our southern border, and then wait to see what the Great Recession accomplishes over the next five years. Anything more is like granting our politicians a pardon for their dereliction of duty. They should be left to suffer in gridlock!