On Thursday, three illegal migrants were in a Florida hospital, one in critical condition, after a raft carrying some 30 people capsized off the coast of Florida. Sixteen people were rescued, and the rest are presumed dead. The United States Coast Guard has also conducted a search for other survivors over 2,500 square miles of ocean, which was still ongoing and expanding as of this writing. Autopsies of the recovered bodies were to be conducted.
The United States already allows in a generous number of immigrants and temporary workers each year, and the laws are not racist. In a typical year, we grant more than 1 million green cards per year, 84% of those to non-white persons. We typically issue more than 500,000 work visas per year. We are experiencing a deep recession with nearly five unemployed Americans for every one job opening. But as the raft tragedy shows, people still are coming here illegally. While border crossings are down, still there were some 264,000 apprehensions just inside the border between October 2008 and March 2009.
Strict enforcement of our immigration laws is the way to prevent such tragedies because there are no jobs here for the people on the raft, and helping them in Haiti is more cost-effective and leads to the long-term solution of a Haiti that creates jobs for its people. Strict enforcement of the law, both on our borders and in the interior of our country, should deter attempts at illegal entry and minimize the number of incidents. This means sending the survivors of the raft tragedy back. It is actually the more humane thing to do. If we let them stay, word will get back to Haiti, and it will induce more dangerous attempts.
The illegal migrants were characterized by the Associated Press as “mainly Haitian immigrants fleeing their country's crushing poverty.” The article continued that “Four tropical storms and hurricanes battered the Western Hemisphere's poorest country during last year's harvest season, killing 793 people, crippling agriculture and causing $1 billion in damage to irrigation, bridges and roads.”
There will be, no doubt, a vocal group of people who want these survivors to be granted legal status in the United States on humanitarian grounds. They see a group of needy people and want to open our doors to them. But what about them, and them, and them, and them, and them, and them, and them, and them, and them, and them … 100 million times over. That is no joke because more than three billion people in the world world live on less than $2.50 per day. If you allow this group of 30 to stay, you are sending the message to 100 million other rafts that if you can get here, you can stay, for a total of three billion people.
A newly-minted U.S. citizen, originally from Nigeria, was interviewed by National Public Radio just after taking her oath of citizenship and said, "Everybody in the world -- I don't know if you know this -- wants to come to the United States of America. All you need to do is go to the embassy, any embassy, and see long, long lines of people who want to come here."
At a book signing, I briefly spoke with Paul Krugman, the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics. I asked him about a similar scenario and his response was, "if you look at the level of desperation." And that’s all he had to say. As if that is a viable policy when you have more than three billion desperate people in the world.
There are no jobs for the people on that raft. The United States has an 8.9%, and rising, unemployment rate. The people on that raft are typically unskilled, and if they do have skills, those skills are also held by plenty of legal residents and citizens of the United States who need jobs, too. I seriously doubt that any of the people on that raft are going to start businesses in the United States soon enough to get us out of this recession. The only thing they can possibly do is take somebody’s job because they will work cheaper. Yet, they are still coming.
The situation in Haiti is heartbreaking. But the United Nations already has troops stationed in Haiti to help keep the peace, and in April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally delivered $300 million in aid. If more aid is needed, the United States should supply it. We should also help them build the institutions they need to have an economy that will provide jobs and sustenance to their population. It is much cheaper to help people in their own country where individuals can be supported for pennies a day, just as Sallie Struthers used to remind us in those late night television commercials. But I stress that the goal should not be to support them; it should be to help them develop their economy so they can support themselves. Probably the only way the problems of Haiti are ever going to be solved is if we provide backstop support so that the Haitian people can solve them themselves.
Sadly, the millions of dollars that the United States spent on the search, rescue, hospital stays, and autopsies associated with the raft tragedy can no longer go to help Haitians in Haiti, or pay down the U.S. federal deficit of $1.8 trillion, or pay for the college educations of 10 or more U.S. residents. We now live in an age of constraints. We don’t have the jobs for them, we don’t really have the money, but they need help. Maybe George Soros could spend some of his billions on helping solve the real problem instead of pushing an amnesty that will harm the United States by eroding the rule of law.
To prevent the loss of life that occurs when people try to sneak into the United States, we need strict enforcement of our immigration laws both at the border and in the interior of our country so that people be deterred from the attempt. Strict enforcement is what will save their lives and preserve our jobs at decent wages. It is the most humane policy for them and for us.
Go to your Action Buffet and fax President Obama asking for strict enforcement of our immigration laws....
Updated: Sat, May 16th 2009 @ 12:05pm EDT