By Rod Miller
"Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it," an old saying goes. As Congress prepares to debate the long festering crisis of immigration, and a coalition of Democrats and big business Republicans takes shape to force through Bush's amnesty plan, it might behoove the former to carefully consider that saying. The long term implications of open borders for Democratic party fortunes and progressive public policy may not be the panacea assumed.
For a generation, the political left in America has joined hands with the laissez faire wing of the Republican party to maintain a status quo of de facto open borders. Although there are a presently panoply of federal laws on the books to deter illegal immigration, as anyone living in the Southeast Tennessee/Northwest Georgia region can see every day, a conscious decision has been made by the powers-that-be not to enforce these laws. We have feckless deterrence from the overtaxed Border Patrol at our frontier with Mexico and virtually no interior enforcement such as imposing penalties and fines on the thousands of businesses employing illegal aliens, often "under the table." Despite some smoke and mirrors after 9/11, the ruling elite in D.C. of both parties continue to ignore the huge majority of Americans (even of Hispanic Americans), who want our borders controlled and illegal aliens deported.
The American left, notably the trifecta of Democrat politicians in D.C., the "old" media, and academia, back immigration because they view it as the unrelenting tap feeding multiculturalism. A balkanized, ever-more diverse America, they have heretofore believed, favors the left politically. When DNC chairman Howard Dean calls the GOP a "white, Christian party" he not-so-subtly exposes a central, if thus far unsuccessful, tenet of Democratic election strategy over recent decades- pander to a growing number of dependent, minority constituencies that traditionally vote Democrat as gradually their numbers overwhelm traditional GOP constituencies. It's why books like "The Emerging Democratic Majority" have gleefully predicted Republican demise corresponding with the immigration-fed demographic decline of Anglo-Saxons.
But as college football pundit Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend!" It turns out Bush received 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, continuing a steady uptick over recent years. Hispanics tend to be culturally conservative and religious, for example opposing abortion and gay "marriage," and supporting the GOP on taxes, gun rights, and defense issues. States like Texas and Arizona have huge and growing Hispanic minorities but remain as solidly Republican as ever, if not more so. And Florida just elected a very conservative Hispanic Republican U.S. Senator, Mel Martinez. In many ways, Hispanics seem a comfortable fit in the cowboy boot wearing, pickup truck culture popularized by Bush's persona and more prevalent in the "red states."
But far more troubling for the Democrats than the increasingly apparent political miscalculation is that mass immigration hurts almost every liberal cause imaginable. Overcrowded public schools which are forced to cater to ESOL students are so over taxed they can no longer serve the traditional role as an "equalizer" --giving kids of all socio-economic backgrounds a shot at a good education and thus success in life. Hospitals are burdened with free care for illegal aliens including birthing children (who automatically become U.S. citizens), further undermining the already slim prospects for single-payer, universal health care. An unlimited supply of unskilled workers willing to work at very low wages cripples unions and literally crowds or cuts off the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. And last but not least, virtually all U.S. population growth is now attributable to recent immigrants and their comparatively high rate of child-bearing. It is a fact that within the lifetime of children born now, U.S. population is projected to double. No matter what zoning, slow- or smart- growth, or other policies are implemented, that kind of population growth will inevitably result in environmental degradation on a mass scale. Americans of all backgrounds are the world's most voracious consumers, proportionally taxing the environment at a far greater rate than inhabitants of the third-world countries from with the millions of migrants come. From vehicle emissions to irreparable loss of open space, every issue environmentalists care about will be crushed by population growth the U.S. Census is already predicting. The environmental movement, long a Democrat bastion, should be shuddering at the environmental impact that America's open borders policies portend.
Name almost any goal of progressives or liberals, and it can never be achieved under the status quo of open borders and unlimited population growth. And given that the electoral strategy of pandering to ethnic groups has been such a colossal failure, Democrats may want to rethink their long-standing support for de facto open borders. It is long past time the left take notice and be wary of the far-reaching consequences of unlimited immigration.
-- Rod Miller is an attorney in Cleveland, Tennessee.