‘ILLEGAL ALIEN:’ Tell it like it is

IllegalImmigrationbrief-8-2014

Read FAIR’s new issue brief here or scroll down.

Under federal law, any non-U.S. citizen is an alien. Aliens who have entered the United States without permission, or who have violated the terms of their admission, are identified under the law as illegal aliens. That is a fact, not an issue for debate.

It is also a fact that, according to U.S. law, it is a crime to enter the United States without permission. This first time offense is a misdemeanor, the second time, a felony.

Despite the clarity in the U.S. code on proper terminology, what is known in legal parlance as the “term of art,” a political movement has arisen whose object is to substitute euphemism for precision. A variety of motivations underlie this effort, but regardless of intent, the goal is the same. Those who object to the use of the term “illegal alien” appear to believe that if they can convince the American public that illegal immigration is not really illegal, then amnesty no longer is amnesty, and enforcing immigration law is unnecessary.

The Case Against

There are a few principal arguments made against the use of illegal alien.  They are simplistic, and easily refutable.  The first is that no human being is illegal. To identify someone as an illegal alien does not banish that person from the human race; it simply identifies an individual who does not have the legal right to reside in the United States.

Another oft-employed argument is to claim that illegal aliens just lack the proper “papers,” and so they are not really illegal but instead “undocumented.” The implication is that those with documents were lucky enough to have somehow come into possession of a visa or a “green card,” and not that an alien who received these documents submitted to a complex process that complies with the requirements of entry into the United States. The “undocumented” term is also patently misleading because illegal aliens as a group are certainly not lacking identification documents, only legitimate, legally obtained ones. Often an illegal alien will purchase or manufacture false or stolen documents and, according to Ronald Mortensen of the Center for Immigration Studies, as many as 75% of illegal aliens in the workforce are using fraudulent Social Security cards.

Why All the Fuss?

The wrangling over the term illegal alien goes beyond whether particular words are proper to use.  Underlying the “newspeak” by defenders of illegal aliens is the question of whether the United States will remain a sovereign, independent nation, governed by the rule of law and subject to constitutional constraints. U.S. immigration laws were enacted by Congress.

The Executive Branch has the responsibility to enforce them, not to implement them as the President sees fit.  Those who deny that immigration laws are binding are declaring that there should be inequality under the law, where some groups are not only immune from compliance but should benefit from their offense.

Under attack is the very foundation of this republic as a nation established on the principle of respect for the law, as is the right to self-determination of the American people.  A fundamental principle of sovereignty is that the people of any country have the absolute right to defend their borders and to admit or deny admittance to others according to their discretion and laws. It is not extremist, racist, or anti-immigrant for Americans to expect their national borders to be secure and that those who violate immigration laws are held accountable.

Why Illegal Aliens from Nicaragua Aren’t Flocking to the U.S.

Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 4.35.34 PMThe effort to disregard the plain facts surrounding the recent surge in illegal immigration has taken a new twist. Instead of acknowledging the real reasons about why they are coming, open-border advocates are claiming that these aliens are refugees fleeing imminent danger and are not, as the aliens freely admit, coming because they know President Obama has no intention of sending them back home. The latest attempt to bolster the argument that economics has nothing to do with the increasing numbers of illegal aliens from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador is that because Nicaragua, too, is a poor country, but with relatively lower levels of violence, the absence of a proportionate surge in Nicaraguans illegal border crossers proves that the others are refugees.

The response to that claim is straightforward. Since Nicaragua has been a more stable and less violent country than Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador over the past two decades, there is less of an incentive for Nicaraguans to come to the United States illegally – and fewer have come over the last two decades.  According to DHS statistics, the country that sends the most illegal aliens to the United States is Mexico. No surprise there. Also no surprise is that the number two, three, and four sending countries are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Nicaragua is not even in the top ten, which would put the number of illegal aliens in the United States who are from Nicaragua at a fraction of its Central American neighbors. (The reason there has not been a surge in Mexicans is because the Border Patrol immediately sends apprehended Mexican nationals back to Mexico.)

Because there have been fewer Nicaraguans coming illegally to the United States in recent years, and because most illegal aliens are now coming to be reunited with family members already living illegally in the United States, there are proportionately fewer Nicaraguans as part of the current surge. But if the President and Congress don’t send the recent illegal aliens home you can bet we’ll start to see more Nicaraguans making the trek north in the near future.

July Job Numbers

jobsThe working-age population increased from June to July ’14 by 209,000. The unemployment rate went up in July to 6.2% from 6.1%. The number of unemployed increased by 197,000 while the number of employed increased by 131,000. The participation rate ticked up, also by 0.1%, to 62.9%, but it is still lower by 0.5% than it was last July. The number of people not in the workforce decreased by 119,000. These numbers indicate that more people were looking for work. These numbers also indicate that given population growth, the number of new workers adding to the labor market was 78,000. The total number of unemployed is 9.7 million, and those not in the labor force remained virtually unchanged at 92 million.

Argument that Violence Driving Surge in Illegal Immigration Unconvincing

According to internal memos and news reports, the main driver of illegal immigration continues to be economic motivations.  The recent surge in illegal immigration, including the increase in illegal alien minors, by the admissions of the aliens themselves, is the result of Obama Administration policies, and the continuing promises of amnesty from leaders of both parties in Congress, which has been noted by media outlets in Central America.

Increased violence, notably a rise in homicides in the sending countries, has been touted as the cause of the unprecedented influx of illegal aliens across the U.S. southern border.  However, data from the United Nations shows that homicide rates in El Salvador and Guatemala are at a much lower level than in past years, and the homicide rate in Honduras is beginning to abate after a sharp rise that took place between 2006 and 2011. If murderous violence were the primary motivating factor spurring illegal immigration from these countries, the influx would have occurred much earlier. In contrast, Mexico, which has seen a sharp rise in its homicide rate in recent years, has sent many fewer illegal immigrants into the U.S. since 2009.

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Aprehensions of Unaccompanied Alien Minors in U.S.

The United Nations data do not go beyond 2012, but there are no indications that that the conditions in Central American have changed to such an extent to account for the massive surge in illegal border crossers. In fact, a brief prepared by the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), created by the federal government to focus on U.S.-Mexico border issues, found that “violence is not likely the principal factor driving the increase in UAC migration.” Relying on information from the U.S. Border Patrol, EPIC stated that:

Of the 230 total migrants interviewed, 219 [95%] cited the primary reason for migrating to
the United States was the perception of U.S. immigration laws granting free passes or permisosa
to UAC and adult female OTMs [Other Than Mexican] traveling with minors.

EPIC also found that:

…a large number of migrants interviewed claimed family members in the United States encouraged
their travel because the U.S. government would cease issuing permisos after June 2014. Migrants
cited Univision, Primer Impacto, Al Rojo Vivo and several Honduran television news outlets for
helping shape their perception of U.S. immigration policy.

Honduras, which by far has the highest murder rate among Central American countries, as well as the highest in the world, has seen its murder rate decrease prior to the surge of illegal aliens from that country into the United States. Official statistics from the Honduran government, which records homicides up until June 2014, reveal that the murder rate in Honduras has dropped, yet apprehensions recorded by the U.S. Border Patrol of illegal alien minors from Honduras have greatly increased.

Data from July 2014 to Dec 2014 projected based on Jan 2014 to Jun 2014 statistics.

As FAIR pointed out last week, most of the information about the illegal aliens comes from the aliens themselves. What we do know is that many who are coming are not children, are not unaccompanied, are not trafficked, and are not coming because they are fleeing a sudden increase in violence in their home countries.*

* In testimony to the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee,  none of the three witnesses who claimed that violence was driving the surge in illegal immigration could point to a single precipitating violent event in Central America that could explain the sudden spike in number of illegal aliens from that region.

American Kids are People Too

kidsThe White House and the much of the media have talked endlessly about “the kids” who are pouring over our borders. No doubt there has been a tremendous surge in the number of children crossing illegally into the United States, lured by the Obama administration’s lack of border and interior enforcement, DACA, and the perpetual promise of future amnesties. But many, and by reliable accounts, most who are now coming illegally are not children, and that detail has been virtually ignored in the conversations about what must be done to secure the border and repatriate those illegally in the United States. So, too, is the fact that the information about the age (average age of fourteen), country of origin, and intent of the unaccompanied minors comes from the aliens themselves.

The “humanitarian crisis” is man-made, and it is not just the fault of President Obama. The entire Democratic and Republican leadership share responsibility for what is occurring, and for failing to take immediate steps to remedy the situation. It is clear that the President is intent on politicizing the ongoing immigration crisis in order to use it against Republicans in the mid-term elections. This is a grave miscalculation by the White House, as signaled by comments made by Steny Hoyer and other top Democrats, who have spoken out against the President’s failure to act in the national interest.

On the other side of the aisle, the Republican leadership has been backed into a corner and can no longer ignore the concerns of the American public. They are still reeling from the Eric Cantor primary loss and are trying to avoid the defection of their base over immigration. House Speaker Boehner has said that he might add the executive amnesties to the lawsuit he is preparing against the President, though Boehner has done nothing the past six years to ensure that the border was secure and our immigration laws were being enforced.

While the Obama Administration is trying to manage the unfolding public relations crisis, top Republicans in Congress are still trying to find a way to pass amnesty and massive increases in the admission of immigrants and guest workers to placate their corporate financiers. Their recent tough talk is a welcome change, but they need to do more than hold a blustery press conference to effect change.

The non-stop hand wringing over “the kids” is being used to deflect attention away from the larger problem of mass illegal immigration that resumed in 2009 after a short downtick following the 2007 recession. Americans don’t oppose treating illegal alien children humanely, or adult illegal aliens for that matter. But assuring the safety and welfare of illegal aliens before they are sent back to their home countries does not equate with failing to protect the safety and welfare of the American people by turning federal agents into traffickers who transport illegal aliens to the interior of the country –where they most likely will remain permanently. The actions (and inaction) of the Obama administration on immigration policy for the past five and half years have been reprehensible, and the response (or lack thereof) by top Republicans has been indefensible.

There are about 70 million native-born children in the United States. Their future hangs in the balance here, yet the President of the United States is unconcerned about “doing right by them.”

As Senator Jeff Sessions so poignantly asked: “When did we forget that a nation owes its first allegiance to her own citizens?”