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Paul Hayden

The Corrosive Effects of Illegal Immigration

March 15, 2010

Most Americans realize that our federal government’s deliberate refusal to control the influx of illegal aliens, primarily from Mexico, has had a deleterious effect on our nation’s economy. Scores of California hospitals have had to close their doors because of a tsunami of illegals seeking “free” health care — and receiving it.

Schools across the country are being forced to deal with the children of those here illegally, with many states now fighting over whether to offer these children in-state tuition to attend state colleges and universities.

Two of the largest business associations in the country are at odds over this issue. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which sees cheap, illegal labor as a boon for big business, favors a program that keeps our southern border open. But the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small business owners, says its members frequently see illegals as competition with legitimate enterprise.

We even see sharp divisions in our politics over this issue, as challengers such as former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth take on former Republican presidential candidate John McCain in that state’s primary election this year for the GOP nomination for McCain’s Senate seat.

But these are only the most obvious consequences of a misguided policy that has overburdened the most prosperous society on earth, and now the corrosive effects of not enforcing our immigration laws is taking a toll on our body politic at a whole new level.

In my home state of Nebraska, Republican Gov. Dave Heineman currently enjoys sky-high approval ratings from constituents, thanks in large part to his stubborn resistance to tax increases, his principled opposition to Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback,” and his veto of a bill that would have provided in-state college tuition for the children of illegals — a stand that helped him beat back a 2006 primary challenge from former congressman and Nebraska football deity Tom Osborne. Now Heineman has taken another courageous position on behalf of taxpayers by threatening to veto a bill in the Legislature that would provide state-funded prenatal care for illegal immigrants.

Unfortunately, Nebraska’s Catholic Bishops have come out in favor of the legislation, thereby causing a powerful, Catholic-dominated pro-life group, Nebraska Right-to-Life, to issue an ultimatum: candidates opposing the bill will not receive their endorsement in the upcoming fall election campaign.

“We want to assure that innocent, unborn children will receive prenatal services,” says Brenda Eller, president of the group. The group’s board voted unanimously to support the bill. “This is the right thing to do from a pro-life position, regardless of the immigration status,” Eller declares.

But Gov. Heineman is standing firm. “After a careful and thoughtful review of the various aspects of this issue, we are opposed to illegal immigrants receiving taxpayer-funded benefits,” the governor said in a letter read at a public hearing on the prenatal care plan. This once again stands him in good stead with Nebraskans.

“The idea that society is responsible for people who are breaking the law is completely ridiculous and completely false,” says Dimitri Krynsky, who emigrated legally from Czechoslovakia thirty years ago. “What the state should do is make sure these people do not find work here, do not find apartments here,” he says. “Nebraska should create an environment that will send them home.”

Krynsky speaks for the overwhelming majority of Nebraskans, including the many legal immigrants who resent the fact that illegals are being granted all the rights of citizenship without having complied with the law. Since immigration is a federal issue, and it has become obvious that bureaucrats at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have no intention of enforcing the law, state officials have two choices. They can capitulate to the pro-illegal cause or defend the law. Gov. Heineman is one leader who has chosen to do the latter.

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Copyright ©2010 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.