California should pursue a fair but consistent and effective immigration policy by ensuring economic opportunities for legal immigrants, securing our borders, and enforcing our immigration laws.
Bill Jones on Illegal Immigration
October 7, 2004
Today, there are upwards of 15 million undocumented persons living in this country. California alone is estimated to be the home of 3 to 5 million. In a typical year, another 1-2 million people make it past the border into the US.
The waves of illegal immigrants now bring with them increasing numbers of gang members, criminals, drug traffickers, and terrorist group members. Our broken border and immigration policies have facilitated the creation of an extensive network of Coyotes, smugglers, fake ID industries, and assorted operations that prey off this human traffic. This same network now also serves as an unchecked conduit for those who come to harm our nation, our communities, and our families.
The tremendous problems associated with illegal immigration will not right themselves on their own. The realities of our post 9/11 world make the consequences of inaction unacceptable.
We need to cut through the rhetoric. The issue before us boils down to the simple question of whether we as nation will enforce our laws or not.
1. Make clear the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. For those who abide by the law, we need to ensure a fair process that leads to citizenship:
2. Improve border security:
- Our immigration laws need to be based on the goal of naturalization, and not one of temporary economic convenience.
- We must improve our public schools. Education has always been the ladder used by each immigrant group to higher economic achievement. Public education must remain a viable path of opportunity and that means accountability for results, teacher competency, and adequate funding for both college and vocational paths.
- We need full funding for intensive ESL. By any measure, proficiency in English is a determinate of academic excellence, which in turn is a determinate of economic and jobs performance. The language provisions of the naturalization process should be taken seriously, as should language excellence in our schools.
- We must ensure a welcoming business climate for the new jobs and the new businesses our immigrant entrepreneurs are creating. The same tax reform, regulatory reform, and lawsuit reform needed by our current businesses are essential to making sure economic opportunity for all survives in this state.
3. Border control alone will not fix the security problems--we need a sustained and honest commitment to interior enforcement as well:
- Our border agencies must get the resources they need to do their job, including hiring additional Border Agents and increasing penalties against traffickers.
- Our border protection must look to more high-tech solutions, including electronic surveillance, expanded use of Predator and Hermes drones and other unmanned aircraft, and voluntary use of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System to help speed border processing.
- We need better information sharing between the border and public safety agencies. We need to expedite the data sharing for fingerprints, and move this effort quickly into DNA sample sharing as well as more states like California improve their sampling requirements.
- Our border control should not be subject to state veto.
4. Congress must reimburse the states and our local governments for bearing the costs of failed federal immigration policies:
- Illegal immigration should not be treated as a game of "pass Go and collect $200." What is considered illegal at the border remains so in our interior, and we need to restore an enforcement priority to make sure the billions we now spend at the border will be effective.
- Local governments that have adopted policies of refusing to comply with federal immigration enforcement agencies should be penalized in the allocation of federal grant funds--the message they now send reinforces the belief that the US is not serious about enforcing our laws.
- Tamper-proof IDs are needed to combat the pervasive fake systems that are available today on any downtown street corner. These IDs must include reliable, unique biometric data such as fingerprints. We do fingerprint scanning for drivers' licenses now. There is no reason not to apply this technology to other forms of secure ID as well.
5. Guest worker program should only be for jobs where it is demonstrated there are no resident applicants to fill them.
- In 1997, the National Research Council estimated the net fiscal cost of illegal immigration at $11-22 billion a year. Furthermore, that study pointed out that most taxes paid by illegal immigrants are collected by the federal government, but that most costs are paid by state and local agencies.
- California--the destination of about 1/3 of all illegal immigrants--pays a disproportionate share of those costs. The direct costs to the state budget are estimated to be $3-5 billion a year, with local governments picking up yet more of the tab.
6. Mexico needs to be part of the solution:
- Guest worker programs should be for the sole purpose of filling specific labor skill shortages. They should not be used to legalize our current situation.
- I will oppose any amnesty provision or any provision that even suggests amnesty in any immigration reform.
- We can provide a guest worker program that matches willing workers with willing employers when American workers cannot fill the jobs, but we can also do it without amnesty that rewards past illegal behavior.
- For too long, Mexico has used the US job market as its pressure valve to relieve demands for true reform in its own country. President Fox at the beginning of his term made good efforts for reform.
- But as Rosario Marin pointed out during this spring's primary, the Mexican Congress continues to be a roadblock to further reform. As a result, they have simply passed on their responsibility for job creation to the US.
- The economic imperative to improve their families' future is driving virtually all of the illegal immigrants to the US. We cannot fault these desires of individuals, but we certainly can demand that governments take care of these needs at home.