When Miss Vero gave me the opportunity to write for the Beach House it was with the understanding I would be writing mostly about the green side of life and she wouldn't edit or censor what I wrote. So, if you should disagree with what I'm about to say, don't blame her- she's just keeping her word.
You can't talk for long about the threats to the environment without talking about population growth. And you can't talk for long about population growth without talking about immigration, both legal and illegal. Though I believe we need a moratorium on all immigration for 5 years to give us time to come up with a sane policy that is balanced and sustainable, for today's blog I will limit it to illegal immigration.
There are limits to growth. Plain and simple. I know it's been said since Thomas Robert Malthus published his essays on the Principles of Population in the early 1800's (probably even before that time by someone else) but it's never been more apparent than it is today. I hate doom and gloom and prefer to focus on the positive side of life. But... unfortunately, optimism doesn't fuel activism and I believe we're going to need some real good activism.
The reason? Because the buzz is that President Obama will soon be taking some sort of position on granting a path to citizenship to the illegal immigrants. It may seem like no big deal making illegal immigrants living along side us citizens. Maybe it wouldn't be if we weren't in the mess we're in environmentally, socially and financially. As it is now, every year we grow by almost 4 million people. Every 4 years that's almost like adding another state of Florida that need jobs, services, education, roads, jails, water, food, energy, etc. and who create pollution through the mere act of living no matter how hard they try to be green.
70 - 90% of that growth is from immigration and offspring of recent immigrants.
Unless immigration reform changes it, the person we grant citizenship eventually could be able to bring their extended family in under our family reunification laws. That could realistically swell the 12 to 30 million number to over 100 million in a matter of years. To get an idea what growth of 100 million is like, that was how much we grew from the late 1960's to 2006.
Family reunification isn't working so well right now because we have so many immigrants trying to come legally our immigration system has a backlog of 20 years; even though the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gets $2.6 billion dollars a year to operate. They were also given an additional $500 million in stimulus funds (over 5 years) to go from a paper filing system to a computer system because the backlog costs us $100 million a year in archiving, storage, retrieval and shipping costs. And we lose or misplace 100,000 files adding to the backlog. (BTW, this is on top of $500 million President Bush gave them 7 years ago to help clear the backlog.) That money also does not include what we pay to employ 250 attorneys and 100 others as support staff for the Office of Immigration Litigation, part of the U.S. Department of Justice. (Also in need of an increase in funding.)There are other costs but that alone gives you an idea of how expensive and time consuming it is to grant citizenship to about 1 million legal immigrants a year. How will we afford to make 12, 30, or 100 million on top of it citizens in the next few years?
We need to look beyond today and decide what the future of our country should be. We also need to look beyond individuals coming here for a better life and think about them as a whole. As a whole our immigration numbers are unsustainable. As a whole the way we're going about doing it is unbalanced. As a whole it's not helping the countries the illegal immigrants hail from. And at 305 million we're busting at the seams environmentally, socially, and financially. And we still don't know how we're going to compete in a global economy or how long or how deep our recession will be.
While campaigning, President Obama promised Hispanic groups he'd tackle illegal immigration in his first year. But things have gotten more severe since he took office and some feel for him to tackle it now would be too polarizing. They also believe it will be held off until his other priorities have been debated like energy and healthcare and the economy improves. Depending how things go, it's even possible it would be held off until or if he wins a second term when he has nothing to lose.
There are legitimate issues that need to be addressed as the system does need to be reformed. I favor allowing those who already applied but are stuck in the system to have a better path but am opposed to giving most other illegal immigrants a better path to citizenship. Of the 1 million immigrants the U.S. gives citizenship to each year, two-thirds come through family reunification. Obviously, that needs reform as it's based on nepotism and is not conducive to true diversity.
At this point there isn't much we can do but wait to see what President Obama or Congress proposes. But in the meantime, there are a few bills in Florida that relate to illegal immigration that would help us financially while we wait to see what's going to happen nationally.
Three of them any "law-abiding" illegal immigrant shouldn't have a problem with. One would make it so criminals (other than the crime of being here illegally) would be deported taking away their chance to become citizens should path to citizenship come to pass. Another is a bill against human smuggling and the third sets up a task force on human trafficking. All in everyone's best interest. The other two, not so but I'm posting them anyway.
So please take a look and then ask our Florida Representatives and Senators to pass them before the session is done for another whole year. (There's only 2 1/2 weeks left.)
HB 123/ SB 502 Human Smuggling: Provides that person commits third degree felony if he or she transports an individual into this state & knows, or should know, that individual is illegally entering US or has illegally remained in US; provides enhanced penalties if individual being transported is minor or suffers great bodily harm or death.
HB 811/ SB 168 Human Trafficking: Creates Florida Statewide Task Force on Human Trafficking....
HB 163/ SB 352 Relating Illegal Alien in the correctional system: Requires DOC & Parole Commission to establish agreements to implement federal deportation program for certain state inmates; requires DOC to identify during reception inmates eligible for deportation; requires coordination with federal authorities; specifies that eligible inmates waive specified rights & cooperate with authorities....
HB 577/ SB 1532 Illegal Immigration: Prohibits restrictions on reporting of certain immigration status information by public employees; prohibits certain local government restrictions concerning communication or cooperation with federal officials concerning immigration law enforcement.
HB 915/ SB 1848 Enforcement of Immigration Laws: Creates "Florida Security and Immigration Compliance Act"; prohibits agencies from entering into contract for services with contractors not registered & participating in federal work authorization program by specified date;....provides penalty for knowingly & willfully making false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in affidavit attesting to citizenship or permanent legal residency.
Who to contact:
Senator Mike Haridopolos:
Representative Debbie Mayfield:
Representative Ralph Poppell:
To be continued...