There have been a number of guest columns in the paper recently expounding on the idea that immigration has made this country great, which is true in the main aspect.

But some argue that anyone who has objections to immigration, in its current state, simply hates people with brown skin, i.e., anyone from Mexico or other countries further south.

Some even want open borders, arguing that we need more immigrants.

Dan Freeman, in his guest column, (“A modest proposal for immigration,” The Daily News, Feb. 11) said, “more extensive border enforcement and building walls, as advocated by some politicians, is a waste of time and money.”

Yes, we do pride ourselves as being a nation forged with immigrants from all over the world.

That diversity has enriched this country.

The U.S. currently allows more immigrants annually (roughly 1 million) than all other nations combined.

But that is the number that come to this country legally and go through the cumbersome process of becoming American citizens.

They leave their countries to pledge allegiance to this one.

They assimilate, learn our language and customs, study to become citizens and become part of this “great melting pot.”

Or they remain here for long periods to work (think professionals such as doctors, high tech experts, etc.), with legal visas renewed as necessary.

The illegal immigrants who have been streaming across our southern border for decades are another matter.

This swarming from the south (11 million and growing) has caused all sorts of social and economic problems that have nothing to do with the massive xenophobia in this county.

The problems are caused because they cannot easily assimilate, as legal immigrants have.

There are two reasons for this, (1) there are too many unskilled and uneducated illegals coming too fast across our border, and (2) they have no legal status and so they live in the shadows, always afraid of exposure and deportation.

The economic burden on state governments is that illegals are something of a dead weight in two of the biggest costs that states have — health care for indigents and public schools.

Most illegals don’t have insurance and simply show up at hospital emergency rooms. Schools have difficulty staying up with costs of a steady increase of alien students whose parents do not support the schools (don’t pay property taxes).

Across the country, unscrupulous businesses pay below minimum wage levels to non-skilled immigrants desperate for work, which causes a downward affect on wages.

The same effect spills over into some skilled trade jobs. For example, more illegal immigrants are getting into construction work such as carpentry, plumbing, roofing, etc., where contractors hire them at lower wages than they would pay otherwise.

Social problems are mainly those of nonassimilation.

There are boroughs in every metropolitan city of any size, from Texas to California, where a significant percentage of that population does not speak English, the language of our nation.

These economic and social problems caused by illegals are huge and must be addressed in comprehensive immigration reform. And yes, Dr. Freeman, that means closing our borders as a major first step. No other nation on earth allows people just to walk into their country.

The sad fact is that if unlimited numbers of illegals continue to cross our border they will, at some point, cause a great divide of this country — two different societies speaking two different languages, at loggerheads with each other.

Bob Fields lives in Santa Fe.

(41) comments

Richard Moore
Richard Moore

Illegal immigrants have been coming into Texas for years – and I would offer that whatever “divide” which that has created - has already occurred. Your article offers quite a contrast from the reasoned piece by Dan Freeman. Many of your assertions appear to be plucked from the thin air.

There are two things I would like to focus in on from your missive:
1) Those living here (illegally or legally) do in fact pay Taxes and I have no problem with sharing the services with them that our Taxes pay for. It is literally impossible for a person – legal or illegal to spend money while living here and not pay the SALES TAXES which go to support education and health care. Additionally, these immigrants live primarily in residences which are considered “improvements to real property” and if these properties are not assessed AD VOLOREUM TAXES, I would like to know how that works. Yes many immigrants live in rental property – however, I can assure you that a component of their rent goes to cover their tax. Finally – and this is a kicker for those of us that are here legally [sic], many of the illegal immigrants have a portion of their wages withheld for both Social Security Taxes even though they have no guaranteed opportunity to receive Social Security.
2) Your quest for assimilation probably goes much too far. From the tone of your piece, you would undoubtedly like for these immigrants to “learn” to act just like you. Many of us love to see the contrast in cultures brought about by immigration and welcome these differences. My ancestors immigrated to an area then known as San Fernando de Bexar (present day Sa Antonio) in 1731 to establish commerce on behalf Spain. A lot has happened since then, but I cherish the fact that immigrants from another country did so much to jump start the development of Texas.

We shouldn't use immigration as a “Red Herring” for pushing agendas – political or otherwise! It just doesn't work in a country made up almost totally of immigrants.

Pete Nanos

More illegals are paid under the table in cash and no taxes are paid. To say the illegals cause no problems is incorrect. To think they only take jobs that no one else will take is also incorrect. They also access social programs which they have never paid into. You have no idea how much they are taxing those programs and the truth is the whole push for amnesty is politlcal in nature as one party will garner those votes. These folks send much of their money home. There are illegals who come to emergency rooms on the border just to have their children born here as anchor babies, allowing them to avail themselves of social programs. You want a solution? Give them all green cards, but no amnesty.

Kevin Lang

Have you considered that when companies have "off the books" labor, they wind up showing more profits, which are subject to taxation? If they're paid under the table, the money that's not being withheld in taxes, benefits, and SS, will be available for them to pay rent and buy clothes--things that will allow them to pay sales taxes? Also, do we know what percentage of them is getting free services, versus those that do everything they can to avoid being in the system?

If they're here working, they're obviously benefiting someone. So, then it becomes a question of whether they are providing greater value in benefits to society compared to what they ultimately cost. If a homebuilder can sell a house for a good profit for 20K less than if he used legal labor, and now someone that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it can now buy, is that bad or good in the grand scheme?

That's the kind of stuff that makes the whole issue more than just reversing the 40 year or so trend of not enforcing the borders and labor laws.

Pete Nanos

overly simplistic viewpoint. They create a problem not just by their being here and not paying taxes, they take jobs from citizens. Citizens that then are on welfare, food stamps, unemployment, public housing and no longer paying taxes that build roads, build schools, etc. You think that because someone pays illegals under the table that they actually show their increased profit. You are truly naive.

Kevin Lang

You think that if I pay person X for a job rather than paying someone 2X for the same job that at the end of the day I'm going to have the same amount of money left? I suppose that the companies, on their balance sheets, are still showing 2X as their labor expenses but stuffing that money elsewhere instead, but that kind of stuff is a little more difficult to hide from auditors.

They also help SOLVE a problem--the very problem they initially (and in many cases still do) were brought in to do--the problem that American labor isn't all too willing to take the jobs, even at market wages. Also, the problem that American consumers aren't willing to pay the price for those jobs being performed by market-rate labor. How much of a consumer revolt do you think we'd see if farmers had to pay $7.25/hr for a large crew to tend and harvest tomato, lettuce, and strawberry fields? How about if a home builder had to pay an extra $5000 in labor to build a house, adding around an extra $10,000 to the price of the home?

Perhaps if our society and our government were really sensitive to this issue, and had actually tried to solve it in its infancy, our economy would have evolved to where the "should be" prices wouldn't be quite so disruptive.

The only way I see any drastic legislative changes happening anytime soon is if the Republicans get a veto-proof majority in the Senate and House, and a Democrat is President. That way, they can blame the President and his party for the economic turmoil that ensues. Otherwise, what will be passed by Republicans would be pro-business, which would essentially mean that they would find a way to make the current workers legal, but making them exempt from the minimum wage laws. American workers would probably be perfectly welcome to apply for those jobs, but the companies would pay them substantially below poverty-level wages. So, in the end, you'd have a few more Americans working in those jobs, but at virtually no reduction in the amount of welfare we're paying out, nor increase in the amount of income taxes we're collecting.

Might that be a step in the right direction? Perhaps, but only a very small baby step. It would be mostly a sideways step, but, with a micrometer you might detect the very slight forward trend.

Lars Faltskog

Response to Richard Moore posted at 9:00 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014:

So glad to see your response here. It's great to know that there's neighbors of ours in Galveston (and or/ our county) who are caring Texans, caring fellow citizens.

It does my heart good to see this kind of thing in the paper so that the rest of the country can realize that there indeed exist good Texans who grasp reality in their minds.

Texas is and always has been a melting pot of immigrant cultures. Now, I wonder why folks don't fret so much over immigrants who are: Canadian. Seems as though there's so many actors/actresses who are taking jobs away from made-in-the USA actors. LOL

Carlos Ponce

Then why sverige, have you made such a fuss about Ted Cruz being born in Canada? Was the wind blowing in the opposite direction?

Lars Faltskog

It's called "ironic humor", carlosrponce. It's so prevalent to hear folks get their panties in a wad from the Mexican/Central American immigrants.

But we na'ry hear a word about folks squackin' over Canadians pouring through our borders. Could it be because Canadians primarily are the "right color" and they generally speak English?

Kevin Lang

Bob Fields, do you happen to know how many controlled border crossings there are between the UK and France? How about between Germany and The Netherlands? Italy and Switzerland? I presume that just because they have currency and economic alliance, that doesn't mean that these are still sovereign nations, and that people crossing those borders are still considered to be immigrants. Even we Americans, although foreigners in the UK still have the ability to migrate freely throughout most of Europe without having to show our passports or visas again.

There are numerous issues that we must deal with in regards to Illegal Immigration. It's not enough to just think we can seal the borders and then everything is hunky dory. There are both positive and negative economic impacts to illegal immigration. Sealing the borders might very well solve some of the problems, but it also creates a bunch of new problems. You note that these illegal immigrants are providing low-cost labor pools for many industries. Seal the borders, and you cut off that labor supply. Do you know the impact to those businesses if you cut off that much of their labor pool? Do you know if our economy can easily absorb the increased prices of food, homes, etc. if the labor costs increase significantly in a short amount of time? People complain about the possible impacts of increasing the Federal Minimum Wage. I wonder if sealing the borders might force us to find out, even without a new Federal Minimum Wage.

Sealing the borders does nothing to decrease the business demand for the cheaper labor, nor does it do anything to resolve the economic issues south of the border that are driving them here for work.

There is a continued price for not resolving the issues. However, there is also a significant price to pay for poorly thought out attempts to solve parts of the problem while ignoring other positive and negative aspects.

Whatever we do, we must make the effort to comprehend the whole problem, and develop a comprehensive set of resolutions. Making things worse merely as an effort to curry political favor does our country no good--and that's true for both sides of the aisle.

GW Cornelius

Sounds like more GOP claptrap to me.

Carlos Ponce

The GOP believes in the Rule of Law and the Constitution of the United States. You and I can not pick and choose which laws of this this country we will obey and which we will not without paying the consequences. Why should they? I believe in LEGAL immigration. Illegal or undocumented immigration if you prefer sends the wrong message to their children: " We are moving to this country and will ignore their laws." Try pulling that stunt on your next trip south of the border and you will wind up in jail.
Definition of "claptrap": pretentious but insincere or empty language
No this is not "GOP claptrap".

Kevin Lang

carlosrponce, illegal immigration was raised as an issue during the Reagan years, perhaps even as early as the Nixon/Ford years. The "Rule of Law" wasn't that important then. While building up the border fences, etc., certainly needed Congressional funding to carry out, allocating Customs and Border Patrol personnel to control the problem back in the 80's was certainly an option. However, at that point, it was just farm workers helping to bust the influence of the UFW, and janitors helping reduce the reach of the SEIU, and they were pretty much just seasonal workers, so it got no real priority, or even lip service.

Supposedly now when there's some campaign advantages to lip service, we hear some tough talk. However, the reality now is that these workers are tightly woven into the fabric of our economy, making it more unlikely that the lawmakers will do much of anything of substance. At most, I don't expect to see anything more than perhaps a bit harsher treatment of the illegals that get caught causing trouble. Those that are working, keeping their noses clean, and keeping a low profile will continue to be left alone. After all, why would the conservatives do something that would force businessmen to pay market wages and cut into their profits and perhaps top-level and mid-level wages?

Dwight Burns

Carlosponce, your selective memory is remarkable. Kevjlang is correct.

Creating history to further your own wishful thinking doesn't make it reality.
The GOP has not done a thing to stop illigals from entering the US. In fact,
President George W. Bush encouraged the practice. Remember? "These people are here to do the work Americans want do." Now this, carlospounce, is fact.

Lars Faltskog

Response to Island Runner posted at 10:49 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014:

Now, why did you go and insult the claptrap by bringing it to the catacomb levels of GOP?
Claptraps have a place in our society too.

Lars Faltskog

Response to kevjlang posted at 10:11 pm on Tue, Feb 18, 2014,
Response to carlosrponce posted at 9:38 pm on Tue, Feb 18, 2014:

Well, Dan Patrick had a heavy heart when he hired that illegal 30 years ago. Guess Patrick's memories of all this from the 80s got erased from too much listening to the Thompson Twins, or something to that effect.

Carlos Ponce

Tell the WHOLE story from the Dallas Morning News, sverige!
From the DMN: "At the time(1983), it was not illegal for U.S. businesses to employ unauthorized workers. Dan Patrick only “vaguely” remembers Miguel "Mike' Andrade at one of his establishments. He said he had nothing to do with the hiring and that managers at each location handled employment decisions.'We had literally hundreds of full-time and part-time employees. It’s a transient business and many young people come and go,' Patrick said in a statement. Andrade agreed that a manager under Patrick hired him and the other three men."
So sverige, although Andrade worked at one of Dan Patrick's West Houston Sports Bars, he DID NOT hire him as you state.

Lars Faltskog

Channel 13 said Patrick hired Andrade. Besides, the person in the highest managerial position bears the responsibility, ultimately. "The buck stops here", so to speak.

Ipso facto, Patrick hired illegal aliens in the 80s. Good for him. Maybe I'll give him my vote. Er, on 2nd though,.......nah.

Carlos Ponce

Check the TRANSCRIPT and story, sverige:

Channel 13 says " One candidate claims State Senator Dan Patrick employed illegal immigrants," As the Dallas Morning News states " At the time(1983), it was not illegal for U.S. businesses to employ unauthorized workers.". Channel 13 NEVER said "Patrick hired Andrade"as you write.
This happened 31 years ago, sverige. Are you going to look up his kindergarten records too? And they thought Joe McCarthy was bad.

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 1:35 pm on Wed, Feb 19, 2014:

Well, it may have all transpired when Jane Fonda was launching her 1st workout videos, but that doesn't give Patrick a "pass" for his grandstanding on the immigration issue in the here and now. His commercials, along with most of the other republican ads are wrought with maudlin references to flag saluting, prayer in schools, and so on. One less candidate would be the T.

It's a rather utilitarian campaign strategy on the part of his opposing republican candidates, to dredge up his inconsistencies from back then. Wonder what he did in the "disco age"? Either way, this could very well be the demise of his vying for public office. So be it. He has other means to spread his propaganda. All's well in political unlove and war.

Jose' Boix

Quite a bit of what seems to be good Forum rhetoric. Let’s hear from you all great forum immigration thinkers, what is the “fix”?

What do “we” do with the “millions” who are here illegally?
How about the children born in US soil from illegals?
How do we deal with the “millions” who entered legally and are still here with overdue visas?
What do we do with illegals who married US born-native Americans?

Let’s just start with these.

Carlos Ponce

What do “we” do with the “millions” who are here illegally?
Require that employers need "proof" that the workers are here with permission (con permiso). If not - no trabajo - no job. Then either they will seek legal status or return to their home country. Right now the word South of the border is no permiso? no problema!
How about the children born in US soil from illegals? They should stay with their parents even if their parents are sent home. If they have American relatives or relatives with legal status they may sign over parental rights so the child can remain but I would not recommend this path.
How do we deal with the “millions” who entered legally and are still here with overdue visas? I doubt if overdue Visas exist. They send their Visas back to the Consulate or embassy as "PROOF" that they returned to their country with friends or relatives. Therefore they are here illegally, so go back to question 1.
What do we do with illegals who married US born-native Americans? A foreign national if married to an American citizen is already given preferential treatment to remain. Ever see the movie "Green Card"?

Kevin Lang

carlosrponce, I don't believe that "A foreign national if married to an American citizen is already given preferential treatment to remain." is necessarily true anymore. There are more checks on those now. The government is pretty wary of the "mail-order" marriages and other "marriages of convenience" scams.

Kevin Lang

I think that the fix needs to recognize that roundups and mass deportations would be unworkable.

Our constitution doesn't say anything about "legal" versus "illegal" imigration when it comes to being a citizen by birth. So, those children born here to illegal immigrants, it seems, would have to be considered US Citizens.

For the rest, when you consider the disruptions to commerce and production that would occur by rounding up people and hauling them back across the border, I don't see anything more practical than documenting them, and start their immigration clock from that point. Now, when it cones to those that don't fall into the above buckets, but have a pattern of causing trouble, let's work on getting them out of here.

I'm fine with gaining control of our immigration process, including streamlining the process and making the process more navigable. Even adding a bit more intelligence to the system.

Any fixes have to address the significant changes in wage scales that the farming, tourism, and construction industries, for example, will likely see as a resut of a primarily legal workforce that cannot work for below market wages.

Lars Faltskog

Response to drumb47 posted at 12:34 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014:

And, what's amazing is to see all of these grandstanding state politicos and their ads, claiming that they will "fix" the illegal alien problem with tough Texas talk and big cowboy hats.

I'm sure most of these wealthy republican politicos have, at one time or another, hired illegals (as Patrick was exposed the other day). Their memory is selective in that, but they're quick to point out the democrats' "failures" in the issue.

Seems as though the focus should turn not on how to drive them away (because they won't be). But, rather, focus on how to make them employable, assimilateable, and to contribute the best way possible to society.

Carlos Ponce

There you go again, sverige. Repeating a lie does not make it true. Dan Patrick did not personally hire any illegals as I proved in an earlier (see below) post. One of his managers hired them. And why are you so worried about who the Republicans nominate? Save your ammo for November. You are going to need it!

Lars Faltskog

Remember what I said about "the buck stops here"? He is personally responsible for the goings on of his subordinates/"hiring managers".

Patrick, in essence, hired illegals and contributed to the illegal's circulation of the US economy. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with it. Patrick just needs to own up to it.

Carlos Ponce

Talk about a S T R E T C H. Next you are going to blame the patrons of Dan Patrick's Sports Bars in West Houston (especially if they tipped) of contributing to the hiring of illegals. Maybe sverige inadvertently hired an illegal? Had your yard mowed, house painted, roof fixed, house built, etc that involved an illegal? You know how many illegals worked in the Houston Galveston area following Hurricane Ike? After the Private Investigator finishes with Dan Patrick maybe he needs to check each venue sverige was engaged in since 1983. After all sverige writes the buck stops with HIM.

Kevin Lang

The person that hires the person that does the dirty work is just as guilty of the dirty work as the person that did it.

Either that, or, since the IRS scandal was planned and carried out by people beneath Obama, I guess Obama is not responsible for it?

If I do something illegal while on the job, my employer is at least as liable as I am.

Lars Faltskog

Exactly, kev.
And, that's the pitfalls of assuming more responsibility and becoming the head honcho. The recognition, prestige, and perhaps more money are the pros of being a manager/CEO/president. The cons involve having to hire/fire, deal with workers' conflicts, and assuming responsibility for the company if "unlawful" actions occur.

That's just the way it is. Math lesson for today:

Patrick is algabraic "b". Hiring Manager is "x". b = x . Illegal hired hand candidate = "z". A hired illegal = q. So, the equation and its solution results as: Hiring Manager + Illegal hired hand = a hired illegal. That is, x + z = q. Substitute Patrick (b) for Hiring manager (x). Result: b + z = q.

Carlos Ponce

sverige, as an Algebra teacher fully certified by the State of Texas I have to give you an "F" on your above nonsense. An equality cannot be established between two non-congruent entities. Dan Patrick is the OWNER. He hired the MANAGER . The MANAGER hired the ILLEGAL. Dan Patrick can FIRE the MANAGER. You CANNOT establish an equality between the two.
This is simple logic. Leave the math lessons for the math teachers.

Kevin Lang

So, carlosrponce, I guess you agree with the liberals that Obama wasn't responsible for the rogue IRS staff that was putting up roadblocks for the conservative groups' tax exempt statuses during the last election cycle?

I don't know that it's ever been legal for illegal immigrants to hold jobs in this country. The fact that it was technically only illegal for the illegal immigrants to get jobs is not the same as it being perfectly fine for someone to hire them. The fact that the law couldn't criminally charge the establishment for hiring someone that could not legally work doesn't negate the ethical aspects. Did the guy provide them with anything to prove his identity? How about a SSN?

Violation of the letter of the law at the time? Probably not. However, I thought that conservatives stood for more than just the letter of the law. What about moral/ethical conduct? Or are questionable ethics OK as long as the legal system doesn't have a specific statute against it?

Just how many illegal immigrants do you think we'd have here if we didn't have ethically flawed operations giving them jobs?

Lars Faltskog

I think Reba, a long time ago, cut a song selection on one of her labels - and it was called "The Great Divide". But, that was about a couple about ready to "split".

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 6:46 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014:

Well, carlos. I couldn't do much in 1983 (with a home or otherwise), but Captain Planet kept me entertained and aware of our responsiblity to the environment.

I think it's fine to hire illegals. I may have in the past (probably roofing). As I've mentioned, it wasn't wrong for Patrick to hire the illegals (he's stimulating the economy). What's in error on his part is to hypocritically pretend that he's "innocent" and it's also erroneous that he gets on his high horse (like the other candidates) and exclaim "we need to deport", "no amnesty!" It's really childish, and the cowboy hats they wear in the ads do them no favors. They make terrible cowboys, and insult the real ones.

Carlos Ponce

sverige, Republicans believe in "Rule of Law". As the Dallas Morning News points out it was NOT against the law to hire illegals in 1983. That is why Dan Patrick did not fire the manager who hired the illegal. But now it is 2014, the laws have changed. We live in a world where we must protect our borders. Dan Patrick did not change, the laws did. It is not childish to enforce the laws of the United States. President Obama took an oath to do precisely that.

Lars Faltskog

Response to Question posted at 9:52 pm on Thu, Feb 20, 2014:

You're oh so right, Question. The illegals took my job that I could've had folding clothes at the Beechcomber Inn.

Then, I was robbed of my job as a roofer for that house on 39th by that illegal, the one that I saw interviewing what looked like the foreman. I think the roofer/interviewee's English was better than mine, so he got that lucrative job. Darn. Now, I need to go back to Ingles Sin Barreras to brush up.

How I envy the undocumented workers who get all the plumb jobs.

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 8:02 am on Fri, Feb 21, 2014:

carlosrponce -
You need to read kevin's response "posted at 10:11 pm on Tue, Feb 18, 2014" regarding your "rule of law" phrase. I can't explain it better than he did. I faintly remember reading about how even RW Reagan granted amnesty in one fell swoop in the middle 80s. That's some "rule of law".

Carlos Ponce

Kevin wrote " The "Rule of Law" wasn't that important then."
Well as I wrote before, the law has changed. That was then. This is now.
And The Beachcomber Inn is looking for a new clothes folder.
This time on your application spell it correctly :
B E A C H C O M B E R not B E E C H C O M B E R and maybe the illegals won't get your job.
PS, don't list your Spelling teacher as a reference. I don't think it will help. [wink]

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 7:54 am on Fri, Feb 21, 2014:

It's called "substitution". Patrick is indeed the same as his Hiring Manager. They are interchangeable, equal, and congruent:

≅ - represents the "congruent" symbol; ipso facto - Patrick = Hiring Manager

Patrick ≅ Hiring Manager

End of Math 101 Lesson of Today

Carlos Ponce

sverige, you cannot substitute two things that are not equivalent. Dan Patrick is not the same as his hiring manager. The hiring manager is Dan Patrick's subordinate, Dan hired HIM. Dan can fire Him. If they were equal or congruent, the hiring manager could hire or fire Dan Patrick, the owner, That makes no sense.
Stop with the non sequitur. You still get an "F". Leave Math lessons to someone who knows what he is talking about.

Lars Faltskog

Glad you're not my teacher, or I'd ask for a different one LOL. It's called New Math and it's really fly, it's the latest fashion. Bottom line is that Patrick, and folks of his ilk's goose is cooked.

Carlos Ponce

So you call it "New Math". Good thing it is not being applied in the state of Texas. I have used the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) for Mathematics since its inception and nothing like you describe is in it. Other states are either using the TEKS for their own states or adapting something similar.
And what do you have against cooked goose? I personally prefer chicken or turkey but it's Dan's choice isn't it? Telling him its ready is a bit redundant. He knows when it is dinner or suppertime. Question: Can you serve cranberry sauce with cooked goose?

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