EDITOR'S NOTE: The following column was first written and posted in 2006. Unfortunately, the facts related below still hold true regarding English-speaking Americans being forced to Press 1 for English when contacting government agencies and many private businesses.
It's happened to me more times than I care to remember...a call to either a public or private institution or a government agency begins with the words, "For English, press one." To most people, when this occurs it is frustrating to no end. I thought I heard it all, but the other day, when making a call to the Social Security Administration, I heard the usual prompt about pressing one for English. However, to my amazement, the recording at the other end of the phone line began spouting out a healthy flow of uninterrupted Spanish. In fact, I was required to do something or I would have had to take a quick course "en Espanol" to understand what was being said. Here I was, an English-speaking American citizen, who was being forced to do something extra, in order to receive a message from my own government in English. I was astounded, yet it seemed par for the course.
I get the same feeling when I call or write elected officials in Congress concerning the problem of illegal immigration. It seems politicians are not speaking the same language as I am. Unfortunately, this is not an exception to the rule.
Overwhelmingly, Americans favor policies that would restrict the flow of illegal aliens into the United States over our border with Mexico. Whether it would take the building of a 2,000 mile long security fence on the border or sending the military to stem the flow of illegals into the United States, Americans want something done -- and soon -- concerning the issue.
But all we are hearing from many legislators is how illegal immigrants need to come out of the shadows and be given citizenship. The Republican Party is divided on the issue and Democrats, for the most part, see the legalization of 12 million more illegals as a way to increase their voting bloc. Some Republicans are hesitant to take on the problem because they are beholding to big business. During the recent so-called immigrant walk-out, companies like Tyson Foods and Purdue Chicken were forced to close their plants because so many of their employees were not going to show up for work that day. Now you would think the office of Homeland Security would be asking some serious questions of Tyson and Purdue concerning their plant closings. Are so many illegals working at these companies that business could not be conducted? It seems these businesses were doing Homeland Security's work for them. But there were no reports of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) raiding Tyson or Purdue or, for that matter, any of the many companies that closed down on "immigration walk-out day," whether the businesses were big or small.
Yes, I know many illegal immigrants present fake ID's while seeking employment. Indeed, the Social Security Administration reported $60 billion in fraudulent claims last year alone. But it should only take one year--at most--to recognize who is using a "real" Social Security number and who isn't. To suggest this is an insurmountable problem is ridiculous. American Express does vary well, thank you, while keeping track of who is using their credit cards. VISA knows exactly how much credit an individual has in their account in real time. To suggest the government couldn't come up with a similar computerized system is beyond belief. I take that back. The government probably couldn't come up with a reliable system to track cases of identity fraud when it comes to employers hiring illegals. The private sector would do a much better job of creating a system that's foolproof--no pun intended.
So, why don't Republicans favor stronger sanctions against those who break our immigration laws? They receive big bucks from businesses who hire illegals, that’s why. However, while thinking about the here and now, the majority party may be dooming itself for the future. It is estimated there are 12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, 60% of which come from Latin American countries. If "amnesty" were granted to these 12 million, the true number of those to be put on the fast track to citizenship could be doubled or tripled. The truth is immediate family members of those who would receive "amnesty" would also become eligible for U.S. citizenship.
If Republicans are fooled into believing this new group will vote their way, I have a bridge someone in the GOP may want to buy. If 30 to 35 million illegals were suddenly legalized, with their participation in the electoral process, Republicans may never see majority status in Congress for the foreseeable future. In contrast, Democrats see "legalization" as a political windfall--and well they should.
There are serious concerns whether Republicans can hold on to the majority they have in both Houses after the 2006 election. By being soft on illegal immigration, the GOP is rushing towards an abyss from which they may never return. They are alienating their conservative base and this is a formula for disaster. The trade-off is simple. Do Republicans want money now or do they want to lose votes later? In this case, the two are mutually exclusive. For that matter, all elected officials should be doing the right thing by making sure laws are enforced.
Please press one, if you feel Republicans are not getting the message concerning illegal immigration.
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