September 25th, 2007 21:25 EST
Immigration, Yes. Illegal Immigration, No!
Although the Immigration Bill seems dead, the issue it addressed is not. Every day hundreds of foreigners slip across US borders in every possible way: hiding in car trunks, digging tunnels, or counterfeiting documents. Even if, as a growing number of Americans demand, a huge fence were to separate the country from Mexico, it would not solve the problem of millions of aliens already inside the US.
Illegal immigration is not an exclusively American problem. It causes throbbing headaches to most societies of the developed world. Nowhere is this more visible than in Europe. As a continent neighboring dire poverty in Asia and Africa, it has become a natural haven for millions of people seeking a better life.
France was among the countries which first opened their borders to immigrants. Having recovered from the carnage of World War II, France entered the 1950s with rapid industrial development. Although factories destroyed by German bombs had been rebuilt surprisingly quickly, the country`s population had not yet reached its pre-war level. Therefore, the government made a tough decision to invite foreign workers from France`s crumbling colonial empire. At first, they were to remain in the country for a short period of time " until the native French were able to replace them. But years passed, and the number of immigrants was not decreasing as expected. Instead, the country was flooded with new waves of immigrants.
Unlike in the 1950s and 1960s, however, further generations of foreigners came to France illegally, often abusing the liberal immigration law. Around the 1980s, French authorities lost count of the number of aliens living in their country. It is approximated that roughly 500,000 illegal immigrants are now in France. In addition, France hosts anywhere from 4 to 6 million Muslims, many of whom come from North Africa. Despite having been born in France, they remain loyal to the homelands of their fathers or grandfathers and are immune to any assimilation programs. Not only are they not interested in applying for jobs or being content with the generous social aid, but they have also grown increasingly extreme in their religious and political demands. They take to the streets and demolish cars and buildings any time they feel betrayed: when the police arrest one of them or a right-wing candidate wins a presidential election. They were born in France " the cradle of democracy " the privilege they seem not to understand.
In fact, similar problems occur in the entire European Union. Most of the member states have gone the same way as France " from having inviting immigrants during the economic boom of the 1960s and 1970s, to being trapped in a quagmire of ethnic minorities at the onset of the 21st century.
According to research at Erasmus University, there are more than 150,000 illegal immigrants in the Netherlands " a country of less than 17 million people. On May 6, 2002, a self-proclaimed defender of those 150,000 aliens followed Pim Fortuyn, a conservative politician, and murdered him in a parking lot. Two years later a controversial film director, Theo van Gogh, was stabbed to death by Mohammed Bouyer, a Dutchman of Moroccan descent.
Even such liberal and open countries as Sweden and Denmark fall victim to illegal immigration. On the second anniversary of 9/11, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh, was stabbed in chest and stomach by Mijailo MijailoviÃ¦, a son of Serbian immigrants. During the trial and after, Mijailovic demanded to serve the life imprisonment in Serbia.
In 2005, a Danish newspaper published a tame caricature of Prophet Muhammad which caused a massive outcry from Muslims in Denmark and abroad. Several Danish embassies in Arab countries were burned and Danish products banned in Muslim groceries. Muslim immigrants living in Denmark, legal and illegal, almost toppled the democratically elected government.
What was the response to those examples of violence? France still has not come up with a solution to take over the reins of its ever-growing number of immigrants. Conservative President Sarkozy has announced a plan to expel all aliens from the country; but, his declaration has met with a wall of staunch opposition from left-wing parties and the media.
In the Netherlands, the two murders sparked enormous, but short-lived, support for right-wing extremists which had withered away by the following general election.
Sweden has toughened its immigration law, cementing its position as the western country with the smallest number of immigrants.
The Danish authorities, together with the country`s mainstream media, officially apologized for the unfortunate caricature incident " and promised not to aggravate Muslim immigrants ~ again.
Socialist governments which took over in Italy and Spain granted amnesty for hundreds of thousands of aliens living in their countries. Since the amnesty was brought about, the number of would-be immigrants arriving on Italian and Spanish shores has considerably increased.
Illegal immigrants have invaded Europe for decades. Step by step they acquired more and more rights and privileges for themselves until they have taken their new homelands hostage.
The United States can either repeat Europe`s fatal mistakes or learn from them. The defeat of the Immigration Bill is a good sign. It gives the president and senators a new opportunity to write a better, more thorough version without the pressure of a political fight. Meanwhile, state and federal authorities can enforce the existing law " the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). IRCA says that whoever hires, recruits or refers for a fee an alien knowing he or she is unauthorized to work " may be subject to fines raging from $100 to $11,000 per one illegal worker, or even face criminal charges. Hiring aliens would cease to be profitable.
America needs immigrants. The American economy needs immigrants. American culture needs immigrants. The Statue of Liberty has always been a symbol of a country where anyone can fulfill his or her ambitions, regardless of his or her race, descent, or age. Skills and stubbornness are everything one needs to realize one`s version of the American dream. But it is up to US authorities to make sure that those who come to the United States are honest and ready to respect the laws which the country has enacted throughout its history. Otherwise, we run the risk that tourists visiting New York may soon be greeted by the ruins of a once symbolic monument, destroyed by a home-grown bomb attack.
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