The High Cost of Illegal Immigration

My thanks to the members of UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education for their response to my commentary “The High Price of English 101.” While their response contains more sincere passion than it does impartial analysis of the subject of foreign immigration, it does contribute to the dialogue and to the search for truth.

Massive, unrelenting, foreign immigration into America has had many deleterious effects on this nation. The negative effect on public education is one of the better documented of these. The measure of the impact on public education has not been made with my yardstick but with those of various government agencies including the one quoted in my commentary.

The high cost and continuing dismal results of efforts to educate children of foreign immigrants, mostly Hispanic, is a fact that no amount of passionate indignation or personal invectives will change. The observation that the poor performance of the majority of these students results from their indifference toward education and from their cultural background and difficult socio-economic circumstances is easily verified by examination of our public schools, even here in Santa Barbara. Candid conversations with teachers confirm that the challenge of teaching all students is made more difficult by the presence of large numbers of non-English-speaking children of immigrants. This is neither an indictment of the immigrants nor of the education system, it is simply an observable phenomenon.

Choosing to cite these circumstances to absolve these children for their failure to succeed in public schools does not alter the reality of the situation. As long as this nation continues to tolerate the invasion of illegal aliens, especially non-English speaking aliens, the burden on our public education system will continue to make it less effective at educating all students.

Asking American taxpayers to come up with more money for education has not proven to be a solution for accommodating overwhelming numbers of foreigners who have little or no English skills. Americans already suffer close to the highest effective tax rates in the world, and public education at the state and local levels continues to get the lion’s share of the tax money. The rational choice to improve the effectiveness of public education is not to pour more money into a leaky bucket, but to plug the holes by curtailing illegal immigration.

The Gevirtz Group thinkers’ statement that the majority of Americans are descendents of immigrants is a stale shibboleth that adds nothing to the cogency of any argument supporting continued immigration into America, and is certainly no defense for illegal immigration. The study of history reveals that ultimately the citizens of any nation are descendents of immigrants. From the long perspective of history, America is no more or less a nation of immigrants than is England, France, Russia or most any other nation on earth.

America is a nation of citizens united by a common culture, a common language, and by a system of laws flowing from its founding covenant, the Constitution. Unrelenting, massive foreign immigration jeopardizes all of these uniting factors. Illegal immigrants are not citizens of America. They are outlaws, and many bear greater allegiance to their native land and culture than to America. Because of an anachronistic misapplication of the 14th Amendment, their children born here are currently recognized as citizens, but that does not make them any easier to educate or to assimilate into America.

The Gevirtz Group thinkers accurately observe that the employers of illegal aliens pay these aliens substandard wages, but if these employers could be compelled to pay higher wages to immigrants they might well choose to hire better-educated, English-speaking natives, rather than immigrants. Or, they might choose to move their businesses to Mexico or to other nations with lax or non-existent labor laws where they could continue to take advantage of the large labor pools of desperately poor and chronically unemployed people.

Contrary to the thinking of the people-packers – thinking typically derived from greed or guilt – America does not need, nor must it accept, more human population. America cannot accommodate all the people who want to live here without destroying what makes America so desirable. There are limits. The American ship is already too crowded and is beginning to take on water.

Finally, a word of avuncular advice to the compassionate thinkers at the Gevirtz Group; implying that those with whom you disagree on the issue of immigration are racists or motivated by racism is, by now, recognized as the tedious rhetorical refuge of those unable to sustain their position with reason. It is an attempt to diminish the credibility of those who hold an opposing view to your own by defaming them. Such tactics are unworthy of your fine institution. Before making such public accusations or insinuations against anyone, consider whether or not these are supported by sufficient evidence or whether you are surrendering civility to imprudent passion.