Illegal immigration – yes, it’s a problem

But not surprisingly, legal and illegal immigrants alike (as well as ‘civil rights advocates’) see little problem with it and instead have serious issues with the proposed federal legislation that would: crack down on illegal immigration, make it a felony to be one and assist one, and build a security wall against the southern border of the US. Via the LA Times:

Spirited but peaceful marchers — ordinary immigrants alongside labor, religious and civil rights groups — stretched more than 20 blocks along Spring Street, Broadway and Main Street to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting, “Sí se puede!” (Yes we can!).

Attendance at the demonstration far surpassed the number of people who protested against the Vietnam War and Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that sought to deny public benefits to undocumented migrants but was struck down by the courts. Police said there were no arrests or injuries except for a few cases of exhaustion.

At a time when Congress prepares to crack down further on illegal immigration and self-appointed militias patrol the U.S. border to stem the flow, Saturday’s rally represented a massive response, part of what immigration advocates are calling an unprecedented effort to mobilize immigrants and their supporters nationwide.

It coincides with an initiative on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, spearheaded by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, to defy a House bill that would make aiding undocumented immigrants a felony. And it signals the burgeoning political clout of Latinos, especially in California.

“There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever,” said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “They have kicked the sleeping giant. It’s the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle.”

The demonstrators, many wearing white shirts to symbolize peace, included both longtime residents and the newly arrived, bound by a desire for a better life.

Arbelica Lazo, 40, illegally emigrated from El Salvador two decades ago but said she now owns two businesses and pays $7,000 in income taxes each year.

Jose Alberto Salvador, 33, came here illegally four months ago to find work to support the wife and five children he left behind. In his native Guatemala, he said, what little work he could find paid $10 a day.

“As much as we need this country, we love this country,” Salvador said, waving both the American and Guatemalan flags. “This country gives us opportunities we don’t get at home.”

On Monday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to resume work on a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. The Senate committee’s version includes elements of various bills, including a guest worker program and a path to legalization for the nation’s 10 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants proposed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)

In addition, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has introduced a bill that would strengthen border security, crack down on employers of illegal immigrants and increase the number of visas for workers. Frist has said he would take his bill to the floor Tuesday if the committee does not finish its work Monday.

(Hat tip to Bryan Preston)

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) isn’t pulling any punches:

Tancredo may not be a household name yet, but he’s doing everything he can to change that. As the House and Senate debate the nation’s immigration and border-security laws, the four-term Coloradan has positioned himself as the loudest, angriest voice against the estimated 11 million illegal aliens now living in the United States. They are “a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation,” he says. He laments “the cult of multiculturalism,” and worries about America’s becoming a “Tower of Babel.” If Republican presidential candidates don’t put the problem atop the agenda in 2008, he says he’ll run himself, just to force the front runners to talk about it. Not that he thinks he’d win the White House. He declares himself “too fat, too short and too bald” to be president. If the Republicans lose the election because he’s too tough on the issue, he says, “So be it.”

Not so long ago, Tancredo was regarded as little more than a noisy pest on Capitol Hill. His colleagues shook their heads at his tireless demands for crackdowns on American employers who hire illegals and his idea for a 700-mile-long fence along the Mexican border. But in recent months, some of those same Republicans have come to realize that, while Tancredo may be a crank, he is a crank with a large and passionate following. Anti-immigration sentiment has always simmered, and it flares up about once a decade—the last time it hit this level was 1996, when California Gov. Pete Wilson made it the centerpiece of his failed presidential campaign. Tancredo was one of the first politicians to tap into the latest surge of anger. In states with large numbers of undocumented workers, voters complain that poor illegals are overwhelming public schools, clogging hospital emergency rooms and bankrupting welfare budgets. And they worry that inadequate border security makes it easy for would-be terrorists to sneak into the country. Tancredo’s colleagues are listening. When he arrived in Washington, he started the Immigration Reform Caucus. The group attracted just 16 members. Today, there are 91.

The battle over what to do over the problem of illegal immigration is obviously heating up …. but the problem is that both sides of the aisle offer little more than platitudes when discussing the issue and, until recently, never seemed to want to discuss anything meaningful in the way of solutions to the problem – for fear of offending potential voters, as well as Hispanic voters who are here legally. This problem needs to be gotten under control – it’s something that is long overdue, and I’m with Tancredo on what he said about the GOP taking a stand on this: if the GOP loses over standing on principle on the issue of illegal immigration, so be it.

Read more via Mark Krikorian at NRO’s “The Corner”, Joshua Sharf at Newsbusters

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