Do you agree with this Immigration policies have led nation to essentially ‘import a poverty class?

This is in response to The Californian’s March 24 editorial, “Immigration reform that helps growers, consumers, economy.” I have no argument with the view that there could be intelligent immigration reform that could help growers, consumers and the economy. However, I have yet to see anything that comes close from Congress that could accomplish that worthy goal.

When it comes to immigration statistics, the numbers can be, and are, bent to support any position advocated. On this subject, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, one of the most influential and powerful congressmen on Capitol Hill, stated, “We’ve been duped.”

Let me toss out a statistic that I can only back up from personal experience and the best determination of hundreds of my colleagues in various roles with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service: Eighty-five percent of those granted amnesty under the last legislation meant for special agricultural workers did not qualify for that benefit; many had simply purchased a farm letter.

The bona fide applications for asylum are privately considered even less in numbers. In other words, as communicated to me by a humble Armenian immigrant years ago, “We imported a poverty class.”

The “amnesty” bill was largely written by an INS regional bureaucrat who never met a payroll in his life, nor competed with foreign nationals for your business. Much of today’s legislation is written and promoted for private gain by immigration attorneys who stand to make millions from a new amnesty.

The old amnesty legislation was sold to Congress and the American people with the emphasis that the federal government would get tough on employers hiring illegal aliens; isn’t that the song they are singing today? Illegal immigration a hot topic at the time, but if you were to go to the extensive index of then-President Reagan’s diary, you would not be able to find one entry or comment on immigration whatsoever.

At that time, the attorney general of the United States, while touring the Los Angeles federal building, leaned over and asked a supervisory detention officer, “Who do you work for, son?” “I work for INS,” he answered. The attorney general whispered, “Is that one of mine?”

The INS commissioner at that time famously addressed New Yorkers in a speech: “The first thing I’m going to do is take care of the nasty Puerto Rican immigration problem!” Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.

Eighty-eight thousand U.S. Department of Homeland Security workers and 200,000 DHS contractors simply cannot clean up the mess created from the last amnesty and now, at a time when our social services are strained to the breaking point, the prisons are releasing violent felons early, the job market is tanking, and The Californian’s “view” is that the time couldn’t be better for another amnesty?

Allow me to make the assertion that it is arrogant and jingoistic to assume that all immigrants are here for a “better life” or fled their native countries. Many I talked to can’t wait to go home once they earn enough money. If money is the underlying reason for the immigration, isn’t it a little shallow of us to assume that money alone is the answer to a better life?

If it is about the money, then let’s make it fair for all. Let’s clear the backlog of immigrants, hundreds of thousands of them who have been waiting for over 10 years to move legally from places all over the world to join up with family, obtain the job that will make their life better and embrace our laws, language and citizenship.

Gregory Meinhardt of Bakersfield is a former immigration inspector at LAX; an immigration enforcement agent based in Los Angeles; senior special agent for immigration and customs enforcement at Port of Long Beach; and national program manager at ICE’s Office of Investigations, policy unit. His opinions do not reflect U.S. government viewpoints, policy, directives or legal positions. Another View is a critical response to a Californian editorial, column or news story.

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