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Dear Editor:

This is in response to yesterday's letter to the editor, whcih included a link to an article favoring amnesty for illegal aliens.

Last week, the Census Bureau announced that it now estimates that the number of illegal immigrants in the US is about 8 million. This is a significant increase over previous estimates. This announcement, which got lost in the news that statistical adjustments to the Census data would not be used, has implications for amnesty and enforcement of immigration laws.

We now have a population of illegal aliens greater than the population of many states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, etc., based on 1999 Census) and equal to that of some, such as Georgia. Contrary to the assertions in the article, we have had a large increase in the number of illegal aliens since the 1986 amnesty (Now at least triple those who received amnesty in 1986). Amnesty DID NOT reduce, much less eliminate, illegal immigration. In fact, many reports in the press indicate that illegal immigrants are coming to or remaining in the US, despite the inability to find work, BECAUSE they are hoping for amnesty. Also, the 1986 amnesty increased the amount of legal immigration, as family members filed to follow. Consider the negative impact these increases have already had on schools, hospitals, etc., and THAT was when the economy was good.

Amnesty, if given, would further hinder the operations of the INS (both enforcement and service). The INS already has a record backlog of about 4 million cases. Are we to add 8 million more? Are those who have applied legally to wait even longer while the INS begins processing for those seeking amnesty? The immigration process already lacks the resources to thoroughly look at the applications it has with an eye to terrorism. Whatdo we think the impact would be with a tripling of its workload?

The economic downturn is hitting the working poor, including many illegal aliens, particularly hard. Do we want to add 8 million people (or a good many of those) to the government dole in the US? States with heavy immigrant populations such as Texas already find that their unemployment compensation funds are inadequately funded and their budgets pinched in general. The welfare net provided by the states now has gaping holes in it. Note too that official unemployment figures are usually based on applications for unemployment compensation and DO NOT INCLUDE illegal immigrants. Hence, our rising unemployment rate is already understated. Should the US citizens and legal permanent residents who have been thrown out of work have to compete with a newly legalized crop of illegal aliens for jobs?

Blanket amnesty and more limited ones, such as 245(i), allow virtually every illegal immigrant to apply for legal residency without having to undergo rigorous scrutiny in his/her home country. One terrorist was an LPR, courtesy of such a program.

Immigration laws should be enforced for everyone. Illegalimmigrants should not be favored over legal ones, as they would be with an amnesty. The article in the LTE focused on Hispanicimmigrants--but what about those (about half of illegal immigrants) from places other than Latin America? The "fairness" argument usually made by those favoring amnesty breaks down here, if you don't include ALL 8 million illegal immigrants (though amnesty is inherently unfair to those who come legally). Nor should law enforcement officials give a pass to an illegal immigrant who comes from Mexico, but detain one from the Middle East. In reality, this often happens at least in part because the federal government has limited resources and must make choices. Use of state and local police (properly trained) to supplement federal authorities would actually make enforcement more equitable.

The American people in general DO NOT support illegal immigration or amnesty (as seen in various public opinion polls)--quite the contrary. Illegal immigration has been tacitly supported and even encouraged by those who benefit most from it--employers, politicians and professional ethnics--not the public in general. It is pressure from employers and politicians which has resulted in a massive failure to enforce our immigration laws, and in the large immigrant population we now have. If employers had truly wanted this workforce--at a fair wage--they would have pushed for its LEGAL immigration (through a green card-type program) long ago. But that would have meant the employer would actually have the responsibility for the employee--not the US taxpayer.