Illegal immigration needs to be prevented

Guest Column by Mavis Sayman Korsman

What makes America different from other countries of the world is its tremendous diversity. America is not exactly a “melting pot,” so much as it is more like a “stir fry” of people from all over the world of various races, cultures, ethnicities and nationalities. Indeed, millions of people emigrate to the Land of Opportunity every year to pursue the American dream.

Unfortunately, many of these immigrants come here illegally. There are 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the United States according to an estimate from the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington. As a legal immigrant, I believe that it is unfair that so many enter illegally, while legal applicants have to wait a long time, if they even get in at all.

According to the State Department, each year the United States allows 50,000 people to immigrate via a diversity lottery system from countries which are underrepresented in the regular visa entry process. The applicants are chosen from the pool of nine million applicants for the coveted slots, meaning that less than one percent actually succeed. However, another 1 million immigrants come each year, through various work-related visas or through family connections.

For those with a spouse or fiancé who is a U.S. citizen (as in my own case seven years ago), the waiting period for entry is only about a year. For others, the wait can be extremely long depending upon the applicant’s home country.

For example, for Filipinos, the waiting period for a sibling who is petitioned by a U.S. brother or sister is currently 23 years. This is because of the large amount of Filipinos applying to come to America.

The result is a great big waiting list for that country. As we say back home, “Para kang nakapasok sa butas ng karayom pag nakapunta ka ng Amerika (Getting to America is like passing through the eye of a needle.)”

Compare that 23 years to the fast entry that illegals get when they sneak into this country. Then when they get here, they not only take away jobs from Americans, but they also empty tax payers’ pockets through the burdens they put on our social services.

Under federal law, emergency rooms are required to stabilize anyone who comes in with a life-threatening case, regardless of his or her immigration status or ability to pay. As a practical matter, however, since they do not have health insurance, illegal aliens seek treatment at emergency rooms for even their routine health care. Many hospitals are not turning these people away, according to a San Francisco State University study.

In addition to health care expenses incurred, the education of illegal aliens’ children costs taxpayers $52 billion per year, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Of course, educating our own citizens is important, but why should taxpayers foot the bill for illegals?

A number of states have tried various ways to reduce the numbers of illegal aliens. In 2010, Arizona passed a law requiring police to determine the status of people if there is reasonable suspicion that they are illegal immigrants, and to arrest people who cannot provide documentation that they came here legally. Just last month, Alabama took things further, requiring that educators “card” students to prove their citizenship.

Yes, some of these laws may seem extreme, but what else can states do to keep illegals out, when the federal government is not doing enough to protect our borders?

While Arizona and Alabama are trying to reduce the numbers of illegals in their states, it appears that California is trying to attract more of them, having just passed the “Dream Act,” which allows illegal immigrants enrolling in college to be eligible for state scholarships and financial aid next July. That will require millions of taxpayer dollars, further contributing to California’s financial mess.

Having states make their own laws on illegal immigration is indeed creating a complicated patchwork of laws nationwide. Rather than discouraging people from illegally entering the US, such varied laws just result in them moving around from one state to another. We need one uniform federal law, sealing the border, by increasing the number of border patrols.

As an immigrant to America, myself, I just ask that we keep it legal. Illegal immigrants should get in line and wait, just like everybody else who wants to come to America and apply for legal entry. America takes in over one million new immigrants each year.

Yes, the wait times are long for applicants from certain countries. But one million is a fair number to add to the wok to keep this country the best stir fry in the world.