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By Bill Costello
If someone broke into your home, would you treat him as an invited guest? Would you allow him to move in his family? Would you pay for their food, medical care, and education?
That's what we've been doing with illegal aliens in America.
But that's not how other nations deal with illegal aliens. In England, they face a $16,000 fine. In Italy, it's $14,000 and up to six months of detention. In France, it's $5,000 or up to a year of imprisonment or both.
Beyond Europe, the penalties can be even more severe. In Singapore, a jail term up to six months is accompanied by a cane whipping. In China, it's death if the offender is charged with spying.
The message is clear: Stay out unless invited.
The idea of keeping illegal aliens out is not a new one. Over 5,000 years ago, the Chinese began to build the Great Wall of China, a series of stone and earthen fortification that now stretches over 5,500 miles.
When I stood on that wall a year and half ago, I wondered why Americans could not build a 2,000 mile fence stretching the entire length of the U.S.-Mexican border when an ancient civilization had built one over twice that length.
A double-layered fence running the entire length of the U.S.-Mexican border would cost approximately $40 billion. Some say that's too expensive. But it's cheaper than the alternative.
According to a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, America spends an estimated $113 billion on illegal immigration each year. That's more than twice the cost of a fence that would protect us for many years from a flood of new illegal aliens.
But building a physical barrier is not enough; we must also build mental barriers to discourage illegal aliens from wanting to break in. There are at least three ways to accomplish this.
First, create and enforce tougher immigration laws. The only way to deter crime is with penalties.
If the only price you pay for breaking into America is to be sent back where you came from, what's to keep you from trying again? But if you have to go to prison before being sent back, then you're not likely to try again. And neither are those back where you came from once they get the memo.
The memo would also not be lost on those who are already here illegally. Many would choose to deport themselves rather than risk imprisonment.
Sanctuary cities and businesses that hire illegal aliens should also be severely penalized.
Second, turn off the magnet of welfare-state benefits that attracts illegal aliens. When illegal aliens are no longer treated as invited guests of taxpayers, they will have less incentive to break into America.
Third, stop allowing activists to control the language surrounding the debate. There is a difference between "illegal" immigrants and "legal" immigrants. Simply calling them "immigrants" is deceptive.
And pointing this out does not make you a "racist." The argument is about the rule the law, not hatred for immigrants. Throwing out red herrings doesn't move the debate along.
America is a nation of immigrants. But today's "illegal" immigrants are not the spiritual descendants of yesterday's "legal" immigrants who helped build this nation. They are less educated, less skilled, less likely to assimilate, and less likely to contribute to America's well-being. And unlike yesterday's "legal" immigrants, today's "illegal" immigrants started their American journey by breaking the law.
After we build a physical barrier and mental barriers to discourage illegal aliens from breaking into America, we must improve our legal immigration policy. Its goal should be to preserve and improve our society.
To achieve that goal, we need to be more selective about who we allow to immigrate to America. Preference should be given to highly educated and skilled professionals who have much to contribute to American innovation, job growth, and economic growth.
We got off track in 1965 with the passage of the Hart-Celler Act. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the Hart-Celler Act gave control over our immigration policy to aliens through a system of "chain migration," which "gave higher preference to the relatives of American citizens and permanent resident aliens than to applicants with special job skills."
Through family reunification, aliens are the ones deciding who comes to America. Are aliens more likely than the American people to make decisions that will preserve and improve our society?
The American people are waking up to the fact that immigration can contribute not only to the improvement of society, but also to its deterioration. And they are voicing their concerns to their elected leaders.
If our leaders are listening, they will build a physical barrier and mental barriers to discourage illegal aliens from breaking in. And they will improve our legal immigration policy.
That's the only way we can protect our home.
Bill Costello, M.Ed., is the president of U.S.-based Making Minds Matter, LLC and the author of Awaken Your Birdbrain: Using Creativity to Get What You Want. He can be reached at www.makingmindsmatter.com.