Walter Rodgers

Illegal Hispanic immigration is undermining American values

Illegal immigration is causing an influx of Hispanics who don't embrace American values.

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Walking the sandy beachfront in this ultra-affluent city, I chanced upon two Hispanic men rummaging through the trash. Startled at the sight, I stared momentarily. One of them yelled at me, “You look now, but in 50 years we will own all this!” Given the tsunami of illegal immigration and the prolific Hispanic birthrate, I responded, “I believe you will.”

US Census statistics suggest the scavenging man was right. California, now about 37 percent Latino, is expected to be majority Hispanic by 2042. A quarter of all Americans will probably be Latino in 40 years.

This trend has worrisome aspects. Imagine a huge, growing Hispanic underclass in America with a grudge, a burning sense of having been victimized by the “gringos.”

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I witnessed this grudge up close a few years ago at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. Hispanic students challenged me, claiming any restriction of illegal immigration across the US southern border with Mexico is a violation of Latinos’ human rights.

Me: “Would you try to reenter Spain without a passport?

Students: “Of course not.”

Me: “What about France, or Britain?”

Students: “No.”

Yet many of these illegal Latino immigrants suffer the illusion they are divinely entitled to colonize the US – and not just the states bordering Mexico, but Chicago and the East Coast as well.

Some Hispanics talk openly of a reconquista, an effort to reclaim the American Southwest that once belonged to Mexico.

Historically, this concept is wide of the mark. Most Hispanic ancestors of immigrants owned no land. Their forebears were serfs of the Roman Catholic Church, once the largest landholder in Latin America and the world. Other ancestors labored as landless peons for Spanish colonial landlords who were later relieved of their lands by 19th-century Anglo-Americans.

Historical entitlement is but one of the myths surrounding illegal Hispanic immigration. Gringos have their own fables, such as ultimate assimilation into a greater English-speaking society.

Professor Lawrence Harrison of Tufts University in Medford, Mass., notes that “In California, fourth- and fifth-generation Mexican immigrants are still speaking only Spanish and resisting assimilation.” He says there are serious cultural barriers to the old melting-pot concept. “Words like compromise and dissent, crucial concepts to American democracy, have radically different meanings in Spanish.” Dissent, for example, translates into “heresy.”

Most alarming, today’s influx of poor Latin American immigrants comes from countries less than congenial to democracy, a law-based society, or public education. Many experts look with alarm on the fact that, unlike earlier European and Asian immigrants, the tsunami from the south too often undervalues educating children because many Hispanic parents resent the idea that their children will have more education than they have. In 2000, only 25 percent of working-age male Mexican immigrants had graduated high school, a sad fact that contributes to an increasingly volatile underclass.

Limited legal Latino immigration greatly enriches the United States. I’ve personally seen how Hispanic Americans bring tremendous loyalty and leadership qualities to our armed forces

But it is morally shameful to expect taxpayers to fund free education and medical care for lawbreakers so that the wealthiest Americans – restaurant owners, ranchers, agribusiness owners, and construction companies – can hire cheap labor regardless of the national consequences.

It is ever the wealthy sticking it to the poor. With so many Americans losing their homes and unable to find jobs, it is outrageous to say Hispanics still take jobs no one else will do.

Congress, which generally represents the wealthy, should begin by imposing huge fines on affluent Americans who hire illegals. Start with the millionaires in my neighborhood, who don’t mow their own lawns or baby-sit their children and instead hire immigrants who are almost certainly illegal.

Businessmen are bonkers if they think opening US borders to allow the free flow of uneducated labor will make America competitive with a burgeoning Chinese economy.

Naive American liberals need to stop trilling over Emma Lazarus’s “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses….” World population was 1.5 billion when she penned those lines. It now approaches 7 billion. America is not a dumping ground for the rest of the world’s surplus population.

Committing national suicide is not without precedent. The Dutch are rapidly losing their country. Before long, its largest cities will belong to Muslim immigrants. What then becomes of the liberal tradition of Erasmus and traditional Dutch tolerance?

Illegal immigration may ultimately be more threatening to the character and values of the US than any threat from radical Islamists. It’s not about tribe; it’s about the law.

Walter Rodgers, a former senior international correspondent for CNN, writes a biweekly column.

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