If you think a congressional amnesty for 15 million illegal aliens is a bad idea, think about a stealth amnesty for 50 million. That’s what we’ve got now even without any new legislation from the 111th Congress.

Whether or not Obama pushes for the new amnesty – which will again be packaged as “comprehensive immigration reform” as it was in 2006 and 2007 – proponents of border security and immigration control need to look beyond that battle. We need a strategy to end the stealth amnesty created through non-enforcement of our immigration laws.

Non-enforcement is the policy of our federal government on our borders, in our employment laws, in our courtrooms and in our school buildings. Non-enforcement allows at least 2 million illegal aliens to join our society each year – a million coming across our open borders and at least another million coming on tourist visas, student visas and guest worker visas, and then never going home. Those people are called “visa overstays,” and the number is at least 20 million and growing daily.

Non-enforcement of our immigration laws needs to be called by its correct name, stealth amnesty, and it needs to be confronted. Stopping a new legislative amnesty is vital, but that does not begin to deal with the ongoing, continuous amnesty-by-stealth that is now the official policy of the federal government – and many state and local governments as well.

The Border Patrol trumpets the fact that official apprehension numbers on the border are down for the third straight year from the high of 1.1 million in 2005. That’s a good thing, but those numbers do not tell the whole story. Apprehension numbers are down in part because Border Patrol manpower has been doubled to 18,500 since 2001, and 350 miles of border fencing has been built. So, why has he Obama administration put a freeze on new fence construction and a halt to Border Patrol recruitment?

Concerned about the unstemmed flow of illegal aliens over our border? Don’t miss Tom Tancredo’s book, “In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security”

Time magazine concluded in its September 2006 cover story on cross-border traffic that three to four times as many intruders evade the Border Patrol as are apprehended. Other independent observers have come to similar conclusions. So, if the Border Patrol stopped 750,000 people in 2008, probably 2.5 million made it across the border successfully. Is that acceptable level of border security?

On worksite enforcement, the government’s record is even more appalling. The Obama administration has announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will halt enforcement raids aimed at employers and will focus only on companies that are the most egregious “exploiters” of workers.

And what about federal policy toward criminal aliens, noncitizens who commit crimes and are prosecuted in our courts? Under the Department of Homeland Security as run by Obama appointee Janet Napolitano, the federal 287(g) program that allows local sheriffs and police officers to detain illegal aliens and turn them over to ICE for deportation is being eviscerated. Under new policies, only illegal aliens already in jail will be subject to review by ICE and possible deportation. In 2007, less than 35 percent of the 300,000 illegal aliens who were booked into jails across the country were deported. We should expect that percentage to decline as local law enforcement is told to ignore illegal aliens they encounter during routine police work.

The 15 to 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. have no reason to worry about apprehension and deportation. They are enjoying the full benefits of de facto citizenship through stealth amnesty. Under the health-care reform bill being proposed by Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrat leaders, H.R. 3962, they will have access to federally subsidized health care to go along with the free education their children already enjoy by virtue of federal court rulings.

All this will continue to be federal policy even if a new amnesty is not legislated by Congress. The problem goes deeper. The problem is nonenforcement of existing laws.

To end the stealth amnesty of current law, we need three things at a minimum: true border security, mandatory verification of employment eligibility through the E-Verify program and the end to “anchor baby” citizenship for children of illegal aliens.

Over 75 percent of the American people do not want a new amnesty, and if Pelosi and Reid want to attempt it, I say, bring it on! But can we mount a campaign to reverse and undo our existing stealth amnesty? That is the real challenge ahead for citizens who want secure borders and genuine immigration reform.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.