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What if part of the headache America is having with illegal aliens could be solved simply by helping undocumented immigrants go back home?
That’s the premise of a new foundation that already has facilitated the return mostly to Central and Latin America of more than 100 people who were in the U.S. illegally. The illegal aliens had been impacted by the downturn in the economy and the resulting unemployment.
The Coalition to Protect American Workers, CPAW, says it can help in the “voluntary repatriation of illegal immigrants” from the United States for as little as $1,250 per case – far short of the estimated $17,000 it would cost taxpayers for the government to detain and deport one illegal immigrant.
The result of the group’s work is that illegal aliens no longer are competing with Americans for jobs, draining U.S. social services, posing a threat to the peace and order of communities and violating U.S. law.
CPAW was founded by philanthropist Henry Buhl, who warns that Sen. Harry Reid and the soon-to-be minority Democrats in the U.S. House plan to act immediately during the lame-duck session on the so-called DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for millions.
“There are currently between 4 to 6 million illegal immigrants working in the United States,” Buhl said in his announcement of the new effort. “A successful amnesty bill will take away desperately needed jobs for Americans.”
The organization explains it is the only fulltime humanitarian alternative to federal detention and deportation, which simply pays illegal immigrants the costs for their voluntary repatriation.
According to Politico, Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing House speaker, is planning to push for a vote between now and the end of the congressional session that would “legalize young, undocumented immigrants.”
The plans for a vote appear to be payback to Latinos who turned out in strong numbers for the 2010 mid-term elections and allowed Democrats to retain a slight majority in the Senate.
But Democrats who pursue such immigration legislation also appear to be at odds with the majority of voters.
Recent incarnations of the DREAM Act suggest the legislation would open the door to citizenship for illegal aliens if they arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 years old and if they’ve been residents for five years.
Neil Berro, a spokesman for CPAW, said his group deals with those who are in the U.S. illegally, “where they have reached a place where they are choosing to no longer stay in the United States.”
The severe economic downturn has left illegals failing in their sole reason for coming to the U.S. – to make a lot of money, he said.
As a result, he said, more and more workers are looking for a way to voluntarily return home, so at least they would be with their families.
“We’re trying to at least send a message that we care about that. We’re trying to reunify families,” Berro said.
Buhl, a philanthropist, community activist and art collector, previously started the SoHo Partnership which helps the homeless find jobs and housing as well as TriBeCa and other partnerships that address issues involving the homeless.
He also sits on the boards of the Metropolitan College of New York, Reduce Infection Deaths, Guardian Angels, Federation of American Immigration Reform and others.
Berro confirmed that the program already has helped more than 100 people – mainly from the New York area where the foundation has begun its work.
“We’re literally in a startup mode,” he said. “Our whole purpose is to start informing people and creating a grassroots movement.
“We’re not the government,” he said. “We have no stake. We just want to protect the American worker.”
Berro said the effort also has the secondary impact of informing others who may be planning an illegal entry into the U.S. in pursuit of money that that may not be a good idea.
One person returning voluntarily quickly spreads the word that American streets are not paved with gold, he said.
“Instead of living the American dream, many [illegals] live in impoverished conditions and cannot find employment. Many want to return home, but cannot because they lack resources and fear the government. Yet they would readily welcome private assistance to repatriate,” according to the website.
The website explains CPAW fully embraces legal immigration, but it is seeking referrals of illegals who are qualified to participate in a voluntary repatriation program.
“CPAW believes that illegal immigration hurts the poorest of Americans, the unemployed, the homeless, the helpless who rely on strained social services, and face excessive job competition,” according to the website. “CPAW believes it is not possible in this declining economy for unlawfully present, mostly low-wage workers, to be an economic asset. Rather, in an era of constrained or diminishing social services and low-wage jobs, such unfair competition only serves greedy employers and hurts Americans whose education, training and potential skills are limited.”
The organization has set up the website for concerned Americans to contribute to the expenses of returning illegal aliens to their home countries, Berro confirmed.
“The reality is many illegal immigrants are disenchanted after coming to the United States. The illusion of living in a country where the streets are thought to be paved with gold has become a nightmare,” according to the website.
The website cites a federal report that suggests as many as 500,000 people in the U.S. illegally want to leave the country voluntarily but need help to do it.
CPAW explains it is the only private group dedicated fulltime to the voluntary repatriation of illegal aliens from the U.S.
While this alone never will solve the U.S. illegal alien problem, it does address a portion of it, Berro said.