“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands …”

I assume those words are familiar to anybody reading this column. Surely each of us has recited them many, many times. Any citizen of this incredible nation has placed his hand over his heart and stood to pledge his love and loyalty to our flag – and also to the amazing political institution called America and the laws its people set in place.

As one of Australia’s leaders said (I’m paraphrasing), about their own problems with an influx of immigrants who are determined to live by their own imported rules, “You have been welcomed to these shores, and you were attracted by the country we have created here. But if you intend to live here, to enjoy our freedoms and blessings, but to flout and oppose our laws, expecting to set up your own rules and ignore ours – you will be asked to leave.”

Cold? Unfeeling? Heartless? Or fair and reasonable?

Well, we the people of the United States have a similar, but much larger and more complex problem. In fact, we have 12 to 15 million problems, collectively forming one of the biggest and most complex crises this country has ever faced. It’s not just the unprecedented wholesale invasion of millions of illegal aliens; it’s the billions of dollars they’re adding to our federal and local tax burdens; it’s the crowding of our hospitals and schools and transportation; and increasingly, it’s the violence and drugs and rapes that thousands of the aliens have brought with them.

Many of these millions of aliens are basically good people. They hunger for paying jobs and a better way of life … so they find ways to sneak across our borders and embed themselves in our farms, cities and communities. In his last speech in Congress, Sen. Ted Kennedy passionately cried, “These people have risked their lives to come here” – strongly implying that this entitled them to being accepted as legitimate citizens.

Immediately, the thought occurred to me, “Bank robbers risk their lives to rob banks; does this mean they should be allowed to take what they came for?” Most of us are compassionate; Americans have always been welcoming and generous and caring. But our very republic and the basic structure of our way of life are being threatened now.

The impact of the flow of illegals across the border cannot be underestimated:

  • The total cost of illegal immigration to Los Angeles County taxpayers alone exceeded $1 billion in 2008, according to a study by County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Approximately $200 million is spent on public safety, $400 million for health care and $450 million to welfare and food stamps.

  • Tax payments in illegal households are only 28 percent of other households primarily due to much lower levels in education, which subsequently results in low incomes and even lower tax payments, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
  • NumbersUSA reports that for every $1 illegal aliens contribute to Social Security, they withdraw $10 in other government benefits.
  • Illegal aliens represent a group that is a significant menace to the public. Eighty percent have committed serious crimes in addition to immigration violations, and 40 percent have violent crime histories.

  • Gang investigators have estimated that 90 percent of the members of MS-13, the most notorious immigrant gang, are illegal aliens.

Nationally, less than 2 percent of illegals are picking our crops, but 29 percent are on welfare. Over 70 percent of the U.S. annual population growth (and over 90 percent of California, Florida and New York) results from immigration. And up to 29 percent of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens. Good people though many aliens may be, these are serious, nation-threatening problems!

I’ve offered the solution before: TURN THE ALIENS INTO CITIZENS. Here’s the plan.

  1. Every last immigrant must register with the government and commit to become legal. If not, it’s back to the country from which he came.

  2. A temporary work visa must be obtained, with a definite time limit, and holders’ whereabouts routinely monitored.
  3. Taxes must be assessed on moneys received, in compliance with the established guidelines and deductions all other citizens follow. In most cases, taxes will be little, and with deductions almost nothing, just like other low-income Americans.
  4. Fines or penalties will be assessed; but, as with low-earning Americans and college students, these can be paid over time, out of earnings, perhaps on a low percentage of income basis. But breaking the law must incur penalty!
  5. The government will have to set up the processes by which the naturalization can be accomplished in two or three years maximum. American history and the English language and all our basic laws must be part of the process, as with all previous naturalized immigrants. Failure to comply will necessitate expulsion; but compliance will be rewarded.
  6. Sorry, no benefits except emergency medical care will be afforded non-citizens, especially those here illegally. But the benefits will be available upon compliance and naturalization. Just breaking in and taking benefits must not be allowed any more.
  7. Automatic citizenship to children born here to illegal parents must end. If Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t run for president because he wasn’t born here, why should children born here illegally have more rights than the governor of California? In a democracy, personal rights and obedience to the law are inseparable.
  8. Ergo … Employers who knowingly or even negligently hire and employ illegals must be punished severely for breaking the laws and bringing much of this dilemma on our country to begin with. They should be assessed the total amounts they’ve paid illegals, plus significant fines and other penalties. And then, they must pay decent wages low-income Americans, born here or not, may be attracted to. If Bernie Ebbers, Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff can be held accountable, every last employer should be too.

Now, a plan like this will be complex and initially costly, very much like the IRS, which – despite its notorious inefficiency and bureaucracy – has worked well enough to fund our huge, unwieldy government, including our unconscionable, pork-addicted Congress! Surely, if we diligently apply the same intelligence and consistent fairness to immigration, we can solve the monumental problems and actually welcome new millions of law-abiding, productive and loyal citizens.

Won’t it be nice when every American citizen can live here legally and pledge real allegiance to the same flag – and the strengthened republic for which it stands?

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