Splitting Hairs by Ira Schwartz

Ira Schwartz
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Those famous words, part of a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, are inscribed on a plaque mounted on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York. For decades The Statue of Liberty was usually the first thing refugees and hopeful immigrants saw as their boat entered New York harbor and the waters of the United States. The United States of America was always known as the one place down trodden and persecuted peoples from around the world could come for a new start. Most of you reading this article are decedents of immigrants. Immigrants built this country and made it into the greatest country in the world. Most people don’t know the United States naturalizes more people per year than all the countries of the world combined. A record 1,046,539 persons were naturalized as U.S. citizens in 2008 alone. It is our differences that have always made us strong and unique in the world. But as I continue please do not confuse “Legal Immigrants” who took the time and effort to become a legal American citizens with those “Illegal Immigrants” that take the fast and dangerous track into this country. So why has illegal immigration suddenly rocketed to the forefront of today’s news headlines?
Economics. According to the National Research Council illegal immigrants cost taxpayers 346 billion dollars annually. California’s cost according to F.A.I.R. is $10.1 billion. As our cities here in America scramble to balance failing budgets and cut corners they can no longer afford to take such hits especially those of us who live in the Border States; Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, who take the brunt of the costs.
In an article titled Criminal Alien Nation, by Edwin Rubenstein, criminal illegal aliens are a growing threat. In summary, he reports:

“In 1980, our Federal and state facilities held fewer than 9,000 criminal aliens but at the end of 2003, approximately 267,000 illegal aliens were incarcerated in U.S. correctional facilities.” The figure is estimated at double that today. “The article goes on to state that in fiscal 2004, the Federal govt. spent $1.4 billion to incarcerate criminal aliens, 75% of that cost to be picked up by the local jurisdiction. It is worth noting that all the incarceration costs are ultimately paid for by the taxpayers.”

It gets worse.
An interim report from the House Committee on Homeland Security, A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border details the criminal activity and violence taking place along the Southwest border and notes that the region has been experiencing “an alarming rise in the level of criminal cartel activity, including drugs and human smuggling. The report notes that in 2005, Federal drug seizures were a total of 1,129,275 pounds of cocaine and 6,866,465 pounds of marijuana. Most of that was along the southern border. Additionally, the report further states that Federal law enforcement estimates that only 10-30% of illegal aliens are actually apprehended and only 10-20% of the drugs are seized.
The Department of Justice’s latest National Drug Threat Assessment says there were 267 kidnappings in Phoenix last year and 299 in 2008. The report said the victims usually have a connection to immigrant smuggling groups or drug traffickers. The report also showed that assaults against U.S. law enforcement on the southwestern border are on the rise. The report found that the number of attacks on Border Patrol agents increased 46 percent to 1,097 incidents in fiscal 2008. The report said the assaults were mostly related to immigrant smuggling. Together, Arizona, California and Texas are now home to 4.7 million of the 11 million illegal immigrants the Department of Homeland Security estimates are in the country.
Pretty sobering stuff to say the least. For those of us who live in and around the Los Angeles area here are some additional numbers provided by Heather MacDonald in a 2004 article, The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave:
• In Los Angeles, 95% of some 1,500 outstanding warrants for homicides are for illegal aliens. About 67% of the 17,000 outstanding fugitive felony warrants are for illegal aliens.
According to Arizona Senator Russell Pierce, the author of Arizona controversial Immigration Law, 87% of all the Peace Officers murdered in Arizona were killed by illegal immigrants. Is it any wonder Arizona decided to act. This is the heart of the Arizona Immigration law that has stirred up the country. Section 1. B & C.
B. For any lawful contact stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation. Any person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released. The person’s immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States code section 1373(c). A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution. A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:

1. A valid Arizona driver license.

2. A valid Arizona no operating identification license.

3. A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.

4. If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification.

C. If an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States is convicted of a vio
lation of state or local law, on discharge from imprisonment or on the assessment of any monetary obligation that is imposed, the United States immigration and customs enforcement or the United States customs and border protection shall be immediately notified.
Pretty cut and dry stuff. But what will this law really do?
Will it prevent the flow of Illegal Immigrants into the United States. NO. This law does not give local authorities the right to patrol the border.
So all this law will really do is allow local and state law enforcement to ask for proof of citizenship AFTER the person has already been stopped for a crime then detain them. So basically this law is reactionary not preventative. What this law will do is put added pressure on local law enforcement. It will cause more paperwork and keep law enforcement officials from doing the jobs they are supposed to do….be on the streets, protecting Arizona citizens. If the projected numbers are correct and this law actually goes into effect, Arizona’s local jails and prisons will be heavily overcrowded. And who pays for all of this? You guessed it…the taxpayers of Arizona.
One begins to wonder the real reason behind placing such a law on the books. As I said earlier it does nothing to prevent Illegal Immigration and will put a huge financial burden on a state already suffering from the economic firestorm. So why do it? The answer is simple, to bring what is essentially a Southwestern States problem to the attention of the rest of the country. And to embarrass the Federal Government into actively enforcing laws already on the books. If that is what the governor and lawmakers of Arizona were after they are succeeding but if they were interested in writing a law that would stem the tidal wave of Illegal Immigration then they will fail horribly.
So what’s to be done?
The Federal Government needs to put some of the paid back billions of the TARP money into I.C.E., hire more agents and shut down the crossings. They need to make Mexico understand that they are a partner in this and they need to actively attack this problem from their side. If they refuse they need to be reminded that AFTA can be cancelled as quickly as it was signed. As far as amnesty for those already in this country illegally? Our government needs to realize that giving lawbreakers a “free ride” does nothing but prompt more illegal immigration.
Over the last few weeks I have heard several news networks reporting Civil Rights Advocates saying that most of the illegal immigrants are not criminals and are law abiding people. Maybe most are good people but if you are in this country illegally you are committing a Federal crime, therefore all illegal immigrants are criminals. They also complain it takes too long to become an American citizen. Truth be told once you file your application for citizenship it can take anywhere from five months to two years before your interview. Then if you’re approved the swearing in ceremony can take anywhere from one week to 180 days. The total cost is $595.00 but, you must have had a valid green card and been a legal alien therefore for five years prior. Maybe our lamp is not as bright as it used to be and our golden door a bit tarnished but I don’t think waiting two years or spending $595.00 is a bad price to pay for the privilege to vote without fear, practice your religion in peace and the right to speak you mind freely. If some still think the waits too long, wait till they have to go to the DMV.
© 2010 by Ira Schwartz. Used with Permission. All Rights Reserved.

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19 Responses to Splitting Hairs by Ira Schwartz

  1. Deborah A. Cook on May 17, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Very well said Ira, bravo. It serves no good to reactive as opposed to proactive. We can waste good taxpayer dollars for many years to come sending them back only to have them return through this open gate called the border. I concur 100% with your solution in where best we should be focusing our energies and our dollars, at the source. Yes this new law sheds a bright light on the problem but it serves little or no good at attacking the problem. If all the border States adopt such legislature the costs to the taxpayers could become astronomical all for naught. It would just produce a revolving door never resolving the real issue.

  2. Anonymous on May 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm


    Well here we go for another civil chat on some not so civilized issues. Let me start by saying that I enjoyed that and I look forward to your blogs.
    O.K…Now the world according to Bruce.
    Yes, anyone here illegally is a criminal no matter if they like the way it sounds or not.
    Where I disagree or don't totally agree is where you said "So basically this law is reactionary not preventative".
    This is where you lose me…every law on the books in America is put there to stop someone from doing something! If it's against the law you have to weigh the situation based on the consequences that follow.
    That's how it all works!
    That's also kind of like saying why stop someone after they robbed the bank? They already have the money!
    Yes they do and upon stopping them that money magically transforms from being a potential new Caddy Escalade to being the evidence that puts them in prison (where they belong). Why do people not rob banks when they are broke and need money? Because they know it's against the law and the penalties are stiff for breaking that law. So I'm saying that creating a new device to catch already law breaking Aliens is not just reactionary and does serve a purpose. I feel all the steps you mentioned should be put forward as well but this law is not wrong!
    I would like to add one more thing regarding the process of "LEGAL" immigration. I know you have all seen this but let me set the table once more…
    "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

    These "Illegal" aliens have no use for these words. They don't come here to be an American. They come here to be whatever they are and to grab up as many free programs and state funds as they can get. They have no respect for America and if it’s possible they have even less respect for Americans.
    They fly their country’s flag on their house as well as in the form of bumper stickers and wear jackets and T-Shirts that make it clear what their origin was. They don’t want to be Americans…they want what Americans have. The secondary problem is they have no use or respect for the other side of coin. They want to side step the law any way they can and still be protected under our citizenship laws. In other words they are only interested in the laws that get them something and don’t care at all about the ones that keep us honest.
    I can walk out the door right now and show you a train load of these people. They are not hard to spot and while I guess some of them are actually legal they don’t act like Americans and if you saw them somewhere other than here you would never know that they were Americans because they are WAY more proud of where they came from than where they are!

    Bruce Carson

  3. Ira on May 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I agree with almost everything you have said Bruce except the part about the law doing good. The law, if it stands, will only as Debbie said, cause a revolving door where we catch them, deport them, only to have them sneak back across to do it all again. The problem isn't catching them, the problem is keeping them out in the first place and that involves policing the border. That is not covered in this law. This law is a band aid on a bleeding artery and will never really show any kind of positive response. Funny that you used that quote by Teddy. I just came across it on the web. I am always amazed at how history can teach us how to handle present circumstances. The problem is our politicians don't have the brains to know how to use it. Thanks again Bruce.


  4. Anonymous on May 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Some what true Ira but with a reported 11 million already here which in reality is more like 22 million I beg to differ…I think catching them is the hard part. I may have botched the response because my real point should have been that "BOTH" systems should be in place with neither really working 100% with out the other. My bad!
    And also, I hear nothing from my friends here about what to do about the 11 to 22 million that are already here. Any suggestions?
    Oppss…one more thing. Not only is the police dept. in Arizona being accused of Nazi type interrogations before they even start…we also don't give the state of Arizona credit for handling their own finances. We keep talking about the costs and burden on the police. Well, they probably thought of that too and I'm sure they know exactly what the illegals are costing them as compared to the added expense of this new law. Having said that though…you are right about needing to plug the hole in the boat before you start bailing…
    It's just very clear to me that our Government is waiting to come up with an "EASY" solution so it won't get in the way of their unlimited spending on useless and wasteful issues.

    Bruce Carson

  5. Frank T. DeMartini on May 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Let me put a little fire on this argument. There is a currently a major party member running for the governorship of Alabama. He is running an ad in which he says the following in substance: "If I'm elected governor, I will only put one language on Driver's License tests and applications, English. If you want to be in Alabama, learn English or go somewhere else."

    Is this going too far? Or, is it just showing, how angry the populace is that an ad like this can be utilized. By the way, he is ahead in the polls.

  6. Anonymous on May 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Where is the Hollywood Republican when we need them? A huge election day approaches us tomorrow on 5/18/2010, consumed by passion, rhetoric, issues of importance, patriotic substance, politics as usual in the important states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

    Greece is now considering suing us for its debt problems. It just seems to some of us that micro issues are more important than macro issues.

    And then someone offered the next observation that I found enlightening.

  7. Anonymous on May 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    In navigating the waters of these mostly excellent blogs one is often distracted, disappointed and maybe unjustifiably disenchanted with the often subtle difference between what is delivered and what was expected, that which was originally believed to be promised of and by the Hollywood Republican. You are much better, your literate skills and talents being excellent, than I, but even I find something missing. Or maybe I just feel unrequited in my longing for an innovative relative wisdom.

    Look to William F Buckley Jr, for my reason and season of discontent. The hypothesis is a conservative political or even theological (the atheist may take issue here) orientation advocating the reemergence, resurgence and preservation of the good, the best in society and a tireless opposition to radical, wrong, changes.

    What is missing or I have not found is the magic of scholarly erudition, that process that allows digestion and contemplation while simultaneously smoothing away all raw, untrained incivility. And please include a generous portion of wit and uncommon words. Man’s capacity to learn is infinite.

    One has uncovered the world of escribitionist, the arena that embraces bloggers and commentators who essentially are blogging about themselves. Not bad but there is a higher calling. There seems to be way too much information about people, personal experiences and an economy of universal and existential ideas. What some of us may be looking for are authors and commentary that engage in a sort of journalism, world wide reporting on and in depth experimental uniqueness (the treasure of present day philosophers) political commentary centering on republicanism and conservatism, after all this is a global world.

    Some of us are hungering for a current reaffirmation (with a minor footing in currentism) of conservative beliefs, possibly revisiting original concepts that have successfully shaped our nation in the past, our basic natures through the direction of our existence, the lives that we have chosen to live and remolded them to fit today’s reality.

    What we have are marvelous essays that speak to meaningful ramblings of discontent propped up by framed commentary of individuals, almost always the same, who once calibrated are predictable. I yearn for that occasional hopefully repeated experience of “I never thought of that” and now I must.

    The original “thread” is rarely pursued to exhaustion, or interrupted with any meaningful originality, as it splinters and forks its way into personal biases, justified or not, that rarely challenges a new and original development of thought.

    This is much less a criticism, valid or not, than a prayer to open the thought process into leaving behind old experiences and challenges of our human existence and spirit out to search newer, higher visions of the classical “what if and why not.” For all of man’s existence we looked at the moon until, within our life time, someone said “Let us go there.”

    Some of us are tinkering around the edges of a category some refer to as cyberbullies. We wish to impose and not create. Some of us are deep thinkers of things that are, some are great journalistic commentators who enrich the discussion with their own life’s experience, and some are even self appointed professors who will edit, correct, approve or disapprove of almost everything that is offered. But where are the special ones who would take us off in a new and unexplored direction, in search of excellence, that inspires awe?

    How do we leave behind, again, the redundant England of our current ideas and forge a new and better America? We are looking to be lead out of imposed stagnant ignorance. We look to be lifted up by a William F Buckley Jr. scholarly type where “an erudite person has both deep and broad familiarity with certain subjects, often gained through study and extensive reading of the subject’s literature rather than formal scholarship”, certainly an unfair burden.

    y hat is off to you folks for you have stirred my soul and must suffer my dilemma.

  8. Ira on May 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for the comment anonymous

  9. Craig Covello on May 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Ira: Great read. I have been in Boston all week for my oldest son's graduation from Boston U Law. Its hard to keep up on the web while traveling, but I'm grad I kept up on A Hollywood Republican. Your article was very informative. I had no idea that incarcerated illegals jumped from 9K to half a million. That alone is probably one of the most important points you made. Its obvious that the progressives in power have no trouble selling this nation out in return for more votes, from any source. Thanks for bringing these sobering numbers into light. FYI, Eric Holder spoke at the BU Law graduation. Look for my article and video later this week on the Obama White House Diaries.

  10. Anonymous on May 18, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I fear our Government has every intention of granting amnesty to every one of them. Why? Because it's the coward's way out and that is what they consistently act like…cowards.
    To roll up their sleeves and handle this problem the way they should handle it would be so out of character for those guys it’s not funny. They are more likely to plot a scheme to fool the American people into thinking they did something good when in reality when it’s all said and done they slipped out of their responsibilities like always and accomplished nothing in the process.
    If in the worst case scenario our Government does play the Amnesty game and we can’t stop it we should make the following demands for the future.
    a) Any illegal that accepts amnesty for being over here illegally becomes a limited citizen only. Meaning they have no right to vote (nothing for the politicians to get now) and their children's birth certificates should read "Limited Citizen born to illegal parents in the United States of America" And they should not be able to vote either. If they want to vote then they have to leave the country and come back through the system like they should have in the first place.
    b) No more anchor baby program. All women giving birth in America while here illegally are sent back with child to Mexico and a bill will be sent to the Mexican Government for hospital care. The bill will be paid yearly with any seized drug money, property or anything else caught coming or going over the Mexican border illegally.
    I don’t want Amnesty to ever be the answer but it’s the easy way out and since the taxpayers will be the ones who suffer (as usual) they should have no problem with it.
    Also, go to the FB page against the Arizona law and look at the posts there. The people or Sheeple as a friend of mine calls them are without a clue. They act like they don’t see any difference between legal and illegal immigration at all. They say “ I thought this country was built by immigrant” or “No human is an alien” or America belongs to God and they are God’s people”.
    I love the Mexican people and have gone there and built houses for the homeless and so on but this is wrong and the color of the skin doesn’t make it right.


  11. Anonymous on May 18, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Here is something to think about. I would like everyone posting here to watch this video.


  12. Anonymous on May 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    From: "David LaBonte"
    | My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined. Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:
    | Dear Editor:
    | So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.
    | Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.
    | They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.
    | Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany , Italy , France and Japan . None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan . They were defending the United States of America as one people.
    | When we liberated France , no one in those villages were looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.
    | And here we are with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country.. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.
    | And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty , it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.
    | (signed) Rosemary LaBonte

    Now this is something worth thinking about. Thank you Rosemary.

  13. Ira on May 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Nicely said Rosemary and very true.

  14. Anonymous on May 19, 2010 at 2:46 pm


    That was great! I feel exactly the same way.
    This is why I said "These people are a lot more proud of where they came from than where they are".
    I guess there's a huge difference between traveling half way around the world on a cold leaky ship for a chance to be free and live as an American as apposed to hopping a broken down fence and as soon as your feet hit the ground demanding everything the Country has to offer and none of which you deserve.


  15. Anonymous on May 22, 2010 at 4:14 am

    The current Financial Reform Bill passing through congress is an excellent example of how we are being distracted with the divisive emotion of immigration issues as our constitutional rights; liberties and freedom are being systematically eroded. Watch as our private financial information, bank accounts, IRS returns, mortgage information, business partnership documents become public information, information certainly intended to be use to confiscate fines, penalties and premiums for…oh, lets just start with ObamaCare. Watch as the IRS, in a stealth move, will silently begin to withhold mandated insurance fines and premiums as the government swallows more of the fruits of our inalienable rights.

    As some have hinted to in this blog, the issue is not about immigration, the smoke screen, an issue adequately, detailed and honestly editorialized in this blog. If anything was missing here it was the Federal arrogance, ignorance and posturing while suggesting that “our Federal Government” would not abide by its constitutional obligation to enforce Federal law. It is difficult, if not impossible to find a state, California included, even with its arrogant stance on sanctuary cities, to find a state that does not have immigration laws equal to or tighter than the Arizona mandates.

    Immigration, although very important, but disproportionately inflamed with bogus distractions, when compare to national and sovereign rights, is crowding out attention on the priority issues that deal with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Socialism is the issue here.

    And if one wants to research the probable, in the final analysis, effects of the current Financial Reform Bill, the draconian effects of unintended consequences when “we pass the Bill so we can know what is in it”, we can start with the following observation and essence of the complete article.

    “In a statement issued yesterday, Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue minced no words: "If you want to drive capital out of the United States, this is your bill. This process was about political sound bites rather than sound economic policy."”

    See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/94oQW9

  16. Ira on May 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

    My pleasure….hope you keep reading. Thanks Ira.

  17. lupeconstantine9641 on May 23, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ...........................

  18. Anonymous on May 28, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for sharring importent information in this blog.
    It was very nice.

  19. Emmaline Gallaway on March 18, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Wow, we’re totally jazzed that the shuttle ultimately blasted off. However, I admit I’m disappointed that the space shuttle program is finally finishing up. NASA’s future plan doesn’t really look as exciting as the shuttles.

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