Immigration, one side anyway, at WVRC on Feb. 1st, 2007
KEVIN BADKOUBEHI had a story, before he led the Pledge. Next up was LENNY, who strode forward fearlessly to lead an A Cappella (that means no accompanying music and we insert these explanations for anyone who may be culturally deprived, or whatever). The song was You’re a Grand Old Flag. PP STEVE SCHERER was next, with the Invocation. But before that, he asked that we consider making three days out of each week to be worry-free. This of course led to the obvious question, Which Days? The answer, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow! “Bless this food to our use, and use to your service”. Good stuff, STEVE.
There were guests. MARK ROGO brought his Dad, Mort, who has been with us before. CURT SMITH was with John Joannes, an Immigration Attorney. SEEMA PATEL, our Rotaract President, brought Seven Gardner, who runs their website. BRIAN BUMPAS honored his wife, Patricia, and they will be celebrating their 65th Anniversary soon! He followed this with the announcement that he had found another Hamilton High School graduate BARRY MARLIN. This was followed by a couple of Announcements:
The Sweetheart Brunch is Saturday, Feb 10th and tab is $50, despite an attempt by an unnamed miscreant (I think that means questionable character) to mistakenly lower it to just $45.00 in a publication which shall also go unnamed, in order to preserve identities…
MARK ROGO reminded us that this Saturday is the Westwood Library Book Sale, and since you won’t get this before then, we here publicly thank MARK for his good work!
I rose to a point about MONEY. Today I collected only 25 bucks for parking at St. Albans Church across the street. I don’t think that is correct this is because, and I hate to put anyone on the spot, but somebody ain’t paying. It’s up to everyone who uses the lot to pay me, and I cannot believe there were only five WVRC members who used the lot today. Enough of the lecture send money, OK?
The Abe Lincoln Remembrance will be on Saturday, Feb 10th , 11 am at the Veteran’s Cemetery off Sepulveda if you are missing our Brunch, take it in it’s good.
This deserves its own paragraph:
PP JIM COLLINS is to be presented with the City of Angels Award from the Chamber of Commerce on February 13th, Tuesday, noon at the LAX Marriott. This is well-deserved, so mark your calendars, please.
The Joke (shades of a certain PP, whose first name is ERIC, which of course preserves his full identity…):
A man was called to testify before the IRS. In preparation, he sought advice from several sources. First, what to wear? And a range of suggestions were made. He then asked his Rabbi, who gave him more conflicting advice. “Let me tell you a story. A man and woman were about to be married and the woman sought advice from her Mother “Wear something that covers you from head to toe”. Her best fried advised, “Wear the sexiest nightie you have”. So the advice-seeker asked, “But, what does this have to do with my IRS problem?” “No matter what you do, you're going to get scr..."
SHANE WAARBROEK introduced our Speaker, Ira Mehlman. He is the Media Director of FAIR (Federation of American Immigration Reform). Their Federation was established in 1979, and they have more than 75,000 members. Mr. Mehlman has appeared on all the local radio and TV stations, in addition to placing articles in the LA Times, the Washington Post, etc.
Mr. Mehlman began by reminding us that politics has many recycled ideas, and his subject is one of them. While the political leadership has changed recently, the American public attitudes about Immigration remains relatively stable. It has joined such topics as Iraq, healthcare, and the economy as a ‘hot topic’. It has become so all over the U.S., instead of being of importance only in California. As an example, just this year there were massive demonstrations all across the country, raising awareness of this issue.
But what you didn’t see was the public perception of these demonstrations. The phone banks in Washington were ringing off the hook, demanding that Congress not give in to the ideas expressed in these gatherings. President Bush, in his recent State of the Union speech, again stated his ideas about what should be done. The statistics are that about a million people a year are being admitted as legal immigrants and it is estimated that that same number are coming in illegally. That’s a total of two million immigrants the same number as the population of Houston, Texas, for instance. That means, we are absorbing a population the size of Houston each year into the U.S.
With or without our recognition of these numbers, we are making certain commitments. We will educate these new arrivals hospitals will expand to provide care for those who cannot pay. While it is sometimes described as controversial, surveys show that perhaps 80% of citizens agree that we do need a rational immigration policy. There are both winners and losers from the current jumble of policies. But people come here because they believe they will be better off by doing so. There are of course major employers, who see immigrants as a source of subsidized labor. As an example, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, half the kids entering the Los Angeles Unified School District do not speak English. Much of the crime is centered in the immigrant neighborhoods - gangs, etc. It is estimated that a typical illegal immigrant earns perhaps $300 per week - double that in a year for a family, and the taxes they pay do not cover the services they receive - schools, hospitals, etc.
What do we do about the problem? The program advocated by President Bush, which has not really changed since he came into office, would allow an amnesty program for the twelve to twenty million illegal immigrants here now. As Senator Alan Spector acknowledged, "The devil is in the details". Many problems simply aren't answered. Will all these people receive Security Background checks, for instance? What costs can we expect to provide schooling and health services for all these people? The bill has been passed, but is not yet funded - and that includes the idea of a long fence along the border with Mexico. Apparently this new group will get at the end of the line of present applicants. However, they must pay a fine when they are finally cleared - and the amount suggested, to cover all past unpaid taxes, etc, is $2,000! That's a deal most of us would be glad to accept.
The Congress and Senate are now controlled by the Democrats, and they favor the idea of amnesty, buy they don't like the Guest Worker Plan. Something has to give here - and Mr. Mehlman suggests that we should be suspicious of anything on which the President and Senator Ted Kennedy can agree. However, the Democrats realize that some areas of Immigration are not palatable to the electorate, so nothing is really likely to be put into effect here. The circumstances remind him of our getting into the Iraq War - our original plan was OK, but we didn't consider what came next, and this seems to apply to Immigration Policy.
One thing we need is a foolproof ID Card for Social Security. This is possible with present technology. In addition, we must enforce the law that penalizes those who hire illegal immigrants - once their neighbors see this, they will take notice, and the practice will rapidly decrease. In other words, we must make it less attractive to come to the U.S. - if the jobs aren't there, people will quit coming. We must increase the cooperation between local and federal law enforcement personnel. We have to examine the present system which says if you are born here, you are a citizen - this was put into effect after the Civil War, to be sure slaves became free, but this is certainly no longer a justification. In summary, we need a system that benefits the present citizens of this country.
Brief Q&A, and I'm sorry I cannot identify the sources. I said I have a friend who was deported, and he was back within six weeks - why would that change? If there weren't jobs, he wouldn't try to return. Wasn't there a law on the books to penalize those who hire illegal workers? Yes, but it is not enforced, and probably won't be under present circumstances. What percent of illegal immigrants are Latino? Probably about 80%. Has there been a study of the economic impact of denying immigrants these low paying jobs? These low paying jobs are subsidized by what we pay in taxes, and wages would rise, apparently.
Ira Mehlman, thanks for giving us your viewpoint. To be fair, we ought to hear the other side, somehow.