(CNSNews.com) - A group of American Hispanics -- legal residents of the U.S. -- are blasting efforts to convert illegal immigrants into "guest workers," arguing that their own pursuit of the American dream is being impeded by the influx of illegal aliens.
"We are American citizens, we're voters. We elect our officials in office right now. Our voices need to be heard, not those of illegal aliens and their well-funded advocates," said Mariann Davies, vice-chairman of the group You Don't Speak For Me (YDSFM). Davies is the daughter of legal immigrants from Ecuador.
Davies told Cybercast News Service that YDSFM has attracted about a thousand members since it was launched earlier this year and represents the majority of Americans and American Hispanics against illegal alien rights.
YDSFM was formed by Col. Al Rodriguez in response to this year's media coverage of Latino and Hispanic "pro-immigration" rallies -- a phrase that Rodriguez said his group resents. YDSFM was angry that the rallies were portrayed as representing the position of all Latinos and Hispanics in the U.S.
In a statement on the YDSFM website, Davies indicated that she first noticed the problems in immigration control when she worked as a college volunteer during the implementation of the Immigration and Control Act of 1986. That law provided legal status to 3.1 million people who had come to the United States illegally.
"I witnessed chaotic and inconsistent paperwork for people with no documentation. It was a mess, and we now know that much of the information provided by illegal immigrants was fraudulent," Davies said.
"We also know that terrorists were also granted amnesty under the 1986 program, something that should shock and anger all Americans. We also know that all 19 hijackers from September 11 took advantage of our legal system, staying here on expired or fraudulent visas to wage their war of terror," she added.
Davies said she is outraged by more recent problems linked to the illegal immigration problem, such as the "84 hospitals that have closed emergency rooms in California" because of excessive illegal alien use and "the massive amount of public dollars that have been spent educating illegal alien students and children of illegal aliens."
According to a Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) report, the "utilization rate of hospitals and clinics by illegal aliens (29 percent) is more than twice the rate of the overall U.S. population (11 percent).
"How about social services programs that are meant for our own most vulnerable citizens?" Davies asked. "How about school districts that are overrun and having to have bilingual education and thousands and thousands of non-English speaking students who are taking resources away from the rest of the students?"
Davies said many school districts are forced to eliminate programs in arts and music "because they have so many non-English speaking illegal alien children that they have to spend the money on special services and teachers and social workers for them."
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) -- an advocacy group for Latino rights -- said YDSFM's point is not the one shared by most Hispanics and Latinos.
"The majority of Latinos do support comprehensive immigration reform," said Michele Waslin from NCLR.
Waslin favors President Bush's "guest worker" provision, which would provide many current undocumented immigrants new legal channels for working in the U.S. and an eventual path to citizenship. The U.S. Senate's version of immigration reform includes the "guest worker" provision, but the bill passed by the U.S. House does not. The House bill also calls for a fence along the U.S. border, a crackdown on alien smuggling rings and those who illegally enter the U.S. It would establish a system for employers to verify the legal status of the people they hire as well.
According to a Pew Hispanic immigration study this month, 56 percent of American Hispanics said that they would participate in a pro-immigration rally; 52 percent favored a policy that provided a path to citizenship for undocumented migrant workers; 41 percent said they thought some undocumented workers should be eligible for citizenship and only 5 percent said all undocumented immigrants should be blocked from citizenship
But Davies argued that the Senate legislation would reward illegal aliens with "amnesty" and is "not a solution to what is happening in this country."
"It is completely unfair to every single immigrant who has played by the rules, including those who have pending applications and have been waiting outside of this country for years," said Davies.
YDSFM also criticized President Bush for his approval of the bill that would allow millions of illegal aliens to remain in the country.
"The president tries to justify this, saying they are going to have to wait 11 years to go through the process," said Ira Mehlman, spokesperson for YDSFM and FAIR. "That, he says, is going to the back of the line.
"But for the people who broke the law, the back of the line forms here in this country; whereas people who have been playing by the rules, the back of the line is in some other country," he added.
State governments have stepped up their immigration enforcement, passing 57 bills this year that cut benefits for illegal immigrants and place sanctions on employers who hire them. For example:
- Georgia lawmakers passed a bill that sanctions employers who hire illegals and forces people seeking benefits to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship. The bill also mandates that police check the legal status of those they arrest;
- Colorado employers must now show that recent hires are of legal status. Colorado also banned non-emergency services to illegals;
- Louisiana's new legislation allows any state agency to investigate an employer's hiring practices if it is suspected that illegals are being hired. All employers who do not cooperate can be fined.
If more similar legislation is passed and enforced, Mehlman claims "the supply of jobs will dry up [for illegals], fewer people will come, and in fact, many people will get discouraged and decide to leave."
"That's the way you enforce laws. You make an example out of enough employers and everyone starts to get the message," added Mehlman.
But Waslin's group stated that legislation focusing on border enforcement is useless. "We have seen enforcement-only approaches for the past 20 years and they obviously have not worked," said Waslin.
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