'Amnesties are not an option,' says education forum member
Click here to read the transcript of our chat with reporter Anna Marie Lux about The Gazette's three-day series "Changing Face of America."
Changing Face of America
Hispanics are changing the face of local communities. Rock County's Hispanic population more than doubled from 2000 to 2010. Walworth County's Hispanic population jumped 72 percent. Who are some of the new neighbors and what issues do they face? The Gazette looks at those questions and other topics in a three-day series. View section
Today: Immigration stories offer insight into why Mexicans left their homes.
Monday: For new immigrants, life is not always what they expect: American Dream or American nightmare?
Tuesday: A new generation of Americans talks about navigating the porous border between two cultures.
Hispanics are changing the face of local communities. Who are some of the new neighbors and what issues do they face?
Kim Olson believes the United States needs to seal its borders and strictly limit immigration.
Olson is a Janesville resident and member of the Rock County Voter Education Forum.
The group formed during Ron Paul's 2008 presidential bid. Later, it continued to meet and network with like-minded groups around the state.
"Our members, like most folks, do not like the direction our country has taken for quite a few years," Olson said. "We get together and share our viewpoints. Sometimes, we have a guest speaker, and many times we watch videos relative to our nation's problems.
"We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational organization designed to let anyone voice their concerns," Olson said.
He answered questions about his views on immigration:
Q: Why are you interested in the issue of immigration? What research have you done?
A: For me, the immigration issue has been a hot topic. I married in the Philippines, and my wife and I had to endure many struggles getting through the legal process. We see the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) as backwards and dysfunctional.
Researching this subject for the past 12 years has been a passion of mine. I've read countless publications, attended many presentations and studied everything from the demographics to the drug cartels.
Q: How important is the issue of illegal immigration to you?
A: This issue is extremely important to me. I believe that Americans deserve and desire fair and even-handed enforcement of laws governing our borders.
Our borders define us as a nation. Our national security is at risk because we have no idea who is here, why they are here or how many are here. I also believe that this fragile economy cannot sustain the growing Hispanic population.
There is a network effect when families cross the border to be with other family members. Communities with this network effect grow at remarkably rapid rates.
Q: What is the best solution for illegal immigration? Deportation, stronger border controls, amnesty?
A: We need to effectively seal the borders with fences, drones, cameras, military, and whatever else it takes. We also need to increase border management and interior enforcement. Along with that, we need to restrict the eligibility of illegal aliens to obtain public assistance and implement a nationwide system for verifying authorization to work.
Amnesties are not an option. We tried them in 1965 and 1986, and all it did was to create today's immigration nightmares. I also believe that amnesty steals from the significance of citizenship.
Our citizens overwhelmingly prefer that these folks come here legally because they are more likely to assimilate, contribute to society and be a valuable part of our citizenry when they are not living in the shadows.
Q: Why should we care about illegal immigrants in our communities?
A: If you're asking why we should care about illegal immigrants, I can say that I care about the safety, security, and rights of all individuals—legal or illegal. However, if you are asking, "Why should we be concerned about illegal immigrants in our community?" I state the following …
Outside of the fact that there is a spillover of drug violence into the U.S.—murder, kidnapping, and rapes—there are problems that are much more localized, such as social problems created by language barriers and cultural diversities. We have also been prompted to maintain the overall wellbeing of these people by educating them and providing them with food and health care. This fragile economy cannot afford to import any more of these problems.
We should care about these people, and I believe that we have gone above and beyond caring about them. My daughter has grown up with many of the children of these immigrants, and she loves them unconditionally. I believe that it's our Christian duty to care about everyone. However, it doesn't mean that we have to tolerate our government forcing this constant influx of illegal aliens draining our resources.
In other words, we can't let our constitutional laws take a back seat to our emotions. A nation can't operate—or survive—like that.
Q: What do you think should happen to the estimated 11.2 million people living illegally in the United States?
A: I think that if we take away the incentives for coming here, that many would leave on their own. This would eliminate much of the deportation process.
I want it understood that I have no animosity towards these immigrants at all, but I do have much distain for a process that exploits these folks for cheap labor and political gain. Whatever we can do, I feel we need to treat these people humanely and not separate families during any transition.
Q: Do we need tougher federal/state policies against people who are in the country illegally? Why? Would you support state legislation that would help identify people who are here illegally? Do we need laws like the ones in Arizona or Alabama?
A: No, I think we need to enforce existing laws. I believe the U.S. has a moral right to try to maintain a certain balance in our society. The citizenry has a right to know everyone who resides in this state—legally or illegally. It's not only for national security, but it's also an economic issue since our fragile economy is being drained by many.
Our federal laws are not being enforced, and these laws are nearly identical to Arizona and Alabama laws, so state laws mirroring federal laws need to be implemented. Employers need to participate in E-verify, which ensures that an employer only hires individuals authorized to work in the U.S. and protects jobs for legally entitled workers.
Q: The Hispanic population in the United States has grown significantly in the last decade, mostly because of the birthrate. How are these new Americans the same/different from European immigrants in the last century?
A: I believe that the immigrants from Europe were more willing to assimilate. They went out of their way to learn English, and there was such gratitude that history documents many kissed the ground on their arrival. They did not have any sense of entitlement, either.
Citizenship was a priority for them, and attaining that goal was a proud accomplishment for them. They felt like they were part of the American experience, and their allegiance was to America.
Too many of these new Americans do not assimilate or learn English. There is a separation that creates an unhealthy diversity. There is also a sense of entitlement, and many exploit the system. Some steal identities, claim fraudulent child credits on their income tax and use false documents to collect welfare.
This information comes from the Center for Immigration Studies, the Treasury Department and FAIR (Federation of American Immigration Reform). FAIR also states that illegal immigration costs the U.S. annually $29 billion.
Q: You have a personal story of immigration. Can you share some information about your wife, her place of birth and why she became a U.S. citizen?
A: My wife, Alma, and I got married in Manila in 1995. She was a Filipino citizen, so we had to get through all of the immigration process. It was a very long and trying process. We had to go to Manila and prove that we had a true relationship and not a fraudulent one. The letters I had written her from the U.S. were finally convincing enough.
After a couple of weeks, I had to head back to the U.S. and leave my wife behind so she could get a background check and a security clearance and convince the immigration folks there that I could support her.
This is where the problems began because I was only working part-time. Months had gone by, and at one point I got word that she was denied approval to come to the U.S.
Finally, my wife's aunt, who was a naturalized citizen from the Philippines and living in Texas, sent the embassy pictures of her successful alteration/sewing business and guaranteed them we'd be taken care of and not on government assistance. The ball was rolling again.
Finally, after 17 long months, my wife arrived in the U.S. It took a couple years from there to get her a permanent resident card. We had problems because the INS sent us the wrong paperwork, and we still had more interviews to go to in Milwaukee to prove to the INS there that we were legitimate. By then, we had a child, and I had an established job—the same one I have today.
At one point, they turned us down and were going to send my wife back to the Philippines because I couldn't produce a lease where we were living. It took a lot of time and a lot of prayers to finally straighten it all out.
All I can say is that the INS needs restructuring.
After a couple of years, a neighbor made hatefully racial remarks to my wife. She told my wife that she didn't belong in this country. That incident motivated my wife to apply for citizenship.
That was another challenge for us. However, my wife, my daughter, and I—all three of us—studied to help Alma pass the written test. It was extremely difficult, but my wife passed the test and finally got sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
It was a very touching experience, and my wife is extremely proud to be a U.S citizen.