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Monday, Sep. 1, 2014

Forgotten issue may prove costly

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do you find it troubling that the controversial issue of illegal immigration has not been a part of the presidential campaign? To the best of my limited memory, not one single question concerning immigration has surfaced in any of the three presidential debates and not one headline has explored the positions of each candidate on illegal immigration.

Do you wonder why this deafening silence?

There was a slight question this weekend of Barack Obama's stance on granting drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants but the issue found no traction. The candidates' positions on government benefits to illegal immigrants, on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, on paying health benefits and college tuition to illegal immigrants - not one of these questions has surfaced during this election year.

Much of this silence is the result of a flagging economy that has dominated all discussion. History will surely show the timing of this financial meltdown was perhaps the greatest benefit to the Obama campaign of any issue in American history. And with the economy foremost of our minds, it's easier to ignore the sticky and uncomfortable question of illegal immigration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that she hoped to tax retirement benefits to help pay for the cost of improving government services to illegal immigrants. That stunning announcement would normally generate a host of heated discussion. Yet her big government program caused nary a ripple.

Illegal immigration under a McCain presidency will be a forgotten issue. Under an Obama presidency it will come to the forefront with more programs to provide more government assistance for our newcomers who cross the Mexican border. Their numbers will increase as will the price tag for providing costly government services.

And still the issue falls without discussion despite polls that show the American public is overwhelmingly in favor of a much tougher stance on illegal immigration.

Had the economy not tanked at this particular time, we would be talking more about the war and health care and illegal immigration. But those talking points have taken a back seat to the economic woes that dominate all discussion.

Is it important to discuss the cost of educating millions of youngsters with limited English skills? Is it important to explore the cost of providing health care to 12 million illegal immigrants? Is there no interest in debating the growing gang warfare in some urban communities involving illegal immigrant gangs? Is there not one single merit in examining the cultural erosion that will occur when such a large population decides that assimilation is unimportant?

Maybe we have bigger fish to fry. And because of the economic concerns the issue of illegal immigration has been relegated to the shadows. But it's easy to predict that in the not too distant future we will regret that this issue was not part of the presidential vetting process. I suspect that in the long run, illegal immigration may well be a more costly factor than our current economic slide.