Editor: Here is the first in our series of position papers from Centennial Institute's debate on "Immigration: Which Way America?" attended by a full house of 300 on Jan. 12 in Lakewood. Former State Sen. David Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) spoke against the evening's proposition: "Resolved: A less restrictive immigration policy is civically and morally best for America." His opening remarks are given below. Position papers from fellow debaters Lucia Guzman, Rosemary Jenks, and Helen Krieble will be posted as we receive them. The debate was recorded for later airing on TV and radio; watch this space for broadcast times.
SCHULTHEIS: Thank you for allowing me to participate in this important discussion. My comments on morality will be made from the perspective of America’s citizens. America is still the most exceptional country in the world, and if we are to retain the ability to respond to the world’s urgent needs as we have in the past, we must remain exceptional.
The question of morality for this Resolution is important to discuss, because it is seen so differently from both the proponents and the opponents of illegal immigration. What is so interesting about the passion on each side however, is that such a discussion skirts the real issue of a why sovereign nations and states, with defined borders, exist in the first place, and whether or not the removal of such borders, and the consequent one-world government is preferable to nation states. We’ll have to leave that for a possible future debate for Colorado Christian University in the future.
Since most Americans believe that defined borders are essential, the discussion of Morality should be made solely from the perspective of the U.S. Citizen and what consequences they wouldincurif illegal immigration remains unchecked. This is perhaps among the most significant of political choices we’ll make in our lifetime. In making it, I urge us not to think about what was good for your great-grandparents, grandparents or parents: I urge us to think about what’s good for our grandchildren.
The end goal I hope we are all seeking is a just, humane, orderly, and prosperous nation. Illegal immigration hinders that goal, in my view. Mass low-skilled immigration undermines the national interest and endangers the future of the Republic and the American people.
As American citizens, it should be our mutual desire for continued reliance on:
• the rule of law
• upholding the dignity of American labor
• sustaining our social safety net
• maintaining the balance we’ve struck between our pluralism and our sense of national belonging conveyed in the phrase E Pluribus Unum
• preventing the emergence of a dual-culture, dual-language society and
• providing to our descendants the solitude of the wild spaces of this magnificent country for their spiritual health.
All these important areas of concern are important moral and ethical issues that bear serious consideration.
Much has been made of late of the increasing growing gap between the poor and wealthy over the last couple decades or so. This indeed should be troubling to all of us, and a closer look at a major cause indicates that it is, in large part, due to massive low-skilled, low-educated Mexican immigration.
One has only to look at California that now leads the nation in income inequality, which resembles that of Mississippi in the1970’s.
California once had the most educated workforce in America; now it ranks dead last. California’s lack of monitoring of illegal immigration has allowed mass importation of poverty.
62% of all immigrants from Mexico and Central America don’t have a high school diploma, while for American Workers it’s only 6%.
A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center reports 30% of illegal immigrants between ages 25-64 have less than a ninth-grade education, while the same statistic for American workers is only 2%.
Is it any wonder that California’s inequality is spreading throughout the U.S.?
Such dramatic educational difference places tremendous burdens on American citizens as they try to cope with the many consequences of such poverty in a country that is fast-becoming a huge welfare state.
Sadly, mass illegal immigration has brutal consequences for our most vulnerable citizens. Yet, while most advocates of illegal immigration to the U.S. say that they’re on the side of justice, their argument ignores the fact that those same advocates give no priority to the significantly-increased sufferings of their fellow citizens.
This is borne out by The National Research Council of the American Academy of Sciences which found that cheap labor of low-skilled illegal aliens caused 44% of the decrease in wages among the poorest Americans from 1980-1995.
The poorest 12% of the American labor force, (15-18 million workers) have suffered pay cuts, heavy job losses, and have fallen deeper into poverty.
More recent findings show far more damaging effects. A 1998 study showed wages for American workers drop 7% for each 1% addition of illegal aliens to the workforce in any job category.
Over the past 25 years, real wages for American workers without a high school education have declined 22%.
One cannot dismiss the fact that the flow of unskilled immigrants plays a significant role in increasing poverty of citizens throughout the U.S., placing large numbers of citizens on welfare rolls.
How does one face these citizens, many who can no longer support their families and not acknowledge the immoral aspect of illegal immigration on their lives?