A California Department of Transportation sign warns motorists of immigrants—an admonition that could also help Washington’s policymakers.(Getty Images)
A California Department of Transportation sign warns motorists of immigrants—an admonition that could also help Washington’s policymakers.
(Getty Images)

The Trouble With Immigration

Foreigners can bring more than just their luggage.

Over 1.2 million legal and illegal immigrants settle on American soil each year. Since 1990, the number of aliens living in the United States has mushroomed 43 percent; the Latino population alone doubled between 1980 and 2000, constituting 40 percent of all U.S. growth. Today, 1 in 10 people in America is a foreigner.

The immigration explosion is not exclusive to the U.S. Fully 40 percent of today’s Canadians were either born abroad or are the children of Canadians born elsewhere. By 2011, immigrants are projected to account for all net population growth in Canada.

Over the next 25 years, 84 percent of the United Kingdom’s population growth is expected to come from immigration.

As for illegal immigration, national borders are more porous than ever. In Canada, “gaps in Canada’s border security are so severe that an airport accepts international passengers without on-site immigration checks, a marine border unit has no boat, a computer glitch systematically hides information about terrorists, and officers at 62 border crossings are unable to link to a computer to screen incoming travelers” (National Post, April 11).

In the crowded UK, where the population is roughly 60 million, an estimated 500,000 workers are thought to be illegal. If spouses, dependents and those not working are added, the “illegal” population is close to 1 million and climbing.

Governments are polarized over the issue. In America, some yearn to liberalize immigration laws. Others assert that uncontrolled immigration has burgeoned into a huge disaster that is rapidly getting worse.

The debate in England over immigration and multiculturalism has taken on extra meaning since London’s terrorist bombings in July. In a few states in the U.S., illegal immigration has become so prevalent and its negative effects so dire that the state government has declared certain counties to be in a “state of emergency”—a protocol generally used in the wake of hurricanes, floods, mass riots or other catastrophes.

In this globalized world, immigration has become a global quandary.

This issue is a two-edged sword. What was once seen as a blessing to many nations has become a terrible curse with seemingly unsolvable repercussions. Too few understand the crux of this complex problem.

Two areas affected by immigration cause particular concern: the economy and crime.

Economic Impact

The hard work and perseverance of America’s early immigrants did much to help the U.S. become the richest and most powerful nation in the world. By 1869, in no small part thanks to the industrious nature of its immigrant population, America had attained the highest per-capita income in the world. That phenomenal wealth, together with a burgeoning population, created the world’s first consumer-driven economy.

But economic tragedy struck. The stock market crash of 1929 gutted the American economy and thrust the nation into unprecedented hardship. It was in the midst of this economic depression that American politicians laid the foundation for a welfare state. From this time forward, the American government became the crutch on which needy citizens could lean.

Concurrent with the rising popularity of the federal welfare programs was the burgeoning of immigration. Immigrants began streaming into America, where many of the poorest and least educated were no longer required to subscribe to the traditional American work ethic and instead could rely on the federal government to take care of them. Similar problems occurred in Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

This trend continues today, and the economic impact of immigrants on the federal government is phenomenal. Immigration analyst Norman Matloff stated, “The reason for this increased reliance on welfare is that for many immigrant groups, welfare in recent years has lost its stigma and has instead become a magnet, drawing them to the United States. As one Chinese senior in Oakland puts it, a common point of view is mh hou sit dai, Cantonese for ‘Don’t miss this great opportunity’” (Sacramento Bee, Dec. 14, 1994). Matloff cited census data showing that, for example, 55 percent of the Chinese seniors who immigrated to California from 1980 to 1987 were on welfare by 1990.

In the era of Big Government, burdening the middle class and the rich with heavy taxes and giving handouts to an increasing number of poor dependents is heightening the ethnic strife and racial stereotypes. In this respect, even legal immigrants are placing an increasing burden on the U.S. economy. When we factor in the economic cost of illegal immigrants, the picture grows increasingly dire. Illegal and legal immigration is costing America billions.

The Center for Immigration Studies (cis) estimated the total impact of illegal immigration on the federal budget: “[W]hen all taxes paid (direct and indirect) and all costs are considered, illegal households created a net fiscal deficit at the federal level of more than $10 billion in 2002. We also estimate that, if there was an amnesty for illegal aliens, the net fiscal deficit would grow to nearly $29 billion” (“The High Cost of Cheap Labor,” August 2004).

No state has been more impacted financially by both illegal and legal immigration than California. “Analysis of the latest census data indicates that California’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to nearly $9 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden from those three areas of state expenditures amounts to about $1,183 per household headed by a native-born resident” (Federation for American Immigration Reform, “The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Californians,” November 2004).

The economic costs associated with immigration are hitting the UK as well. The influx of immigrants has profoundly cost the government. The budget of the Immigration and Nationality Department of the Home Office in the fiscal year of 1998-1999 was 300 million pounds; by 2003-2004 that amount had risen to 1.9 billion pounds—a jaw-dropping increase of 633 percent.

Many of these immigrants are asylum seekers. More people apply for asylum in Britain than in any other EU country. Why? Because it’s easier to enter, remain and claim asylum status there compared to other EU countries like Germany or France. Anyone can claim asylum upon arriving in the UK and cannot be expelled until his claim is rejected and he has exhausted any right of appeal. “Meanwhile, the claimant is entitled to free accommodation, emergency health care, children’s education, a cash allowance and free legal aid” (www.migrationwatch.org, February 2005).

Families that are denied asylum “continue to receive benefits worth an average of 15,000 pounds a year tax-free” (ibid., January 2004). Britain’s shadow immigration minister admitted to the presence of over 250,000 failed asylum seekers in the UK (Express, May 18).

An added economic consequence of immigration is the bleeding of cash from host countries. Upon locating work in their host nation, many immigrants (legal or illegal) send a portion of their paychecks back home to their families. In the U.S., for example, Mexicans will send home $20 billion this year alone, according to projections by Mexico’s Central Bank. This flood of cash will probably be the largest source of foreign exchange in Mexico. The cash from Mexicans working in the U.S. is a driving force behind Mexico’s economy: It amounts to the equivalent of 2 percent of its gross domestic product. No wonder the Mexican government has done little to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. and, in many documented cases, has actually condoned their illegal entry.

In 2004, India received $17.5 billion in the same manner. China, Pakistan and the Philippines also receive substantial wads in remittance. For these nations, illegal immigration is paying off quite nicely.


Heather Mac Donald, in an article titled “The Illegal Alien Crime Wave,” wrote, “Some of the most violent criminals at large today are illegal aliens. Yet in cities where the crime committed by aliens is highest, the police cannot use the most obvious tool to apprehend them: their immigration status” (City Journal, Winter 2004; emphasis ours throughout). Mac Donald highlighted Los Angeles as an example: The city is home to numerous gangs, many of which are comprised of illegal immigrants from around the world—particularly Asia, Latin America and South America. Alone and often without money or a place to live, illegal immigrants in big cities are prone to joining gangs in order to acquire food and shelter. Feeling secure among people of his own race or status (illegal), the new immigrant oftentimes embraces the gang as a surrogate family, and crime becomes his new occupation.

Mac Donald highlighted the following examples:

  • In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.
  • A California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in Southern California was illegal; police officers said the proportion was actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborated with the Mexican Mafia—the dominant force in California prisons—on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion and drive-by assassinations, and committed an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang had grown dramatically over the previous two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.
  • The leadership of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002. A Mexican Mafia member and an illegal alien controlled the gang from prison while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.

Referring to another L.A. gang, Mac Donald stated, “[D]ozens of members of a ruthless Salvadoran prison gang have [sneaked] back into town after having been deported for such crimes as murder, assault with a deadly weapon and drug trafficking. Police officers know who they are and know that their mere presence in the country is a felony. Yet should a cop arrest an illegal for felonious reentry, it is he who will be treated as a criminal for violating the lapd’s [Los Angeles Police Department’s] rule against enforcing immigration law.

“The lapd’s ban on immigration enforcement mirrors bans in immigrant-saturated cities around the country, from New York and Chicago to San Diego, Austin and Houston. These ‘sanctuary policies’ generally prohibit city employees, including the cops, from reporting immigration violations to federal authorities.”

Making matters worse than the fact that illegal immigration contributes to high crime rates in many of America’s larger cities is the reality that many of the illegal immigrants committing the crimes are protected by misguided policies set up by city and state governments.

“[Sanctuary] laws testify to the sheer political power of immigrant lobbies, a power so irresistible that police officials shrink from even mentioning the illegal alien crime wave. ‘We can’t even talk about it,’ says a frustrated lapd captain. ‘People are afraid of a backlash from Hispanics.’ Another lapd commander in a predominantly Hispanic, gang-infested district sighs: ‘I would get a firestorm of criticism if I talked about [enforcing the immigration law against illegals].’ Neither captain would speak for attribution” (ibid.).

James R. Edwards, an author who specializes in immigration, stated, “The impact [of illegal immigration] is seen particularly in crime: Record-high auto thefts in Arizona, drug trafficking in Salt Lake City, human smuggling rings in Los Angeles, D.C. sniper Lee Malvo, money laundering, prostitution, gang murders, and even slavery” (The Claremont Institute, Nov. 22, 2004). The evidence proves that illegal immigrants are a driving force behind high crime rates in many American cities, particularly those close to the southern border.

Reflecting the impact illegal immigrants are having on America’s crime statistics is the impact they are having on the U.S. prison system. America’s prisons are chock-full of illegal immigrants. The facts and figures are stunning.

“In 2002, nearly 29 percent, or 39,000 inmates, in the federal prison system were non-citizens. Based on prior research, we estimated that 59 percent of this total are illegal aliens. This translates into 17 percent of the federal prison population, and thus 17 percent of the $4.1 billion prison budget can be attributed to illegal alien households” (cis, op. cit.). The fact that 17 percent of America’s prisoners are illegal immigrants demonstrates the vast extent of their involvement in crime and criminal activities.

In Britain, illegal immigrants similarly contribute to crime. The large numbers of illegal immigrants seeking to work in the UK give rise to organized criminals who recruit and supply cheap labor for agricultural, catering, construction, food processing and manufacturing job markets. The majority of illegal immigrants entering the UK would not be able to do so without forged or stolen travel documents, transportation access, fraudulent sponsorship and other benefits provided by these crooks.

“Serious and organized criminals involved in both smuggling and trafficking make extensive use of bribery and corruption to support their activities. They exploit border guards, police and customs officers, and a range of political and official contacts in order to operate unhindered. They also collude with professionals who can assist them, including those in the legal profession” (National Criminal Intelligence Service report, 2003). Some illegal immigrants work for months or years to pay off the fee that these criminals charge.

Evidence also shows that illegal immigrants are used by organized criminals in drug trafficking, vehicle theft and even aggressive begging and pick-pocketing (especially in bigger cities like London) in order to obtain credit cards that can be used for further criminal activity.

Some believe immigration restrictions would not help solve crime problems and that the focus rather needs to be on dealing with the crime itself. They argue that crime is an inherent part of any society. While this argument has some validity because it recognizes that crime will exist as long as human nature remains unchanged, it is flawed.

Consider the gang situation in California. If every illegal immigrant was deported out of California and if illegals were prevented from coming in and joining gangs, would gang-related criminal activity stop? No. But would it drop? Yes—and probably quite dramatically.

While prevention of illegal immigration wouldn’t cure our crime problems, it would definitely reduce the number of crimes occurring in many of our larger cities, particularly those closer to our borders.

Because our enforcement agencies are handcuffed by lack of resources, as well as bureaucracy and political correctness, criminal activity conducted by illegal immigrants will only grow worse. Our cities will increasingly be robbed of peace and safety.

Terrorists in Our Midst

The economic and criminal impact of poorly managed immigration is hijacking the economies and largely peaceful societies of the U.S., Australia, Britain and Canada. Uncontrolled immigration, however, presents an even more sobering threat.

“After decades of attempting to dam the flow of Mexican immigrants crossing into the United States illegally, federal agents say a new crisis is emerging along the southern border, and they are helpless to stop it. Non-Mexicans are spilling over the border in record numbers—some from countries with terrorist ties—and most are set free soon after being captured” (Christian Science Monitor, July 26). America’s porous borders have become an attractive option for terrorists seeking entry into the nation.

“Already this year the number of non-Mexican apprehensions has far outpaced last year’s total in just eight months” (ibid.). Illegal immigrants from nations other than Mexico are flooding into America at an unprecedented rate.

“Other than Mexicans” (otms) must be returned to their country of origin. Officials cannot just send them back across the southern border, as they do most Mexicans. U.S. law dictates that they be detained in the U.S. pending a deportation hearing. “The problem is, immigration detention centers are packed, so most otms are given a court summons and told to return in three months. A full 85 percent don’t” (ibid.).

According to the U.S. Border Patrol, 465,000 otms have exploited this “catch and release” program and settled illegally in the United States. The Christian Science Monitor quoted T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council: “It’s an insane policy which encourages otms to come into the country illegally, and we shouldn’t be shocked that they are coming in record numbers.” While most otms come from Central and South America, more than 600 of them entered the U.S. in 2004 from “countries of concern”—countries that support terrorists.

There is no mistaking the fact that weak immigration policies and practices are contributing to the economic and societal destruction of America, Britain and Canada. Combine these facts with the probability that terrorists are penetrating our porous borders and setting up camp, and we should easily recognize the severity of the immigration issue. This is a serious problem. National security is on the line.

The solution lies beyond politics. The curses immigration has thrust upon the Western world were prophesied in the Bible. The reasons behind the failure of our immigration practices are spiritual.

In our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy (free to Trumpet readers upon request), we explain that the nations of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK comprise the peoples of biblical Israel. This is important to understand, because the Bible has specific prophecies concerning these nations. One of those prophecies discusses the problem that these nations would have with immigration.

God gave a dire warning to the Israelite peoples concerning immigrants from other cultures (the Bible uses the word strangers). He said that if the children of Israel were to rebel against His laws—to turn away from His commandments and embrace the practices of the heathen—they would suffer terribly (Deuteronomy 28:15-19). The curses included this prophecy: “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever” (verses 43-46).

The imminent fulfillment of the stranger rising up in great numbers and overwhelming the Israelitish people is a sign of God’s curses being poured out on these nations. Lax immigration policies and weak borders are playing an instrumental role in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. God is cursing the nations of biblical Israel for their failure to hold fast to His laws. God is humbling us—imploring us to turn to Him.

Unless the people of Israel repent, “strangers” will continue to pour through their ports of entry and get above them until they lose the inheritance afforded them by Almighty God. It is prophetic fulfillment. It is happening even as you read this magazine.

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