Illegal Immigration Turning Calif. Into ‘Apartheid State,’ Expert Warns
By Steve Brown
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
August 20, 2003
(CNSNews.com) - California may evolve into an “apartheid state” unless major changes are made in immigration policy, a panel of immigration experts warned Tuesday.
The problems are fueled primarily by illegal immigration to California, resulting in a growing segment of the population that pays a disproportionately low percentage in taxes; uses a similarly disproportionate amount of welfare services; and increasingly lives in virtually segregated communities while working in more affluent areas of the state, the panelists said.
California State University, Fresno professor Victor Davis Hanson, a member of the panel hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in Washington, D.C., described some central California cities that are composed entirely of recent Mexican immigrants and their families, many of whom live in “a shadow community” because of their illegal status.
“Where I live, there are towns such as Orange Cove, Mendota or Parlier, Calif., which are 100 percent composed of either people who are the first generation from Mexico and are illegal aliens, or second generation where third- and fourth-generation Mexican citizens have left,” said Hanson, author of the recently published book Mexifornia: A State of Becoming.
“These are like test tube cases of what not to do,” said Hanson. “You reject American integration and diversity, and you allow apartheid societies of people who basically serve more affluent people in a shadow community without legality.”
Hanson predicted the issue of illegal immigration from Mexico will be raised either in the current California recall campaign or in the 2004 presidential election, saying he expects the debate will be “demagogued in a way that’s going to be quite infamous before the actual elections come around.”
Part of the reason the issue of illegal immigration is such a highly charged political issue is because relatively few Americans have first-hand experience with it, according to San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Joseph Perkins, who was also on the panel.
Another facet of the debate centers on the supply of cheap labor, which favors an “open-border” mindset in some business quarters.
“Most of these folks have not actually seen the consequences of that policy,” said Perkins. “The fact is California, the nation’s most populous state, has been transformed by immigration, particularly illegal immigration.”
According to Perkins, who opposes open-border policies after having supported them as an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. “If my friends in New York who continue to advocate open borders were to have 100,000 Chinese immigrants heading into New York harbor year by year and suddenly becoming part of New York State’s population… then they might feel differently.”
Steve Camarota, director of research for the CIS, dismissed many of the economic theories used to support an open-border policy.
While some argue that Mexican immigration - legal or otherwise - is crucial to the economy, Camarota introduced statistical data showing that Mexican immigrants comprise nearly one-third of California’s population but account for approximately 3 percent of the state’s economic output.
According to Camarota, California’s estimated population of more than 35.5 million people includes some 10 million Mexicans, 70 percent of who are in the state illegally and 65 percent of who have less than a high school education.
“The idea that Mexican immigration is vital to the U.S. economy is simply false,” Camarota said.
Next, Camarota noted that Mexican immigrants pay significantly less in taxes compared with native Californians but use disproportionately more welfare benefits than those born in the state.
Camarota’s data showed that the average taxes paid by Mexican immigrants in California amount to about $1,535 per year, while native-born Californians pay $5,600 in taxes.
While Mexican immigrants pay one-third the taxes of native Californians on average, they also consume roughly three times more welfare, Camarota said.
The CIS data showed that 41.5 percent of Mexican immigrants used “major welfare programs” like Medicaid and food stamps, while those same welfare programs were used by only 14.2 percent of native Californians.
“There’s a very big difference between what Mexican immigrants are supposed to pay in taxes and what natives are supposed to pay,” said Camarota. “This fact, coupled with their extremely high use of public services, means that there’s a very high cost for cheap labor.”
While the panelists illustrated the encroaching problems and their causes, few detailed solutions were offered.
“What should we do? I think most people support immigration, we want immigration, and it always enriches the culture. But we want it in California under legal auspices,” said Hanson.
Hanson said it would require “legal, measured immigration.” However, he emphasized that “something” must be done to protect the borders