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California Is Dying—And It`s The Canary In America`s Immigration Coal Mine
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June 06, 2009, 05:00 AM
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Did you happen to catch Governor Terminator talking about Judgement Day in California? Mr. Schwarzenegger went on the tube this past week to tell us that "We can only spend what we have. That is the harsh but simple reality," he said in the rare midyear appearance before a joint Legislature session. "Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed and our credit is dried up."[Schwarzenegger sees opportunity in budget crisis, By Juliet Williams, Associated Press, June 2, 2009,]

Earlier talk of a Federal bailout was judged a poor idea by many, including the Washington Post in a May 24 editorial, just as General Motors went into bankruptcy with billions of our tax dollars as an inducement.

And just now, in responding to the Governor`s urgent message for cutting costs, the California Senate passed a bill to give driver`s licences to illegal aliens.

As if losing an average of almost 600,000 jobs a month in the US should mean we make it easier for the illegal aliens to stay here and to get to jobs American citizens don`t have.

 But then, of course, our helpful Federal government is bowing to strong business pressure and allowing over 100,000 legal aliens a month to come here to the US on various brands of work visas.

How many to California? Well here`s a bit of basic demography.

Since the 1965 changes in our immigration laws, we have added huge numbers of immigrants and their children to our national population. In 1970 California`s population was about 20 million. Today, that population is estimated at about 37 million. Of those, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates about 10 million are legal (7 million) and illegal (3 million) immigrants. 35% of all Californians are persons of Hispanic origin, principally Mexicans. Over 8 million Californians were born outside the USA.

Just on the sheer numbers alone, it is not hard to see why California is now bankrupt.

I am a long-time San Francisco Democrat, now transplanted to Washington D.C. So recently I wrote Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to ask why we didn`t fix our broken immigration system. This was her June 5, 2009 email reply?

"I have long called for comprehensive immigration reform to address the growing disconnect between our nation`s immigration policy and the reality on the ground in cities and communities across our country. Our immigration system needs to honor the promise of America and recognize the enormous contributions immigrants make to our nation. We must enact immigration reform that is humane and honors our American tradition of being a nation of immigrants and a land of opportunity for all. At the same time, we must secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure the safety of the American people.

While immigration reform remains an unsolved challenge for our nation, we must recognize that America was built by immigrants, and the immigrant community continues to make significant contributions to our nation. The debate on immigration reform must be framed by our nation`s rich tradition of respect for our shared immigrant heritage. Please be assured that I will keep your comments in mind as I work with President Obama, leadership and the committees of jurisdiction to develop a strategy to advance immigration legislation that promotes our core American values."

Can you imagine such chutzpah? You know her "comprehensive immigration reform" simply means "amnesty" for the 20 million illegal aliens here now and encouraging many more later. We know the fiasco that the 1986 immigration reform legislation proved to be.

And believe me House Speaker Pelosi is not alone. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) recently held very unbalanced hearings on "comprehensive immigration reform" which failed to give time to those opposed to the massive giveaway of American citizenships.

But it really gets much worse if one is trying to calculate the fiscal effect on California–and project what this means for America.

Folks, California is the biggest example of the famous canary in the coal mine theory ever. Remember, until 1986 in the U.K., canaries were regularly used in coal mines as an early warning system. The birds died in the presence of toxic gases. Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they provided both a visual and audible cue.

California is certainly getting toxic budgetary news. It is killing the economy and all that this once-vaunted state had to offer in the way of education and environment, making it the envy of the world. The decline I have personally observed is obvious to so many I talk to, yet this fiscal death notice to California which has counterparts in other states, does not seem to worry other Americans—yet.

Fortunately, thanks to a careful and exhaustive research report by Steve Camarota, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration  Studies, entitled "Immigrants in the United States, 2007: A profile of America`s Foreign-Born Population" we learn that:

"Of adult immigrants, 31 percent have not completed high school, compared to 8 percent of natives. Since 2000, immigration increased the number of workers without a high school diploma by 14 percent, and all other workers by 3 percent.

"The proportion of immigrant-headed households using at least one major welfare program is 33 percent, compared to 19 percent for native households.

"The poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) is 17 percent, nearly 50 percent higher than the rate for natives and their children.

"34 percent of immigrants lack health insurance, compared to 13 percent of natives. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured since 1989."

All this means more public costs, more demands on government resources.

How long will this madness continue? California Governor Pete Wilson tried long ago to get help from our Federal Government, but those elected officials knew better than to try to buck the industrial-military complex that now rules our former Republic. Those worthies (notice in what high regard our Congress is rated in the polls) handle immigration like a political popularity contest where the more cheap labor you support importing, the more money flows to re-elect you from the coffers of business.

Result: Just take a look at the bloated California budget. And then we learn that the City of Oakland, California will be soon joining San Francisco in giving all residents including illegal aliens ID cards. That can only serve to add to that city`s nearly $100 million deficit, as public services will now flow to illegal aliens and their anchor babies.

Of course the California voters don`t want to pay to fix this mess. In the May special election, voters rejected all five budget-related measures placed on the ballot by Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders. Revenue has continued to plummet as residents have reduced spending and unemployment has soared to 11 percent.

I predict that as matters get worse—and they surely will–Californians and all Americans will finally wake up to the fact that unchecked immigration, wanton use of the public trough and loss of expected public services will cause a revolt by voters.

But for now too many are sitting on their hands, fat, dumb and perhaps apprehensive but unwilling to take part in the political rough and tumble. Sad that corrective action will likely not happen before devastation to our culture, our traditions, our comity and the prosperity we have enjoyed.

California has had many recent internal signs of overuse and unsustainability. For example, the fish resources of the state have precipitously declined and the commercial salmon fishing season is now closed, while when reasonable new regulations to save the salmon have been proposed, Terminator Schwarzenegger has sided with the farmers who keep degrading the free water they abuse, so that renewal of this great resource is imperilled.

California is the Big Canary. It`s dying—and Americans had better take notice.

Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.