As an Italian American, I'm angry with 73-year-old Senator Pete Domenici (R.-New Mexico).
Is he senile? In the pay of the cheap labor lobby?
Or is just a moron?
Any of those three might explain Domenici's proposed immigration legislation nonsense titled Welcoming Immigrants to a Secure Homeland (WISH).
One thing is absolutely clear: like most of the U.S. Senate, Domenici has lost touch with America's immigration reality.
Domenici labors under twin misconceptions about immigration.
Tackling point number one: according to Domenici, WISH is the outgrowth of a childhood experience he witnessed sixty years ago.
During World War II Domenici's mother Alda, a legal U.S. citizen, was like many other Italian immigrants arrested during a post-Pearl Harbor checkup.
Alda Domenici was released on bond four hours later and returned safely to her home without further ado. [Senator's Experience Reflected in New Bill, James W. Brosnan, the Albuquerque Tribune, February 18, 2006]
But in a floor statement recalling the incident, Domenici said:
"I believe that we can, and must, do our best to prevent situations like this from occurring in the future."
So, let's see…based on a four hour event that occurred six decades ago, which has not a single parallel to today's illegal immigration offensive, Domenici proposes his WISH amnesty that would:
Is there anyone on the planet that believes that aliens are going to "report to authorities," "pay a fine," or—least likely of all—"leave the U.S after nine years"?
How can anyone seriously propose a "guestworker" program without tackling the "anchor baby" problem? - the anomaly whereby children born to guestworkers in the U.S. would automatically be U.S. citizens.
And, while I can't find an estimate by Domenici of how many new immigrants his plan would let in, the H-1B and student provisions alone could mean another couple of million a year.
As for the second point—the concerns of New Mexicans—a poll taken by the Albuquerque Journal in October 2005 found that 71 percent of the state's legal residents feel that illegal immigration is a serious or somewhat serious problem.
They don't want illegal immigrants to receive many of the benefits typically available to citizens only such as food stamps, driver's licenses, college educations and free health care for their children.
Furthermore the poll revealed that most people in New Mexico feel that illegal immigration hurts the state's economy. While a slight majority favors guest worker programs—generic since the survey did not spell out the details of any particular program—a nearly equal number, 51 percent, favors using the military to protect the border from illegal alien crossings. [Poll: Most New Mexicans Believe Illegal Immigration is a Problem, by Leslie Linthicum, Albuquerque Journal, October 30, 2005]
The poll kicked off an eight part series run by the Journal titled "The Border and Beyond" that included stories whose titles would lead you to the conclusion that, as indicated by the survey, illegal immigration is a growing headache for New Mexicans: Marijuana, Heroin, Cocaine Keep Pouring Across the Border,; With Most Patrol Agents at the Border, Illegal Immigrants Who Make It North Have Little to Fear,; Immigrants Most Likely to Seek Help with Childbirth or For Emergency Treatment,; Immigrant Students Need Help to Graduate,; Illegal Immigrants Crush Courts in Overburdened Judicial System, and Tension Among Hispanic Groups Erupt in Schools
Apparently, Domenici doesn't read his local newspaper.
How else could he be so misinformed?
And Domenici must not pay much mind to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.
Richardson, much closer to the local scene than Domenici in his Washington D.C. ivory tower, declared New Mexico in "a state of emergency" during the 2005 summer because of illegal immigration.
But Domenici marches to his own drummer.
In a press release issued on February 17th, he said:
"As a border state Senator and the son of immigrants, I have a unique perspective on immigration. I understand the need to provide a secure homeland for my constituents who see the problems caused by illegal entries into our country every day. I also understand the need to welcome immigrants to our country, so that America remains a country where hard working, entrepreneurial, and intelligent immigrants can prosper.
"The time is right to fix our immigration laws, which are not working properly. My bill strikes a sensible and realistic balance between cracking down on illegal immigration while encouraging legal immigration. Slamming the door on immigration or unilaterally deporting millions of illegals already in the country is just unrealistic."
These empty words are nothing but a pack of hurtful lies. And Domenici knows it.
But even worse is that Domenici cites his Italian heritage to suit his own treasonous purposes.
That makes me want to pull my hair out.
As an Italian-American, I am ashamed that Domenici has disgraced the memory of his grandparents and mine by comparing them to brazen lawbreakers.
Like Domenici's Alda and Cherubino, my grandparents came to America legally and entered the country through a port of entry under the watchful eye of the U.S. government.
They worked hard (without falsifying documents to get jobs), learned English, became American citizens and were loyal first and always to the U.S.
My grandmother, Louisa, on what U.S. citizenship meant to her:
"The four happiest days of my life were the days each of my three children were born and the day I became a U.S. citizen."
With WISH, Domenici has dishonored Italian-Americans and embarrassed himself.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.