Sunday, March 05, 2006


On Dec. 8, a report commissioned by Gov. Tim Pawlenty pegged the public cost of illegal immigration in Minnesota at up to $188 million a year.

• It estimated the number of illegal, or undocumented, immigrants in Minnesota at 80,000 to 85,000, more than the numbers in at least 20 other states.

One state expert has estimated that the number of undocumented workers in Minnesota is much closer to 25,000.

Even if we choose to ignore the economic and social benefits of immigrants ,legal or not , let us consider their side of the story. For those who come here legally, they face an uphill battle. Many think they pay no taxes and come here for welfare. Interestingly, they usually come here to fill in jobs we can't keep up with - like Indian information technology professionals. These are Americas true competitors in the global economic sphere. Yet we lump them with Latin American immigrants.

Yet, Latin Americans are competing with the Chinese for factory jobs and exports. And over the last 25 years, Latin America has suffered the worst economic growth performance in its modern history. From 1980 to 2005, income per person in the region grew by only 10 percent. In the prior 20 years -- 1960 to1980 -- it grew by 82 percent.

Imagine only getting a 1% raise each year - for 2 and a half decades! Would you stick around in a country like that - with quality of life issues remaining stagnant? Of course not - you would come to America as well!!

But "They steal our jobs and high wages!!" people cry. This is not only pathetic - but the cause is preventable. The solution is but two highly charged words for a Catholic - family planning. And if Latin American women had the choice of how many kids they wanted and access to contraceptives and sterilization - we would have fewer immigrants. But in America - we think in binary. We can't take two interwoven issues and see a solution for both.

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