Opinion: Illegals

POSTED: 08/17/11 11:39 AM

So now the cat is out of the bag: after all the efforts, after all the hullaballoo, after all the optimistic messages sent by the last Justice Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, the whole Brooks Tower Accord operation seems to have sold absolutely nothing.
Sure, people were registered. People received their permits. But at the end of the day, when everything is said and done, St. Maarten will still have a couple of thousand illegals on the island.
Anybody who has ever spend a minute of thought on the phenomenon of illegal immigration – in St. Maarten or elsewhere in the world – knew of course that this would be the inevitable outcome.
The migration of people from dirt poor countries to places that offer a better economic perspective will most likely continue forever.
Think about it.
Suppose that somewhere in the future the last cruise line drops St. Maarten from its itinerary. Airlines take their passengers to places like Cuba instead of the Friendly Island. Our tourist economy is dead in the water. Businesses close down, people lose their jobs. Investors leave the island, and timeshare resorts are abandoned. A hurricane destroys most of our infrastructure.
Isn’t that a dreadful scenario?
So, what are people going to do when, God forbid, this became a reality? Sit under a palm tree and pray for a return to the good old times when having a couple of thousand illegals on the island was perceived as a “ticking time bomb”?
We bet our bottom dollar that most people would pick up the last of their belongings and flee to a place where they are able to find a job and create a new life for themselves and their family.
Many countries have made Brooks Tower Accord-like attempts in the past – and none of these programs has had any effect on the influx of illegal immigrants.
Let’s take a look at a part of America’s history in this field. In 1986 – yep, when Ronald Reagan was President – the United States introduced the Immigration Reform and Control Act, or Irca. Reagan thought that a stricter policy towards employers who hire illegals, stricter border control and amnesty for all illegals who were in the country at the time would solve the problem once and for all. The amnesty-measure ended in 1988.
But in the fifteen years after that, the number of illegals increased again. In 1996, the US had 5 million illegals according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service INS, and their numbers increased annually by about 300,000.
However, data taken from the 2000 Census showed that the INS heavily underestimated these numbers. The real number of illegals was in 2002, according to demographers associated with the Northeastern University in Boston, closer to 13 million.
These numbers should not surprise anybody, knowing that every year border patrols arrest 1.5 million illegals at the Mexican border and 250,000 illegals from other parts of the world. Every year, around 800,000 illegals manage to get into the US; between 3200,000 and 500,000 of them remain permanent in the country.
The most extreme estimates hold that the number of illegals in the United States increases as the same pace as the number of legal immigrants.
An analysis by demographers associated with the Erasmus University in Rotterdam notes that stricter policies in exchange for a general amnesty are ineffective. So why do governments keep doing this?
The demographers say that governments have a vested interest in the presence of illegals. Certain sectors of the economy would not survive without cheap labor. In the States, agricultural organizations use their political clout to make sure that the government keeps applying double standards. Farms in Florida, California and Texas employ a lot of illegals but they are seldom subjected to immigration controls. The meatpacking industry in Nebraska and Iowa used to get advance warnings from the INS when a control was coming up, because the immigration service did not want to have a negative effect on the production capacity of the meatpacking businesses.
Dr. H.P. van Dalen, the demographer who wrote the analysis for the Interdisciplinary demographic Institute, concludes that a government that announces a general amnesty loses credibility, because it will within the shortest time be faced with the same situation again.
The American example, Van Dalen wrote, shows that granting amnesty in combination with the introduction of stricter measures does not lead to less immigration. The estimates of the current number of illegals give reason to suspect that the problem has only gotten worse, van Dalen wrote.
The key word is self-interest, the Dutch demographer concludes. “Without illegals certain sectors of the economy cannot yield a profit.”
We will therefore see that, even though there will be a couple of thousand illegals in St. Maarten after the Brooks Tower process has reached its conclusion, not much – if anything at all – will be done to remove these people from the island.
Justice Minister Roland Duncan has publicly admitted that there will be a couple of thousand of illegals left on the island. That is an honest and realistic assessment. Now we are waiting for someone in the government to publicly acknowledge that we actually need these people, and that they won’t be going anywhere.

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