US Welcome Mat for Huddled Masses Becoming Increasingly Frayed

Article excerpt

CUBANS on fragile rafts, Haitians on leaky boats, Chinese in rusty freighters: Illegal immigrants are descending on the United States from all directions. Where will it stop? "This is just the tip of the iceberg," says Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Looking toward the Caribbean, Mr. Stein says: "There is great pent-up demand to move to Florida. Not only in Cuba, but in Haiti, in the Dominican Republican, Jamaica, most of the Caribbean countries. And this pressure will continue to grow." The increasing numbers knocking on America's golden door are creating what Stein and a number of other analysts consider one of the greatest foreign-policy challenges of the next 20 to 30 years. As world population soars, ethnic rivalries increase, and the competition for scarce resources -- especially food -- intensifies, the appeal of the US standard of living will be irresistible to growing millions in the third world. Europe, particularly Germany, is experiencing similar pressure. As Haitians and Cubans have shown, many immigrants will do almost anything, pay any price, take virtually any risk, to reach the US. And the numbers seeking US refuge are certain to grow. Within the next 35 years, the population of Mexico, the No. 1 source of illegal migration to the US, is projected to rise by 57 percent, according to the World Bank. Haitian and Cuban populations will each grow by 55 percent, Hondurans by 100 percent, Chinese by 25 percent, and Indians by 53 percent. Not all immigration experts are as pessimistic as Stein. Jack Martin, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, notes that illegal migration from Central America has abated since civil strife there decreased. Cuba and Haiti also may be special cases where migration pressure could ease once dictators are replaced, Mr. Martin says. But China may be a more serious problem, especially with its population expected to climb to 1.5 billion by 2030, he says. Martin cites a 2-1/2-year federal study by Ko-lin Chin, a sociologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, on the smuggling of Chinese from the Fuzhou region into the US. Approximately 10,000 Chinese from Fuzhou, guided by smugglers, arrive illegally in the US each year. Even when captured, illegal Chinese aliens are generally paroled into the community by immigration officials after only a day or so of detention. Deterrence is minimal. …

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