Radio personality Bill Handel discussed arguments in favor of allowing illegal immigration, while countering that some are invalid at Tuesday’s “Speak Your Mind” lecture held at the USU’s Plaza del Sol Performance Hall.
Among the arguments that the 640 AM KFI morning show host discussed were that illegal immigration allows people to do the work that no one wants to do, provides cheaper goods and services, is healthy for the economy, and increases cultural diversity.
But the most important underlying effect is that big businesses profit from immigration, he said.
Accepted by Handel was the argument that hordes of immigrants make the choice to come to the U.S. in order to work and support their families.
“You can never blame an individual who wants to feed his kids,” he said.
Citing statistics from national studies, Handel explained why other arguments are invalid.
Hospitals, public schools and social service programs are overwhelmed, he said, adding that five Southland emergency rooms recently closed due to the lack of resources to accommodate the population.
It costs California $10.5 billion to keep illegal immigrants incarcerated and pay for health care, which the state does not receive reimbursement for by the federal government, Handel said. The number of illegal immigrants will lead the country to collapse under its own weight, he said.
But Handel added that he understood that people should have a chance at a new life.
Early in his lecture, he touched on the story of his father’s move to the U.S. from Europe and Brazil. His father left a quality control job with Mercedes Benz in Brazil to start out digging ditches in the U.S.
He then moved on, and even did electrical work at CSUN. It took him 11 years to receive his green card.
The majority of illegal immigrants who come into this country do not have a lot of education, he said. They have only their hands to offer for work, which he said the U.S. consciously capitalizes on.
“We take full advantage of it, don’t we?” he said, adding that as a society, we are all morally responsible for the exploitation of illegal immigrants.
And illegal immigration is unfair to those going through the process of coming into the country legally, he said.
“The immigrants still waiting to come in resent those who cut in line,” he said in reference to illegal aliens.
He then questioned how such a phenomenon could be explained to those who go through the lengthy process of legal citizenship.
Handel said most illegal immigrants don’t want to adopt an American identity.
“Just because of the culture and unlike any other wave they do not intend to become American,” he said. “They’re here for the money.”
Following Handel’s lecture, Liz Cervantes, a prospective CSUN graduate student, asked Handel during the question-and-answer segment why it was necessary for immigrants to “throw away their own culture” in order to assimilate.
“What’s the fear of allowing people to hold on to their native flag or native tongue?” she questioned.
Another student accused U.S. citizens of being frightened by the prospect of immigrants entering their country.
“I think Americans are afraid of our American dream,” said Donald Day, a fine arts major.
People try to do the best they can when they come to the U.S., he said.
Handel’s solution to the issue of illegal immigration was that the borders need to be secured, and that we cannot allow more illegal immigration.
Others agreed with Handel, adding that he presented the strengths and weaknesses with each argument discussed.
“The number of people that are here illegally is not the concern,” said Mike Lund, astrophysics major. “The issue is if illegal immigration is not controlled, how will it be in 20 years?”
Lund also said he appreciated hearing a viewpoint from someone who immigrated to the country.
“Too often it’s native American versus illegal immigrant,” he said. He said the lecture gave a voice to people who are on the middle ground.
Handel’s show, which is in its twelfth year, airs Monday through Friday on KFI AM 640 from 5 to 9 a.m.