Sunday, March 18, 2007


One of the things that liberals -- along with the liberal media -- have inculcated in the American psyche is the notion of entitlement. That is, people are entitled to things -- even things they have not earned. Lately, this entitlementarian attitude has been especially prevalent in the way that immigration news is reported.

For instance, here is how, on February 19, the Associated Press reported the news that soon the fees for immigration applications would be raised. It began with: “Supporting herself and a 7-year-old son on a preschool teacher's salary in suburban Marin County, one of the nation's priciest housing markets, keeps [the immigrant named in the report] on a tight budget. One expense she can't control is the rising cost of filing the forms she needs to work and travel in the United States while she waits to become a permanent resident. Those fees have already pushed her careful bookkeeping into the red….”

Neither in those words nor in the rest of the report was there even a hint that immigration to America is only a privilege -- and not a right. Or that immigration is a choice -- a choice made by the immigrant.

If her budget is stretched so thin, then why is she still living in “one of the nation's priciest housing markets”? There is plenty of cheaper housing available in the 3.6 million square miles of the U.S. that is outside of Marin County, California. Why are we asked to feel sorry for a foreigner who can’t make ends meet because she lives in an expensive area? If she finds the fees so objectionable, then she has a choice -- she can return to her native country.

A naturalized American, I used to pay countless immigration fees (work permits, visa extensions, etc.) in the many years that preceded my naturalization. I considered myself a guest here -- and not once did I think I was entitled to affordable fees. As a poor immigrant from the Third World, I was very thankful to America just for letting me in. I knew America had the absolute right to set immigration fees to whatever level it deemed proper. The choice was on me to pay the fees -- or leave.

That AP report was occasioned by the recent proposal of the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that adjudicates immigration applications, to raise fees by some 66 percent. The current fee schedule is apparently based on a 1998 baseline.

According to the USCIS, the raise would defray, for instance, the improvements needed to reduce application processing delays. Besides, the current fees do not cover all the expenses of administering immigration benefits to foreigners. The USCIS loses $3 million a day due to such expenses -- yes, $3 million every day.

Who pays when the USCIS runs up a deficit? Of course, the American taxpayer -- you and me. It therefore makes complete sense that immigrants -- the very people who ask for immigration benefits -- should pay for the services.

But such logic is anathema to liberal entitlementarians, who are quick to portray the impending fee increase as an infringement of an entitlement. Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “Many in the immigrant community see the increase for what it is -- increasing the cost of the American dream, telling those least fortunate among us they probably need not apply."

Of course, that is preposterous. The American dream has never been inexpensive -- even for Americans. For instance, is there anyone who really thinks that the proverbial two-car garage home in the suburbs -- the dream of many young couples -- comes with no mortgage and no taxes? Of course not. The mortgage and the property taxes are the price of admission into that home. Likewise, immigration fees are the price of admission into this country.

For instance, the current fee for an application for naturalization is $400 (which includes $70 for fingerprint processing). The proposed fee would be $675 (including $80 for fingerprints). Think about that -- a mere $675 for citizenship in the greatest country in the world. Since most applicants have to live here for five years before naturalization, they have five years to save $675 -- hardly an onerous requirement. Furthermore, that is a one-time fee -- pay it once, and you are a U.S. citizen for life. That is hardly the case with the various taxes that liberal politicians have enacted over the years -- taxes that we keep paying until we die.

Finally, critics of the fee increase should consider what the so-called “coyotes” (smugglers) charge to bring people across the border from Mexico. People pay these smugglers several thousand dollars just to come here -- illegally, at that. In comparison, a fee increase of several hundred dollars for legal permission to live and work here is not even worth debating.

Mr. de Silva is an engineer with side interests in politics and history.



We will not tolerate intolerance!

Set fire the faggots (No, the first definition in the dictionary, not the current vernacular) and throw the heretic on the auto-da-fe.

Kill the messenger.

Burn the books.

Put the infidel to the sword.

Shun them. Silence them. Do not let them speak, lest they despoil tender minds.

Why does the first recourse seem always thus?

Perhaps it is the baser side of human nature. The raw animal instinct that needs to be mitigated by the nobler philosophies of rational and civilized minds.

First, the rabid left of the Democratic Party demanded a boycott of a planned debate of Democratic presidential candidates in Nevada because it was to be broadcast on the hated Fox News cable television network, the cable news outlet with the highest ratings. The state party acquiesced and canceled.

When the Review-Journal editorially criticized the state party, we got several dozen e-mails, most like this from a Californian: "Fox News is an agenda-driven operation more adapt at cheap shots than news gathering. For Fox to host the Democrats would be like holding a convention of postal workers in a dog pound."

Next came the thousands of e-mails from all over the country to editorial page editors demanding that they stop publishing the columns of conservative bombastician Ann Coulter after she quipped at a political conference, "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot, so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."

A number of newspapers, promptly complied, though she had never used such language in her column. The Review-Journal continues to publish Coulter.

People let us know they did not like Coulter's slurs and did so with a few of their own.

Another Californian offered, "Please drop Ann Coulter, a buffoon and proponent of hatred ... You should stop publishing ravings of psychosexual neurotics by calling them opinions. It is truly shameful to do so, like calling smut art. Your readers know it when they see it."

At least radical lefty Ted Rall, whose editorial cartoons and occasionally a column appear on the op-ed pages of this newspaper, weighed in with support for Coulter. As well he should, because he himself has been the target of boycott demands.

"As a fervent proponent of the First Amendment and an opinion monger who relies upon the right to free expression to earn a living, however, I must set aside my personal resentment -- and I ask you to do the same," Rall wrote.

But perhaps the best response came from a Las Vegas Army officer who said he despises Coulter but reads her columns and analyzes her claims.

"I have given the devil consideration, and dismissed her on the lack of merit in her claim rather than the lack of agreement with my own personal viewpoint," Ryan Jean wrote in a letter published Saturday. "Ann Coulter must be allowed to speak, even if it is worthless, because the First Amendment to that cherished document protects her right to do so. The real test of this right isn't what we do to the speech we agree with, but what we do with the speech we don't. If you want to secure liberty, this is fundamental."

And finally, when Review-Journal columnist Erin Neff suggested that Gov. Jim Gibbons' legal entanglements had mounted to the point that he should resign, we promptly received a letter declaring, "I've read enough, it's time for Erin Neff to go!"

I wonder if these people ever stop to consider that their demands to silence those with whom they disagree is in the same vein, differing only by degrees, as the demands of Muslims that Muhammad never be depicted and that the cartoonists who did so for a Danish newspaper be put to death.

As for this newspaper, we will not cower just because a few brats throw a tantrum.

I'm not saying that people should not call for bans on speakers and writers, that would be a tad hypocritical. Calling for a ban on bans, so to speak. But I will suggest that the civilized thing to do is to curb the animal instinct and answer speech we abhor with countervailing and superior speech, rather than boycotts or violence.

Thomas Mitchell is editor of the Review-Journal and writes about free speech and press. He may be contacted at 383-0261 or via e-mail at tmitchell@