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Tell It Like It Is

America's Hands Out Society

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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

May 2, 2011 | 1314 views | 1 comment

Harlingen, Texas, April 30, 2011: Living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas is usually a joyful experience. According to national studies it is one of the most pollution free areas in the United States. There is year-round abundant sunshine. The Gulf of Mexico splashes up on our shoreline. We have a society that is enriched by the cultures of two nations and a hard working, loyal and dedicated workforce. It is one of the best labor markets a company could find anywhere. Added to all of these positive attributes is an abundance of kind, caring and friendly people.

But, every coin has two sides and the reverse side of ours is not at all pleasant to ponder. The Rio Grande Valley, pressing up against the border with Mexico also serves as a magnet for immigration, both legal and illegal. Those arriving on this side of the river Mexico calls the Rio Bravo are all searching for a more prosperous life? Sadly, however, they arrive here lacking financial support, marketable skills or gainful employment. Due to having only a minimal education, most will not advance themselves to the point of being self-sufficient.

Over the past decade the population of Texas has increased more than 20%. The Valley, as this area is referred to, has almost doubled in population during this same period. These numbers are all driven be the inflow of immigrants and the growth has brought multiple problems to an area where resources are already stretched to the breaking point. Heavy demands have been placed on an expanding infrastructure. Crime has escalated. The public school system finds itself in a continuous construction mode just to stay even with ever expanding student enrollment. Health and sanitation demands are more than available dollars can handle.

Because this immigrant population cannot care for itself, welfare roles continue to expand. At this hour 54% of the legal immigrants and 70% of the illegal immigrants in the Lone Star State are receiving some form of government welfare. These benefits range from a taxpayer provided education to free and reduced price breakfasts and lunches, charity shelters providing beds and meals and emergency medical care. Since many immigrant families have children born in the United States, they become eligible for a variety of programs that are designed to provide aid to dependent children. These include children’s assistance programs, public housing, family support, food stamps and Medicaid.

How much aid can they receive? This is very hard to place a number on. I once visited a government welfare worker and asked that question. His answer; “You had better talk to some hard-corps welfare case. They know more about all the programs available than we do.” That statement is correct. We have no idea of how much we are handing out to immigrants, just as we have no idea how many illegal immigrants are living inside our borders. A good example of this inability to understand our own assistance system was recently reported in the House of Representatives. It has been discovered that Congress has found twenty different programs designed to help find people employment. Twenty duplicate programs where one would serve all our needs. How many other programs have the same type of redundancy.

A few years back there was a very hard working “legal” immigrant who was providing janitorial service for my office. He was doing such a good job that I wanted to recommend him in for a raise. When I told him this, he begged me not to offer him any more money because that would place him in a higher bracket and he would lose all of his welfare assistance.

That simple statement is at the heart of both our immigration mess and our welfare fiasco. There is a large immigrant population that has arrived on our shores and moved across our borders knowing that as long as they hold out their hands, some government program will fill those hands with benefits. The second half of the problem is our welfare system has slowly returned to what it was before the welfare reform bill of the Clinton Administration. We have once again put into play a system where we reward people for not working and we penalize those who seek to improve their station in life.

Most Americans are willing to offer those in trouble a hand up so they can escape from their difficulties. Instead of that, our own government has turned the immigrant population into a” hands out” society that demands us to care for all its needs.
« Previous Blog Entry (April 21, 2011)

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