I grew up in Yakima, Washington, and worked summer jobs in orchards with a largely Hispanic crew back when teenagers could work in the fields. My father was a produce dealer in the Yakima valley, an agricultural area with a large population of both legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants. My experience showed me that they are much like us. There are cultural differences, but most shared our values of family, faith and hard work. However, like my family, they too had some “bad apples.” Yakima was widely known as the heroin capital of the Northwest, and the murder rate, especially among the illegal alien population, was high.

The bottom line: People are people with all their achievements and failures, joys and sorrows no matter what their native country. People weren’t the problem, the immigration system was the problem.

I’ve watched the failure of our leaders to provide for a reasonable immigration system for my entire life. Our broken system has hurt both the illegal alien workers and the majority of U.S. citizens. An elitist class from both political parties and criminal elements bent on exploitation of powerless workers and its own population has stood in the way of progress. Large employers in the hospitality, construction, food processing and agriculture industries favor the broken system and porous border that drives down the cost of labor.

The Democratic Party welcomes impoverished immigrants and their offspring into the salad bowl of victimization and identity politics to thereby change the electoral map. Human smugglers and drug traffickers horribly abuse people and exploit them for money while pouring drugs into the U.S. through porous borders. American workers receive lower wages and are given the tab for the consequences of illegal activities. We are all being used.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) report, published in September 2017 is one of the most comprehensive studies on immigration to date and highlights many statistics to consider.

The total cost of illegal immigration is $116 billion annually and is growing at an unsustainable pace. Costs are driven by medical care, education and law enforcement.

Illegal aliens pay billions of taxes every year but ultimately cost taxpayers seven times what they contribute.

The majority of the costs, $89 billion, are borne at the state and local level.

Costs are amplified because nearly 20 percent of income is remitted back to home counties.

Department of Homeland Security estimates there are 12.5 million illegal aliens.

The average American currently pays 30 percent of their income in taxes.

Because the vast majority of illegal aliens hold low-paying jobs, many actually profit from filing a tax return because they receive tax credits.

Many illegal aliens work in the underground economy and pay no tax whatsoever.

Victor Hanson, in the Hoover Institution Journal, has documented the devastating civic cost of illegal immigration. Foremost is the loss of the idea of citizenship in a consensual society. Our citizenship is based upon the shared assumptions codified in our Constitution. That is what unified this nation of immigrants. We are a nation built upon shared ideas, not ethnicity. The first pillar of citizenship is the right to control its borders. Without borders, a consensual society cannot make laws for its own. We must have secure borders. A second pillar is the sanctity of the law. We must enforce our laws and eliminate sanctuary cities. The third tenet is the equal applicability of law regardless of class, gender, race or religion. Sadly, U.S. citizens are daily confronted with the unequal application of law.

The financial and civic implications of the failure of our leaders to solve this problem is an existential threat to our country. The solution to this problem is long overdue and we must demand that leadership act decisively and swiftly.