(46) Mass exodus from big cities

The exodus of Caucasians from big cities began to clearly appear in the U.S. in the 1970s. Caucasian families seemed to believe that when an African-American family moved into their neighborhood, the neighborhood would soon become akin to Harlem, causing the value of their houses to plummet. Caucasian towns would use all kinds of ways to block African-Americans from moving in. This was not because they did not want African-American neighbors, but more because they were worried about the value of their houses.

An African-American walking around a Caucasian neighborhood would often be stopped by a Caucasian policeman on patrol, and in some severe cases would bring them to their police station and only release them after a needless investigation. This sent a strong message for African-Americans not to come near Caucasian neighborhoods.

However, there was only so much they could do, and if there was a sign of African-Americans moving into their neighborhoods, Caucasians with money would quickly sell their houses, even at lower prices than market value, to move out to the suburb. As a result, African-Americans began to dominate big cities, and housing prices plummeted there. As major department stores began to move out to the suburbs, brand new larger cities began to form in the U.S. at that time.

One example of this was Los Angeles. Its inner city, once part of a beautiful tradition, became a mess in the 1970s. The main streets of the city became like those of a Mexican city on the weekends. Hispanic songs blared from every store, everyone would talk loudly in Spanish, and the streets were filled with the odor of Mexican food.

People on the streets were mainly Mexican, African-Americans and Asians, which meant that the occasional Caucasian walking around looked out of place. It was an unpleasant area full of homeless people who begged for change, would bother pedestrians, and would demand money from drivers after the unwanted washing of their car windows. Come Monday, the city would return to a typical American big city full of well dressed people. However, soon Caucasians in LA would move out to the suburbs, to places like Orange County and the San Fernando Valley.

As this cycle continued, the once-beautiful LA gradually turned into a not pretty city. The famous Wilshire Boulevard was no longer flourishing, and the beautiful old European-style houses, where famous actors used to live, were sold at below market prices to African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and other immigrants. The Biltmore Hotel, a luxurious hotel with a long history, was also sold to Japanese investors.

Hollywood was in decline, and places for families to go on weekends gradually disappeared. Congress, in response, established the Community Redevelopment Agency to help revive downtowns. The idea was to set up a tax-exempt area downtown for redevelopment and draw the middle class back into the city. That was the time when the reinvestment of tax increment money began, and downtown LA was where this program was the most successful.

I once watched a news report about the concentration of the Korean population in Seoul. It said that half of the Korean population lived in Seoul and its nearby areas, and that almost 80 percent of the Korean economy was concentrated in Seoul. This was the opposite of the U.S.’s urban situations: as everyone came to Seoul, the population of rural areas reduced, local schools were closed, towns rapidly declined, and people had to bring their spouses from overseas.

Even building a new city outside of Seoul and moving government agencies there did not seem to stop the population increase in Seoul. People said that they would rather commute by KTX (bullet train) than leave Seoul, because of the major difference in education, medical services, and cultural life.

The problem in America was to bring the middle class families back to the big cities. To do this, LA built the now-famous Bonaventure Hotel, and the new area of high risers centered on the hotel was connected to downtown, changing the skyline of LA totally.

Following the government blueprint, as high rising condominiums and apartments with swimming pools and tennis courts were built in the inner city, the idea of enjoying city life appeared. As young couples, tired of commuting, began to move into LA’s downtown, it began to regain its own form.

However, it was not easy to give up residential areas with their open spaces, endless-looking lawns, good schools, and large trees. As expected, there was a limit to how much downtown LA would regain its old form. No matter how much money the government would pour into there, it fell short of drawing those still happily living in suburbs to the high risers in the city.

So the big cities of the U.S. play the role of a place to work for people who would commute there during the day and return home to their families 20-30 miles away in the evening. The American middle classes are satisfied with the suburban life, where they don’t have to send their children to crowded schools, while enjoy beautiful parks and big shopping malls with their families on weekends, even if they have to suffer traffic jams on weekdays.

From the early 1990s, young working couples began to return to inner cities, due to rising energy costs and ever-growing traffic jams. As Caucasians gradually returned to the big cities after 30 years, the life patterns of these cities began to change. Americans adapted to the busy life of big cities, where many races lived together.

Through this process, the negative opinions about Asians (especially Koreans) began to disappear, and the place of Korean-Americans in the U.S. greatly improved. Also, as excellent products made in Korea came to the U.S., American views on Korea changed as well. America finally became a color blind society, living together happily.

So now, with Korean-Americans holding higher status in the U.S., I hope that more Korean Americans will enter into politics. Who knows? It might not be long before a Korean-American will become a vice president.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com). The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Korea Times.

(45) System and people

I read a newspaper article that claimed the character of a nation is determined by that nation’s societal system. For example, it is due to its societal system that U.S. citizens live in an organized manner with a high level of satisfaction in spite of the U.S.’s land mass, where it takes a six hour flight from Seattle (in the northwest) to reach Miami (in the southeast). It has a population of nearly 300 million with numerous ethnicities and religions.

America’s societal system is why thousands of people immigrate to the U.S. from all over the world every day, leaving their native countries behind. When I was the mayor of Diamond Bar, Calif., Koreans flocked to my city after hearing that a Korean-American was mayor there. One day, a high school principal met with me to discreetly discuss a pressing issue.

He told me that there were a few Korean students at his school who drove expensive sports cars, lived in luxurious apartments, and held parties with loud music almost every night. These students’ rich parents would send a great deal of money to their relatives or acquaintances that lived nearby to look after those students; however, these people were often very busy and would just leave them alone. The principal had no choice but to come to me, a fellow Korean.

If the music from a house is too loud, their neighbor calls the police, who immediately come to order the volume lowered. If this happens again, the offenders are arrested and are only released if their bail is paid. However, if this happens a third time, the situation becomes very serious. The offenders are put in prison, because of California’s “Three Strikes” law, with no room for forgiveness or exception. In fact, it is not just students but also their parents that face many difficulties when they first move to the U.S.

However, whenever immigrants are asked which part of the U.S. they like the most, without hesitation, they pick the education system first. The Diamond Bar High School was known for its good academics in LA County, and Korean parents had a high tendency to move to areas with good schools. The second reason why Korean immigrants come is the so-called “American Dream.”

The U.S. is often called the land of opportunity, since ordinary people have opportunities to succeed with their hard work here. It was only because American society provides plenty of such opportunities that Bill Gates was able to become the richest man in the world after he started his business in his garage.

Some Korean immigrants told me that people could not succeed in their own native land without connections with higher-ups in political power or without extreme wealth. Though it is hard to take these words at face value, I was surprised when I learned that the owner of a big corporation manipulated its stock prices for his son to inherit it cheaply, and made his son a millionaire overnight. If you have a rich father, you can be rich in no time. This was in contrast to Bill Gates, who donated his whole fortune to charity without leaving it for his children, since he was certain that his children would succeed by starting from scratch due to their father’s legacy.

It is also a pity to see the high-profile politicians that were summoned by prosecutors in Korea. Two former Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo went to prison. In the cases of other former Presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, their sons spent time in prison. Even in the case of President Roh Moo-hyun, who was known as a person of integrity, his older brother is in prison and his son, nephew and wife were summoned by prosecutors.

I have never heard of a case where a former president or his children went to prison for corruption in the 250 years of American history. Is there any way to get rid of such corruption as the manipulation of stock prices or bribery in Korea? Among U.S. politicians, for example, Congressmen James Traficant (Democrat) and Randall Harold Cunningham (Republican) went to prison for taking bribes. Each of them was once a star of his party, but sentenced to eight years in prison.

In the U.S., the higher a person’s position is in society, the more severe punishment the person receives, because they are meant to be role models. Furthermore, if the person is found guilty, he loses the eligibility of any kind of public electoral position. He is branded as a criminal, and his family will also suffer. The severe punishments against corrupt officials and politicians are not so different from those against child-sex offenders.

Sexual offenders against children have to move out of shame even after finishing the sentence, because of the posters in their neighborhood that brand them as child-sex offenders. However, their crimes usually tend to be known in the areas to which they move, and they end up having to move to rural areas where they won’t be recognized and live out their lives in shame.

The common element in the corruption cases in the U.S. and in Korea is that the accused deny the fact that they received bribes until the end. They say in the U.S., “Deny, deny, deny!” Even presented with the evidence by prosecutors, they will deny any knowledge of the crime in question. One thing to be careful of is lying. Perjury will turn a five to 10 year sentence for contempt of court.

Without a heartless judicial system, it would have been difficult to govern the U.S. The judicial system does not leave any room for anyone, no matter what the person’s status might be, to commit crimes without having to pay the price. Of course, it is not appropriate for a society of a single ethnicity, such as Korea.

However, even Americans were surprised at the news that one million Koreans were pardoned by the president’s special amnesty. When I saw that people in high places were pardoned for their contribution to society, I thought about the practice of amnesty in the U.S., where a president pardoning just seven people drew severe criticism.

Recently, I saw a case where good-behaving prisoners were pardoned due to the lack of the prison space, even in some areas of the U.S. However, I think that the Korean system of amnesty is the wrong system, when I see criminals who held high offices waiting for the usual presidential amnesties on national holidays.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com).

(44) Repercussions of N. Korea’s long-range missile launch

It was Aug. 31, 1998, when North Korea launched a Taepodong-1, its first long-range missile. At that time, the world did not pay much attention to the launch of the missile by North Korea, one of the poorest countries in the world and the only remaining Communist dictatorship in Asia.

The focus of criticism against North Korea in those days was not on military security, but on its humanitarianism; people felt North Korea would be better served by spending that money to save the millions of its own people starving to death. The reason behind North Korea’s missile launch was for them to get a strong negotiating position with the U.S.’s Clinton administration, as well as to let the world know that it now has ICBMs.

Though that missile test ultimately failed (the missile broke apart over the Pacific Ocean, though not before scaring the Japanese), it was not a matter to be overlooked that North Korea had developed the technology to make a missile that could travel 1,620 kilometers.

Most troubling of all, this posed a serious threat to South Korea and Japan, and the thought of this technology being used by terrorist countries or organizations made people shiver. The House of Representatives introduced a resolution that sternly criticized the test with my name on it, and it passed overwhelmingly.

The resolution pointed out that the missile launch was inappropriate under the circumstances, after then-President Kim Dae-jung proposed the Mt. Geumgang tourism project as part of his “Sunshine Policy,” and that North Korea had been exporting its missile technology to countries like Iran, Syria and Pakistan.

The resolution urged President Bill Clinton to seriously reconsider providing food and energy aid to North Korea’s irrational, undemocratic government, especially since the U.S. government’s aid to North Korean citizens was being appropriated for the North’s military. It also contained strong words that the North should restrain from another missile launch. There was a severe attack on me on North Korean television based on this resolution that I introduced.

Eight years later, North Korea conducted another missile test. This test was also a failure, as the missile was dismantled in the air 40 seconds after its launch. Public opinion was strongly against North Korea, which continued to test missiles while its people were starving to death.

The Asia Pacific Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a closed hearing with intelligence officials. Democratic members, whose party was the majority at the time, criticized intelligence agencies for not finding out whether it was a satellite or a missile that North Korea launched. They probed hard about the possibility of a North Korean missile to reach Hawaii someday, but could not get a satisfactory answer from our intelligence agency.

In fact, most members of Congress did not have much knowledge of or interest in North Korea, other than the unfavorable impressions about the country in terms of human rights. However, the tearful testimonies from those who escaped from the North in their special congressional hearing made many members began to hate the North Korean regime.

The general opinion of Democratic and Republican members was that North Korea should be considered part of the “Axis of Evil,” as long as it did not provide food for its starving people with the money it spent on missile launches and did not improve its poor human rights situation.

North Korea launched a long-range rocket (Unha-2) to put a satellite, Kwangmyongsong-2, on its orbit a few days ago (April 5, 2009). This time, the rocket flew 3,200 kilometers into the Pacific Ocean. Considering that the distance was twice as long as the one in 1998, the North Korean missile technology can no longer be the butt of jokes.

This shows that North Korea is, in fact, close to having the ICBM technology. It’s especially frustrating in that, unlike the last launch, the entire world, including China, gave strong warnings to North Korea, and the U.S. and 27 European countries made a joint statement to urge the stopping of the launch. However, North Korea still ignored those please.

It is a well-known fact that China has strong influence on North Korea, because it depends greatly on China in every sector of its economy, including energy and other necessities. These days, China has raised its status to the top in the world. When I was a House Representative, no one in Congress believed that China would become a world power in such a short time. And only few people had good impressions about China. However, obviously things have changed now.

President Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts for reconciliation with North Korea. I can hardly understand why the North still depends only on China, dismissing its brethren in South Korea. I also wonder what the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, known for having very friendly policies toward North Korea, have done for their 10 years in power to make the North continue to ignore and despise South Korea. I only hope for the day in which North Korea will seek help from South Korea instead of China, and also trust and depend on South Korea.

It seems that a country that was embarrassed the most by the North Korean missile launch is Japan. It issued a false alarm twice, and even the Japanese press ridiculed the overreaction and panic from the Japanese government. Japan even declared that it would shoot down a North Korean missile with its Patriot missiles. This is ridiculous, since the North Korean missile in question flies 100 kilometers high, while the range of a Patriot missile is only 20 kilometers.

The boast of the Japanese government about the missile defense system of Japan ended up as a joke. However, the only thing that cannot be laughed over is that Japan will obviously take this as a great chance to increase its military capacity.

U.S. President Barack Obama has had to deal with urgent issues such as the economy and Afghanistan, and thought that agreeing to hold direct talks with North Korea would solve the issue of North Korea immediately. However, Pyongyang brushed this olive branch aside and launched a missile in response. The idea that a rational approach will bring out a rational response does not apply well in the case of North Korea. We must always be careful of its unexpected behavior.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com).

Failure in free-lunch referendum [The Korea Times] 09-19-2011

By Jay Kim

Watching the referendum on the free lunch program held in Seoul last month was like watching an episode of a detective program. In the United States a referendum is usually initiated by citizens reacting against incapable politicians, and almost never by the mayor, the head of a city government.

A referendum, which relies on the opinions of the people, is always a politician’s last resort, since it is regarded as a sign of weakness in his leadership. That means that a referendum is hardly ever put into motion, unless a politician is certain that it will pass overwhelmingly after conducting several polls, public hearings, and solicitations of opinions of civic organizations and experts.

I heard that Mayor Oh Se-hoon is very popular among housewives in Gangnam, southern Seoul, for his young age and good looks. This may have made him arrogant, or maybe the attacks of the majority Democratic Party members of the city council and the superintendent of education made him lose patience; however, his referendum was too rash and handled too hastily. Oh was nominated by the ruling Grand National Party and elected as mayor with its help.

Instead of making a decision on his own, it would’ve been wiser if he had discussed the idea with the GNP and let the party lead the referendum effort. By the time he reached out to the party for help, it was already too late. He announced that he would not enter the next presidential race to change the mind of Park Geun-hye, a member of the GNP and the party’s most prominent presidential hopeful, but this was also in vain.

Finally, in desperation, he announced that he would resign if the referendum failed with tears in his eyes, but even this was unsuccessful in the end. The free-lunch referendum actually became a vote of confidence in Oh.

I find this to be strange. Also strange is the law that referendum votes are not even counted unless at least one third of those eligible cast votes. I believe that these votes, which cost 31 billion won in taxpayers’ money, should be counted so that the result may be known to the citizens.

Only then would people know whether Oh actually won in terms of the votes counted. It is a real pity to throw away these votes after spending such a huge sum. In the U.S., ballot boxes must be opened regardless of the voter turnout.

The opposition’s slogan, urging people not to participate in the referendum, is something I have never heard in the United States. In America, we spend millions of dollars to raise voter turnout and teach from elementary school onward that voting is both the right and duty of citizenship.

Telling people not to vote would cause a big stir in the United States. Not casting a vote is giving up the right to vote, and it’s an expression of the individual to follow the result unconditionally, no matter what the result may be. Regardless of the voter turnout, a voting result is legal in the United States.

Abstaining from voting is regarded as irrelevant. It is not right to nullify the referendum by counting those that do not show up. The condition of a required quorum is perhaps applicable to a board meeting, but not to a citizen referendum. Whether the turnout was one-third or one-fourth of the population, the ballot boxes should have been opened and counted.

I also wonder why Oh’s camp did not change the content of the referendum to make nonvoting a victory for him, since they would have been well aware of the required quorum. If they changed the wording and told people not to show up to vote if they oppose the full-scale free lunch program, then Oh might have won.

At any rate, watching this unfold was as exciting as an episode of “I Am a Singer,” the most popular TV program in Korea these days. I was reminded of a referendum initiated by the people of California in 1978, the famous “Proposition 13.” This bill proposed to roll property taxes back to 1975 levels and limit their annual increase to no more than 2 percent.

The result of this referendum, which was a reaction against the incompetent state assembly and governor, was overwhelming support for the bill (64.8 percent of the vote). There was no condition that a voting rate below one-third of the eligible voters nullified the referendum. What was important was how many people voted for it, rather than how many people did not.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com).

Ideological conflict [The Korea Times] 09-05-2011

By Jay Kim

America’s two-party political system is the most successful of its kind in the world. The two parties are the conservative Republicans and the liberal Democrats. For the past 200 years, several rival political parties have been founded and collapsed. A communist party existed in the U.S. for many years, however it eventually collapsed around the same time the Communist Party collapsed in Russia.

For over 235 years, both Republicans and Democrats have kept the two-party system going based on their clear ideological divides. Despite these ideological issues there is one issue on which they agree ― national security.

Even the now-unpopular Iraq War was almost unanimously agreed upon at the start. In contrast, the party in power in Korea, the conservative Grand National Party (GNP), and its opposition, the liberal Democratic Party (DP), fight on every issue. Each party opposes its counterpart, no matter the issue. Even on the issue of North Korea policy, which is related to national security, their opinions are almost polar opposites.

The big difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in the U.S. lies in their domestic policies. They both agree that the gap of wealth between the rich and the poor should be reduced to maintain a healthy democratic system. The big difference is in their methods to achieve this goal.

The Democratic Party claims that the rich will become richer and the poor will get poorer if the government allows the wealth gap to persist. It also claims that riots are caused by this wealth gap and that to avoid conflict, the government should increase spending on welfare programs to help the poor classes, even if it increases the deficit.

It believes that a social welfare system is absolutely necessary, that it is the minimum cost to be paid to prevent riots, and that it is the duty of government to eliminate poverty, even by raising taxes only for the rich. Both Democratic Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter advocated the “Great Society,” where the government played a role in helping to cure society’s ills.

Naturally, the Democratic Party became the party of people with liberal leanings that represented the low-income classes, ethnic minorities and unions. These groups often want a strong government, since they believe that poverty cannot be eliminated without the involvement of the government.

The original Republican Party was known as the “Party of Lincoln,” the man who abolished slavery in the U.S. Naturally, the overwhelming majority of blacks supported the Republican Party at its inception. However, they gradually began to feel antipathy toward the policies of the Republican Party, and now almost 90 percent of them support the Democratic Party.

Republican President Ronald Reagan said that bringing down the rich to help the poor would make both of them poor. He claimed that too much government support and aid would make people lose their desire to work, and that the U.S. would risk becoming a “Lazy Society.” Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, both of whom are conservative, advocated neoliberalism.

They reduced spending on both social welfare and income taxes under the banner of neoliberalism. The theory is that the increase in consumer spending caused by the reduced income tax rates would cause an increase in jobs created by corporations, which would result in an increase in the amount of income taxes that would strengthen the finance of the country.

In Korea’s case, we should decide which would resolve the economic polarization and allow us to move on from the situation where the country has been stuck for 13 years at the level of $20,000 GNI per capita. The choice between the “Great Society” advocated by Johnson and Carter and the “neoliberalism” advocated by Reagan and Thatcher is up to us.

The continuous ideological conflict between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party shown during the process of negotiation on the debt ceiling led to the loss of international trust in the U.S. and forced the country into a crisis that involved the downgrading of its credit. The public criticized the leadership of President Barack Obama in this process, and the prospects of his re-election suddenly look murky.

However, each party in Korea seems to compete against the other to show that it is more liberal than its counterpart. Conservatism has disappeared, and it seems that they run around without any direction, throwing away the principles of the party just to get votes. This should not happen. It especially makes me sad to see the so-called conservative GNP putting forward free government aid programs first.

Instead of trying to cut the budget proposed by the DP for welfare programs, which is almost 20 trillion won (13 trillion won for education, medicine, and care programs; 5.7 trillion won for the half-priced college tuition program), by digging into it item by item, the GNP went further to propose a half-priced tuition program, compensation for losses caused by the failure of savings banks, and even a free childcare program.

It is deplorable to see that the GNP and the DP compete against each other to try and win the heart of the nation with free-aid policies. I heard that the total cost would be 30 trillion won. I am worried how they will afford this and if it might exhaust the state coffers. I think that taxpayers are uneasy and afraid, wondering what kind of free-aid policy will come next for the coming months before the general election set for April.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com).

(43) Illegal immigration: headache of US

The issue of illegal immigration is one of America’s biggest headaches. According to government estimates, there are about 5 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.; however, some reports estimate that the number has already exceeded 8 million. The states near the Mexican border, such as California, Arizona, and Texas, have the most serious illegal immigration problems.

When I was a House representative, supervisors of Los Angeles County (which was part of my district) requested a hearing in the House on the issue, insisting that it was a critical financial issue for the county. According to their report, there were four problems California suffered due to illegal immigration.

First, 25 percent of the prisoners in their jails were illegal immigrants. Second, the cost spent on a prisoner is over $30,000 per year. Third, the cost of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) for the children of illegal immigrants is estimated to be about $500 million annually. Fourth, 25 percent of patients in hospitals run by the county are illegal immigrants.

During the hearing, the county stated that it could not afford the cost caused by illegal immigration. It claimed that the cost should be shared with the federal government, since the immigration law is a federal law and the federal government should be responsible for the problem of illegal immigration.

The next week, a similar hearing was held in New York by their state legislature. The discussion centered on drug-related crimes by illegal immigrants. Finally, the members of Congress from California led an effort to change the immigration law.

After many twists and turns, “S 1348,” an immigration reform bill, came out in 2007. The bill contains 320 pages of very complex legal writing, and it is not clear when it will pass.

On the one hand, the far-right conservatives of the Republican Party claim that all illegal immigrants should be deported to their countries, since they may be potential criminals. On the other, the far-left liberals of the Democratic Party argue for an amnesty which will forgive illegal immigrants and grant them permanent residency. It is never easy to find a compromise between the two sides. Furthermore, some young liberals claim that the Mexican border should be opened and both Americans and Mexicans allowed to cross freely. They are called “open-border extremists,” and their influence cannot be ignored.

The Republican Party has hesitated to initiate any immigration law for concern it would be like poking at a hornet’s nest. Some Republicans thought that leaving the immigration law alone would be wiser, since if things went wrong it might be blamed on the Democrats.

There have been amendments to the immigration law proposed for political purposes. For example, the reform bill has articles such as building fences on the 370-mile-long border, adding 20,000 new border patrol agents, giving Z visas to illegal immigrants and allowing them to be eligible for permanent residency after eight years if they pay a $2,000 fine and return to their countries to apply for green cards. There are also complicated additional conditions, such as the number of Z visas issued should be less than 200,000 annually and the immigrants should be fluent in English.

Since the reform bill was originally proposed by some Republican members of Congress, it contained tougher requirements at first, but they were softened in the process of discussion.

The Democratic Party always welcomes a flexible immigration policy and claims that illegal immigrants should be accepted as long as they have not committed crimes. The intention behind this is to get Mexican-American votes and strengthen the political base by increasing the number of the Hispanic members of Congress. In fact, if a maximum 8 million illegal immigrants receive green cards and become U.S. citizens after five years, most of them will, presumably, support the Democratic Party.

Congressional Republicans have often requested that the Mexican government punish illegal immigrants crossing its border. However, the Mexican government has not helped very much, citing the lack of manpower as a reason. This made Republicans wonder if the Mexican government is really serious about changing the situation.

Most illegal immigrants are part of the working classes, and do not have any special skills or a good education. Many of these people live on government benefits, even in Mexico. Some members began to think that they are the burden of Mexico, and this makes one wonder if the Mexican government indirectly helps their migration to the U.S., thinking that it would be better for Mexico.

Many illegal immigrants are only able to find manual-labor jobs in the U.S. In fact, they often come to nationwide Koreatowns to work in restaurants. According to a report, 29 percent of them work in roofing businesses, 24 percent in agriculture, and 25 percent in construction. They now have become familiar with Koreatowns, and have become an indispensable labor force that does the tough jobs. These days, you can find about 50 of them, grouped in three or four, walking around on the streets of Koreatown in Washington, D.C. They are waiting for someone to hire them. Even the police cannot drive them away as long as they do not commit a crime.

The issue of illegal immigrants in the U.S., who barely make their living on a day-to-day basis, is a troublesome issue that does not seem to be going away.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com).