I have a friend who is not a political animal. She keeps up, vaguely, with what’s going on, but long ago made the decision that caring about politics was too painful and, when the politics got serious, too frightening. Still if something is important enough to be “in the air,” she picks up on it and forms opinions.
I therefore asked her what she thought about the fact that the Immigration Reform Bill went down in flames today. “It’s terrible,” she replied. This actually surprised me, because I didn’t know that she was so strongly committed to immigration reform. So I asked, “Why is it terrible?” The answer: “Because something needs to be done about it. We can’t have all these immigrants sneaking in.”
In other words, her understanding was that the Immigration Reform Bill’s primary purpose was to stop illegal immigrants at the border. She was surprised to learn that Immigration Reform, as envisioned by Congress, extended beyond border policing and into policies aimed at putting illegal immigrants on a fast track to citizenship, one that could take years, but would still place them in line ahead of other people who have gone the legal route. She and I talked it through, and were able to agree on a few overarching principles:
1. We have no problem with legal immigrants, regardless of their country of origin. The only caveat to that is that we feel that legal immigrants from terrorist rich environments (e.g., Iran or Iraq or Egypt), even if they’ve spent a few refining years in Germany or England first, should be closely scrutinized before they can come into this country.
2. We accept that the 12 million immigrants that are here cannot be shipped back to their countries of origin, simply because it’s not feasible to move so many people simultaneously — and an attenuated deportation is meaningless. In any event, with the border currently so porous, it’s a pointless exercise. In that regard, it put me in mind of the Rev. Sydney Smith’s comment to the effect that “Dame Partington . . . was seen . . . with mop and pattens . . . vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington.” Until we build a viable wall, shoving the illegals south for a few minutes, days or weeks, is about as fruitful an activity as Mrs. Partington’s efforts against the Atlantic.
3. In light of the above consideration, we believe that meaningful immigration reform can only begin with meaningful borders. There has to be a wall, not to keep Americans in, of course, but to keep illegal immigrants out.
4. As for the 12 million here, they have effected a fait accompli, and we may as well recognize that by giving them workers’ visas, so that they become visible and don’t skulk in the shadows where they can get into trouble. However, to the extent that they wish to obtain citizenship, they need to go to the end of the line, after all of the legal immigrants seeking citizenship have had first crack at it. In any event, I think they need to sit up and really beg for citizenship. My friend and I take serious issue with the concept that citizenship should be an automatic outcome of their being here. Citizenship should be earned, not just by making money, but by buying into being an American citizen and accepting the full American culture, including speaking English.
Filed under: Immigration