Not anti-immigrant or anti-Hispanic. Just anti-cheat

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.


11 Responses

  1. Bookworm,

    Your usual perspicuity is not completely on display here; even Homer nods though, right? Your #2, that 12 million illegals cannot just be deported, and part of #4, that those here have essentially accomplished a fait accompli, I cannot agree with.

    A demonstrated will by this administration to stepped up enforcement will give would be intruders second thoughts, in just the same way that our wishy-washy, look the other way attitude has drawn them like flies to a honey jar. A sustained string of raids on the industries known to be harboring illegals–construction sites, packing plants, restaurants, etc., along with the beginning of enforcing the law actually in place against employers knowingly hiring illegals, would have a “chilling effect” (to use an old liberal standby) on everyone involved in this illicit commerce. The IRS audit system is a good example; they dont have to audit more than a tiny fraction of taxpayers to get the idea across to everyone.

    The twelve million, or at least a large percentage of them, would self-deport, in the same way they self-imported–one migrant at a time, by personal decision; the same way large social, economic, political, or cultural movements of any sort happen. People respond to incentives as well as disincentives pretty reliably. We don’t need 200,000 buses driving the length and breadth of the land picking up illegals, as the august Edward Kennedy tries to argue; if given the right motivation, they will leave under their own power, using the same ability of rational calculation that brought them here in the first place.

    Our problem, I’m sorry to say, is one of the laws not being faithfully executed, which can be placed squarely at the doorstep of the president, who has shown very little interest in seeing that these laws are executed. This I believe is a big contributor to the mistrust of the engaged public regarding the “comprehensive” immigration bill that was defeated today–no one believed its provisions would ever be enforced, regardless

  2. Bookie,

    Short & Sweet: 100% concur. This is not a “dignity” issue as many, including our President says. Processes are already in place to allow immigration. Let’s revert back to those processes, as they have served us well for decades.

    Have you attended any citizenship ceremonies? My last was in Boston as my Best Man and his darling wife were sworn in. The diverse folks in that hall showed some dignity as I was overcome.


  3. That’s an excellent point, pacificus. I hadn’t thought about self-enforcing. After all, we don’t get tickets every time we run a red light. But the reasonable possibility that we might be stopped — and that the penalty will be huge — is enough to curb red-light running. I must say, though, that red light runners have become endemic in San Francisco, which tells me that people are not self-policing. They’ve concluded that the either the likelihood of getting caught and the penalty itself are both too small to worry about. And with 12 million illegals, I suspect that a few showy round-ups of a hundred or so people at meat-packing plants are pretty irrelevant. And, since the consequence is being sent over the border, from which they can launch another journey, the punishment isn’t so bad either.

  4. Howdy Bookworm,

    Like pacificus, I think self-deportation could be done, but I don’t think a few showy raids will necessarily do the job. It would be a combination of things. I don’t accept that this is a fait accompli.

    For instance, many employers don’t even know they are hiring illegals because they hand the employers social security numbers and “valid ID”. Most employers don’t check that kind of thing, especially if we’re talking about minimum wage deal. We can do slow attrition deportation by checking these social security numbers.

    For this to work, we should go aggressively against the employers. We should make it so expensive for employers to hire illegal immigrants that they would go bankrupt for doing it (more revenue for the government and stopping the hiring of illegal immigrants).

    We can also deport our illegal immigrant prison population since we already know who they are. (We should. We’re paying for their daily living.)

    From there, I agree with Michelle Malkin when she said we can do attrition deportation. If we close down our borders and do attrition deportation, we don’t need 200,000 buses. Who ever said we have to do everything all at once?

    Now, I also believe that we should be very generous of illegal immigrants who genuinely wants to be Americans and not Mexicans or Colombians living in America. And they should go to the very end of the line of the naturalization process.

    But for the most part, America really needs to decide whether we’re a nation or the world’s treasury department.

  5. A lot of this immigration issue has to do with the solution to what the military figured out for Iraq and the terrorist strongholds there.

  6. […] [Discuss This Post with Bookworm at Bookworm Room] Share Article Immigration Reform Bill, immigration, Congress, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Americans, citizen    Sphere: Related Content Trackback URL […]

  7. I’m with you except for the wall. Unless you are going to put a wall around the eitire country it will be impossible to control the borders as long as we keep inviting people in and making it pay for them to come illegally.

    Yes, with economic opportunity, education and better health care here for the asking, we have INVITING millions of people here.

    We’ve proved we can absorb 12million people, so obviously the rules need to change to make it easier for people who wnt to come her to come legally. But we need to create the climate where legal immigrants get the advantage over the illegals. Right now they do not. If we can create the environment that encourages aliens to use the border controls to enter the country legally, we can get better control of the borders.

    If you build a fence they will go around, under and over as long as the benefits for living here outweigh the costs of breaching the wall. Hey, I’m proud we have a country that people want to sneak into. But if we put the human smugglers out of business, we can better differentiate the terrorists trying to blend in with common workers.

    Focus the border control on real security issues and we can have a more effective border. Stepped up enforcement will only give us a temporary feeling of security until they figure out the way around it. Again, as long as conditions exist that encourage, even INVITE, people to come here illegally, we will have a problem… wall or no wall.

  8. We’ve proved we can absorb 12 million people, so obviously the rules need to change to make it easier for people who wnt to come her to come legally.

    Have we? I’m not so sure… I think the jury is out on that one.

  9. Thomas,

    Yes we have proved it. Might things be better if we weren’t burdened with providing services… schools, hospitals, jails, prisons, social services, housing… for 12 Million illegal aliens, not all of whom are paying their share of taxes? Yeah probably so. but the fact remains they are here and the economy is booming… we are not in immediate danger of government services becoming insolvent the way much of Europe is.

    So, although many will argue that things might be better, the truth is that things are working well enough… still better than any other place on Earth. I’d say thats’ more than adequate proof we’ve absorbed them.

  10. Thomas,

    You made the further point that I didnt get to–that sanctions and pressure need to be placed on the parties with more to lose–the employers. The illegals have already demonstrated they have no regard for the law; businesses must however conform to laws or be shut down. Imagine any employer ignoring ADA,OSHA, or EPA regulations the way they do the law regarding hiring illegals. In other words, the government is well able to enforce the laws they actually have an interest in enforcing.

    And Oceanguy, the damage being done to our culture and society by people who dont give a rip about the rule of law, is only exeeded by the threat of a huge swing toward a permanent democrat majority in this country–God help us.

  11. The need to deport 20 million illegals is a red herring. I agree with Pacifus completely: “A sustained string of raids on the industries known to be harboring illegals–construction sites, packing plants, restaurants, etc., along with the beginning of enforcing the law actually in place against employers knowingly hiring illegals, would have a “chilling effect””.

    We must accept that we have been implicitly encouraging illegals to come here for years. It is time to stop the implicit encouragement. I can guarantee that an effective wall will cut down illegal immigration by at least 80%. Much of that reduction is based on psychologicy, as it includes the implicit message that we do not welcome illegals. A locked door and locked windows do not deter a serious criminal from gaining entry; but open doors and windows encourage nearly everyone to “come on in!”, and there are many people whose internal moral compass is not sufficiently strict enough who would view the open door and windows as an invitation. The fence, like a locked door and lock windows, tells that large number of people to move along. THEY WILL NOT CROSS.

    But employer sanctions are absolutely necessary as well.

    In speeding we need not ticket every speeder; the goal is to keep the traffic flow reasonably safe and controlled. Otherwise, various lanes would be occupied by travellers going 120 miles per hour, and even faster if they are able. THAT is the state of illegal immigration today. The fence, along with employer sanctions, with both efforts supported by a reasonable amount of enforcement, ends the terrible game we’ve been playing, by putting controls on the situation.

    (Arresting protestors for treason when they actually advocate secession to form the nation of Aztlan is another goal of mine – advocating secession truly is treason!)

    “The border crossed us, we did not cross the border”. Consider this statement, please. If “the border crossed us”, then they were here when the boundaries of the United States of America were formed, and they are American citizens. If they immigrated after that legally, then they have legal status, because they crossed the border. If they are here illegally, they crossed the border to do so. The statement, “The border crossed us, we did not cross the border” is complete nonsense. It makes sense only for those who were here already when the boundaries of our nation formed, and they do NOT WANT TO BE A PART OF OUR NATION. If they wish to form their own government, that is treason. They may leave if they hate us so and do not wish to remain a part of the great American experiment. No one in this country is stopping them from leaving.

    But I am digressing now.

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