Friday, May 18, 2007

Don't Look! Hide Your Children!! It's Amnesty!!!

Reading some of the reactions to the immigration bill that passed the House yesterday, one might think the word "amnesty" is the dirtiest in the English language.

Above a picture of senators laughing, Katheryn Lopez writes, "Let's pretend it's not amnesty."

Charles Krauthammer: "Look, this is clearly amnesty."

John Hinderaker at Powerline: "I'm afraid that no matter what the 'compromise' ostensibly consists of, the feature that will actually be implemented is amnesty for the 12 million existing illegals."

John Mirengoff at Powerline: "The only part of the program a conservative rationally can expect to work is amnesty."

And Michelle Malkin, of course, hasn't stopped muttering the "a" word since the House vote.

And so on and so on and so on ...

So, why, exactly, is amnesty such a dirty word? According to one politician, because it means people broke "our nation's laws" to get into the country. Congressional authors hoping to avoid charges of amnesty created a series of penalties that, once paid, allow illegal immigrants to enter a path toward citizenship. The punitive process involves paying a $5,000 fine, returning to your native country, applying for citizenship (at which point you're allowed back), and then waiting anywhere from eight to 13 years.

Is this not harsh enough? To many on the right, it's tantamount to a get-out-of-jail free card. Which makes me wonder: Just what do they want? Nothing short of deportation? (For Mark Krikorian, that's a rhetorical question.) Seriously, though, can anyone actually imagine attempting a mass round-up and send-off of 12 million people? It would be a ghastly affair, with mothers being torn from the arms of their American-citizen children.

So if it's not mass deportations, as Krikorian favors, what policy suffices? The dearth of ideas on this front isn't dissimilar from anti-war types who proclaim their hatred of violence yet are conspicuously unimaginative about how to confront violence in its most aggressive forms.

Personally, illegally entering this country doesn't exactly strike me as the crime of the century. It's like leaving the gates to your swimming pool open and then scolding the children next door for using it -- even when you could see perfectly well the weekly pool parties they've been throwing for the last ten years from the comforts of your second-floor balcony. The only difference is that those who illegally enter America -- and I'm talking, for the most part, about Mexicans and South/Central Americans -- risk life and limb to do so. Not because they have some sort of vendetta against U.S. immigration formalities, but because their present circumstances are so unmitigatedly horrible that they've considered the options and deemed the potentially fatal risk worth taking. It may be illegal, but it's the sort of crime I could see myself committing were I in similar circumstances. (And I'm a pretty good guy.)

If politicians want to get serious about immigration, you can't continue leaving the gate open and then feigning outrage whenever people take advantage.

My solution? Build the fence. Then man it with immigration agents who can immediately process the new arrivals. America needs more people who aspire to be American. If overpopulation is a concern -- and I don't think it is -- some intrepid politician ought to think of a way to ease the ability to remove those who outwardly hate this country. Make space for those who love it, I say.


MSM said...

I am, of course, mostly concerned about the likelihood of terrorists slipping through our borders. I also have a large problem with people totally ignoring our laws and officials who either can't or won't uphold them. What's the point of passing laws if there's no serious intention of seeing that they're upheld? Finally, illegal aliens come here, don't pay taxes, but take advantage of what this country has to offer--at the great expense of our citizens.

This problem has long been ignored to the point where I honestly can't think of any way it can be effectively dealt with. This toothpaste definitely can't be put back in the tube.

Anonymous said...

The broader and often overlooked immigration issue, is that illegal employers are guilty of felony harboring charges and tax-evasion. The Heritage Foundation has published a position paper suggesting that illegal wages should not be allowed as deductions from gross profits -- go figure! Emloyment is the magnet, yet the IRS is not allowed to recover tax underpayments when a Social Security no match is discovered. Even after an ICE raid, I haven't heard of any tax audits occuring even though we now have proof of misconduct.

We have 11 million eyewitnesses to the crime of harboring unauthorized workers. Many of these witnesses are the victims of NAFTA, established undocumented workers, residing and working in the United States. In other areas of law enforcement, prosecutors often make "deals" with minor violators in order to prosecute the bigger fish. ICE should have an open door policy for persons with information leading to the sucessful prosecution of illegal employers.

These are the employers who are too lazy to even use the H-2A, H-2B (slave-labor) programs, why should they be trusted to withhold and remit employment taxes?

The permanent solution to employer misconduct, is to empower the undocumented alien to violate the illegal employer in exchange for legal permanent resident status. Employers would become unwilling to risk hiring anyone without impeccable documentation. Unemployed undocumented aliens would self deport.

Doesn’t it make better sense to prosecute the criminal employers instead of deporting all of the witnesses to the crime? Illegal employers have home addresses and assets to seize.

tom said...

MSM -- I agree having illegals in the country, using government services yet not paying taxes, is an issue needing remedy. That's why I believe giving these people a path to citizenship is responsible.

Anon -- An interesting idea, though not one I agree with. First, endowing illegals with the ability to rat on their employers in exchange for permanent residency is akin to having kids rat on their parents for speeding in exchange for free ice cream -- the rule would quickly destroy the family itself. Would it not be perverse to encourage illegals to seek out work under the condition they'll destroy whoever it is that eventually hires them? It would be chaos, with resentment on all sides. It would also be politically difficult. Many immigration hawks view illegals as the real transgressors, with their employers as mere abettors.

MSM said...

Gee, I thought there already was a path to citizenship.

Do you think that all of a sudden those who are here illegally will flock to sign up for the chance to pay a $5,000 fine, go home for a year, etc.? Why do you think this new law will work?

tom said...


I haven't said the law will work, only that it seems more fair than a universal program of deportation. Should any illegals not jump at the chance to become legit, by all means, kick them out. I just happen to think that no form of amnesty whatsoever is borderline inhumane when we're talking about 12 million-plus people.