Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Lizards Blog nails it again...

This post here is probably the most eloquent posts on the current immigration system. One sentence makes my blood boil:
Immigrants, legal immigrants, are not people... not as far as Immigration is concerned.

This is unacceptable. Absolutely, totally, and completely unacceptable. As President Bush said in his speech on the immigration issue (which I think is almost as good as his speech before Congress on September 20, 2001):
We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.

As I discussed over two months earlier, laws can go wrong. Some of them are wrong from the beginning. When they cross the line into injustice - either intentionally (as in the case of racial segregation) or unintentionally (as was the case with the Volstead Act) - people eventually figure it out. Soon the number of victims becomes harder and harder to ignore. At some point, people start to defy the laws the perceive as unjust, and when that reaches a critical mass - then the problem begins.

When the scale of the lawbreaking reaches at least five times the size of America's present prison population (I ran the numbers here), the critical mass has probably been exceeded by a wide margin. There is no way to round up and deport them all. Getting them to self-deport will not happen, either - we'd have to make America more miserable for them than their home country. That would not only take some doing, there is just no way that an Administration or Congress that did so would survive politically - because there is just no way to limit it to illegal immigrants.

Too many people are trying to pretend this is simple. As I have explained earlier, it is not. Not only that, it is obvious that conservatives have been quick to see the flaws in agencies like the IRS, and various environmental bureaucracies (Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA). Yet when it comes to immigration... silence. Not only that, they demand the current system of laws be enforced to the letter.

Sorry, but I'm not buying that. When a system becomes this arbitrary, and does not treat people with dignity or respect, it will eventually be defied. When the defiance is widespread, the law will eventually collapse as people realize that there is no way that the government can get all of them.

Sadly, too many conservatives have mistaken mindlessly enforcing the letter of a law that has gone haywire for supporting the rule of law. They will probably ensure no immigration bill get s passed this year, meaning the problem will fester for at least another three years (because at least one conservative Senator is planning to run for President, and he will pander to the hard-line vote). They have decided the status quo is better than an ideologically impure solution, and some of these hard-liners have decided that misrepresentation and demonization of their opponents is acceptable conduct.

The tipping point is coming - and a lot sooner that some want to admit. If Republicans don't solve this problem now - it might be solved by people who come up with something that makes the Hagel-Martinez compromise or McCain-Kennedy look like strict enforcement. Those who came here illegally do not deserve a free pass to becoming citizens, but at the same time, it is neither possible nor just to deport every last one of them. Giving them a chance to come forward and pay a reduced penalty in exchange for their "guilty plea" is the only viable option left.

If this large-scale plea-bargain (not an amnesty) is combined with additional border patrol and ICE agents, as well as additional border surveillance assets, increased legal immigration quotas, and a rational system that has objective requirements that people will know they must meet in order to get a visa, green card, or to become a citizen, this country will have a very good chance at solving the issue over the long haul. But that will mean politicians - creatures not known for having spines - will have to stand up to the hard-liners. That's not happened very often.


Kip said...

Prez Bush is such a legend. On the really hard issues he always gets it perfectly right.

All conservatism should be compassionate.

And asssuming a government did decide to deport 10+ million people, what would happen? It would mean civil disturbance on an unprecedented scale, and the party that instigated it would be wiped out for all time -- gone the way of the Whigs!

(I have a post here: What is this, 1945?)

The Hedgehog said...

Well said, Harold. I'm encouraged by the mini-explosion of solid thinking on this issue in the last several days. I've linke to you and the others you link to and hope these voices will be heard on talk radio, which is far too politically correct these days.


Gilbert_Sundevil said...

Mr. Hutchison,

I'm new to your blog, but have tried to read a few of your archived posts to get a feel for your stand on the immigration issue. I gather that one of the reasons behind your anti-enforcement stance has to do with the fact (point of agreement) that our current immigration law isn't being obeyed to the tune of 12-20million. If I follow correctly, this huge act non-compliance is evidence that the law needs to be changed and a guestworker/citizenship program needs to be implemented as soon as possible. The "throw-up-our-hands-and-cry-uncle" argument? May I ask a couple of questions?

Based on the above, are there laws that the government should always make an effort to enforce, regardless of the volume of acts of disobedience? I've seen quite a few news stories over the last couple of months about female adults (usually teachers) having sexual relations with minor boys. Prosecute these women? Is there a specific number of instances of this occurring where we decide to change the law and drop the age of consent for boys to 14 or 12? If the instances become prevelant and we decide to debate this change, how should we go about it? Because the problem is prevelant, should those that favor a lower age of consent dismiss the arguments of those prudes who want the age to remain 18? Should the 'Prudes' write to their congressmen and attempt to elect those that agree with their decision?

Secondly, let's assume that a "comprehensive" bill to your liking is passed. In five years, if employers are again hiring illegals and the federal government isn't enforcing the provisions of the law, do we change it again to make it more liberal? Another change five years after that? A complete deconstruction of all border barriers a couple of years later? Where, if ever, do you stop and decide it's time to enforce the law and deport people? If not now, why then? I would personally like to see us try a couple of years of enforcement first.

Ken Prescott said...

Gilbert, you've seen a lot of stories about teacher-student sex because that sells newspapers and gets eyeballs on televisions. The number of stories is not indicative of massive, widespread numbers of teacher/student liaisons. In other words, your argument is specious at best, and utterly dishonest at worst (assuming that you actually understand the real numbers, as opposed to merely being stupid enough to believe whatever the dinosaur media chooses to tell you).

If people of your mindset had been tasked with dealing with Prohibition, they would have demanded absolute enforcement of the Volstead Act before allowing any consideration of repealing the 18th Amendment--followed by many of those same people taking a nip from their hip flask. The 18th Amendment would still be on the books. It would still be as widely ignored as it was.

The present immigration laws were put into place as a liberal social experiment in 1965. Prior to 1965, we didn't have a unmanageable illegal immigration problem. From 1965 onward--in other words, literally as long as I've been alive--we've had an illegal immigration problem that beggars the imagination.

We deride the other 1960s liberal social experiment--the so-called "Great Society"--as an ignoble failure.

It's time to write off this social experiment as a similarly ignoble failure, and return to what has actually worked; Pence's program is closest to that.

Gilbert_Sundevil said...

Mr. Prescott,
I was using the teacher/student sex only to put a sharper point on my question. I'm aware that the problem is not widespread. Again, are their any laws that the government should attempt to enforce regardless of how many people are disobeying them?