Category Archives: Immigration

The Border Emergency

Four years ago, I wrote:

One can construct a sensible immigration policy around the notion that the borders should be open. Such a policy would necessarily include restrictions on receiving public benefits, and effective enforcement against the relative handful that are genuinely criminal or otherwise dangerous.

Alternately, one can construct a sensible immigration policy around the notion of closed borders. Such a policy would include physical border security, and an immigration bureaucracy that actually works, so that our closed borders do not interfere with legitimate travel and tourism.

The horrifying thing is that we’ve done neither, and are continuing to do neither.

I’ll amplify a bit: our laws and regulations are based on the premise that the border is secure.  It’s against the law to simply walk in without presenting yourself and your stuff to the designated officials at the border.  Yet the border itself is not secure, and most of our leadership—both Democratic and Republican—seems OK with that.

Four years later, nothing has changed, despite our being more than halfway through the term of a President who made border security his signature issue.

President Trump asserts that there is an emergency at our southern border which requires him to reallocate funding from other purposes to build a wall and take other measures to secure the border.  Meanwhile, the rest of our leadership denies there is an emergency, and further asserts that Trump is bonkers for saying otherwise.

Is there an actual emergency?  I don’t know first-hand: I don’t live there.  And whatever may be happening there, one could argue that it’s hardly an ‘emergency’ because the same conditions have prevailed for years.

But reports from the people who live at the border suggest, if not an emergency, a continuing, serious problem.  And the government’s figures show that, after reaching a low in early 2017 (perhaps in the belief that Trump might, actually, enforce the border?) illegal border crossings have surged back to where they were a few years ago.

Whatever may be happening at the border, the real emergency is in Washington.

We have a President who has, like all Presidents, a duty to faithfully execute the law.  The law, in this case, operates on the premise that the border is secure, and there is therefore an executive responsibility to secure the border.  And President Trump is simply following through on that responsibility.

The emergency is that the rest of our leadership believes that enforcing the border is stupid or immoral or… something, and seeks to thwart the President from carrying out his duty.

If you really believe the borders should be open or that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be abolished, then make the effort and change the law.  If it’s really a moral issue, it’s a worthwhile project, although you won’t get results next week.

Until then, the law is what it is, and our President is bound to faithfully execute it.

Immigration Executive Action

Production Note:  This morning, I discovered the controls in WordPress that enable one to use one’s nickname to identify posts, etc.  So now my posts and comments are identified as belonging to ‘BklynGuy.’  But it’s still me.

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Last Thursday, President Obama announced a plan to grant residency to those illegal immigrants who had been here for five years and had citizen or permanent resident children.  I missed his speech on Thursday night, but tuned in to some of the commentary on the Spanish television networks.  They all thought it was a really good idea, and were looking forward to more action in the same vein.

On the other hand, one of my conservative colleagues sent me the following:

Each and Every Illegal Alien Is a Criminal

Well, maybe.

Illegal immigration, as the name implies, is against the law.

So is murder.

And so is speeding.

And in the continuum of breaking the law, illegal immigration is closer to speeding than murder.  And an appropriate punishment is closer to speeding than murder: pay a fine, face an administrative penalty (points on one’s driver’s license for speeding; something similarly relevant for illegal immigration), and be done with it.  For the moment, I’m not addressing other crimes that one might commit on top of being an illegal alien: that’s a different kettle of fish, and one I’ll get back to at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, the President struck back with this item:

White House Immigration

On the surface, it seems a perfectly reasonable approach.  It is, indeed, such a reasonable approach that we tried it in the 1980s.  We provided a path to residence and citizenship for those already here, together with allegedly better border enforcement and penalties for employers who hired illegal aliens.  But we didn’t follow through on that last part, so instead of 4 million illegal aliens, we now have 12 million.

There’s nothing to suggest that this time wouldn’t be different.  From past events this year, it’s difficult to imagine the Obama administration actually working to secure the border.  It seems to be in their interest to keep the ‘humanitarian crisis’ going.  But, again from past experience, I don’t see that someone else would do much better.

Beyond that, Obama has incrementally used executive action to get around the  law in progressively larger steps.  Besides the scandals, there was the tweaking of Affordable Care Act requirements to make his administration politically palatable.  This move on immigration is the biggest and boldest yet, and if we let it stand, further usurpations of power are inevitable, not only by Obama, but future Presidents as well.

Should I write to my Congressman or Senator?  It seems pointless: they’re all total Democrats who worship the ground our President walks on.  I should save my breath to cool my porridge.

But the bottom line:

  • Our immigration system is broken.  Despite all the rhetoric, in fact, both parties like it that way and want to keep it.  The Democrats like it because immigrant families are part of their power base; the Republicans like it because illegal immigrants push wages down for everybody.
  • For that reason, it’s hard to believe that our leadership will enact real immigration reform.
  • And if they do, whether that reform will be actually implemented, without backfiring on itself, is even more doubtful.
  • I noted earlier that merely coming here illegally is closer to speeding than murder.  But if someone here illegally commits other crimes, we should throw the book at him.  But too often, our leadership seems to wink at it.  One of our ongoing scandals is that of illegal immigrant families claiming not only their own families as dependents on tax returns, but also their relatives back in their homeland, and our leadership doesn’t seem to care.  We have to start caring.
  • The Republicans will moan for a few months about Obama’s abuse of executive authority, but they’ll ultimately let it stand.  After all, they wouldn’t want the Democrats to come after a Republican President doing the same thing.

The illegal immigrants aren’t the problem.  It’s the bloody politicians.

 

Something Fishy

The Obamoids recently sent out this video:

Supposedly, immigration reform is a wonderful idea because, even considering the additional social services that some of them might require, we’ll be far ahead in terms of jobs and economic growth.

I don’t subscribe to the common belief that immigrants are an unmitigated drain on our resources and our society.  I live in New York City, a place built by immigrants, and I see that wondrous things happen when the brightest people from around the world come together.

On the other hand, I also know that some immigrants are a drain on the system, and worse, the government, particularly the Federal government, doesn’t seem interested in doing anything about it.  My sense is that it pretty much balances out overall, although some places do suffer because, locally, there are very many more who are draining than contributing.

I’ve written before in these pages that both parties, contrary to their rhetoric, actually like our mangled immigration system the way it is, as it serves their respective purposes. So I’m skeptical of any proposal on general principles.  But the notion that immigration reform would somehow boost the economy seems ludicrous.

Am I missing something?

Immigration ‘Reform’

President Obama was speaking in Texas the other day about immigration reform.  His proposals are dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House and tepid Senate, but he was at it anyway:  “Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he said of the Republicans. “Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.”

He’s probably right.  But that isn’t the real problem.

One of the basic attributes of a nation is that it has the right to decide whether to allow people and things in and out.  We’ve failed at that for quite some time, and while there has been progress in building a fence (which, in itself, is not a bad idea), there are still wide open spaces that the Border Patrol cannot practically supervise, as well as criminal elements with a vested interest in moving across the border on their own terms.

But let’s imagine, for a wild moment, that today we installed a hermetically sealed border: nothing could get in or out unless the designated authorities allowed it.  Drug smugglers and terrorists are kept out; business travelers can pass through freely; other people can get in if they have the resources and patience.  Fine and dandy.

OK: what do we do about the roughly 12 million that are already here illegally?   Right now, the government doesn’t generally go looking around for illegal aliens.  If they cross paths with one, he might get deported, but maybe not.  But that satisfies nobody.

One approach is that favored by Obama, and Democrats in general: provide a path to legal residence, and ultimately citizenship, for those who are worthy of it (as demonstrated by living here peacefully, paying one’s taxes, otherwise not breaking the law, etc.).

It’s a practical solution.  It was so practical that it was actually done in the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan.  But we were supposed to couple that with reinforcing the border and making it harder for illegal immigrants to get jobs, and we didn’t really do that part.  So here we are again.

Some on the right have suggested mass deportations as a solution.  But that is a nonstarter for many practical reasons, most obviously because we would have to overtly turn our country into a police state in order to make sure we got everyone.  And as soon as an American citizen got deported inadvertently, all of the politicians who were responsible for the plan would be on their way out, routed by a groundswell of popular anger.

So the Republicans simply say ‘no amnesty,’ and nothing changes.  (Never mind, by the way, that providing a path to residence through paying a fine and filling out piles of paperwork does not constitute ‘amnesty.’)  And we have an underclass of scared people who are willing to work for very little, which drives down wages for the rest of us.  Is that what America stands for?

Perhaps not, but eerily, it’s what the Republicans stand for.  The modern Republican stands for lower taxes, less regulation, and less of everything that can get between a businessman and his profits.  If government policy can be used to lower wages, then that’s good, too.

But if what you really want (although won’t admit) is to keep a scared underclass on hand to lower wages, then a secure border isn’t really very helpful.  As for the criminals who might sneak across, the answer is simple: live somewhere else.

So while the Republicans profess to be defenders of the realm, they’re really defenders of the status quo, because that’s what best serves their real interests.

And if that weren’t enough, there’s also the other reason for ‘no amnesty’ that is more acceptable in polite company: if the currently illegal immigrants ultimately became citizens, they’d probably be Democrats.