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Wednesday, 12 April, 2006

Every sensible immigration policy has two objectives: (1) to regain
control of our borders so that it is we who decide who enters, and (2)
to find a way to normalize and legalize the situation of the 11 million
illegals among us.

Our
commentator ignores, presumably with purpose, the possibility of
ferreting out as many individuals criminally employed as possible, and
making the legal situation so precarious for those who continue to
employ undocumented alien workers the risk is simply to great to
continue. Such a program would be useless were it not to include
legislation similarly criminalizing deliberate ignoring of the illegal
workers by both state and federal officials.

Start with the second. No one of good will wants to see these 11
million suffer. But the obvious problem is that legalization creates an
enormous incentive for new illegals to come.

We say, of course, that this will be the very last, very final,
never-again, we’re-not-kidding-this-time amnesty. The problem is that
we say exactly the same thing with every new reform. And everyone knows
it’s phony.

Not
only is the stated intention of such a program false on its face, it is
a program taken to encourage the further depression of the
national economy. One often hears the fraudulent but frequently
repeated argument that these workers take jobs Americans do not want.
One could make the argument that those who create the laws would not
seek employment polishing floors, picking vegetables or throwing up
“McMansions” for below minimum wage. Somehow the country persevered
through the twentieth century paying a living wage to resident and
citizen workers to do similar work. Indeed, in an era where quarterly
results were not the sole objective of business these workers managed
to spend their wages building cities and keeping businesses other than
their employers healthy and productive.

What do you think was said when in 1986 we passed the Simpson-Mazzoli
immigration reform? It turned into the largest legalization program in
American history — nearly 3 million got permanent residency.
And we are now back at it again with 11 million new illegals in our
midst.

How can it be otherwise? We already have a river of people coming every
day knowing they’re going to be illegal and perhaps even exploited.
They come nonetheless. The newest amnesty — the “earned
legalization” now being dangled in front of them by proposed Senate
legislation — can only increase the flow.

Those who think employer sanctions will control immigration are
dreaming. Employer sanctions were the heart of Simpson-Mazzoli. They
are not only useless, they are pernicious. They turn employers into
enforcers of border control. That is the job of government, not
landscapers.

Members
of Congress do not have the mettle to create penalties sufficiently
severe to stem the flow on the supply side.  Without this
element, any other legislation intending to stave the flow is simplistic,
insincere rhetoric.

 
The irony of this whole debate, which is bitterly splitting the country
along partisan, geographic and ethnic lines, is that there is a silver
bullet that would not just solve the problem but also create a national
consensus behind it.

My proposition is the
following: a vast number of Americans who oppose legalization and fear
new waves of immigration would change their minds if we could radically
reduce new — i.e., future — illegal immigration.
Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to
say it cannot be done. If one fence won’t do it, then build a second
100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put
cameras. Put sensors. Put out lots of patrols.

Such
a solution is naive in the extreme. It operates on the assumption that
the
television
pictures
of the long march 
through
the deserts are the only method with which the alleged undesirables
enter the country. Such a solution would make for great television, but
with trucks, shipping containers and official border crossings
providing access for countless individuals everyday, compounded by the
perpetual ingenuity of the criminal mind, such dramatic measures would
be ineffective. (If a reference could be found to Tyson’s moving
workers from central Mexico directly into Arkansas by private jet that
would bolster the argument)


Can’t be done? Israel’s border fence has been extraordinarily
successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more
determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans
crossed into South Korea in the last 50 years.

The
tax dollars required to re-create the Korean DMZ along 2000 miles of
land border between the United States and Mexico may make even Charles
Krauthammer dismiss the idea. While no numbers yet exist, it is
entirely likely a more aggressive policy regulating or preventing
criminal employment situations would not only cost somewhat less, but
provide the potential for a legitimate solution.

Of course it will be ugly. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck
bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps
aesthetics. And don’t tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you
build a wall to keep people in, that’s a prison. When you build a wall
to keep people out, that’s an expression of sovereignty. The fence
around your house is a perfectly legitimate expression of your desire
to control who comes into your house to eat, sleep and use the
facilities. It imprisons no one.

The
previous paragraph is nothing more than emotional bullshit.

Of course, no barrier will be foolproof. But it doesn’t have to be. It
simply has to reduce the river of illegals to a manageable trickle.
Then everything becomes possible — most especially,
humanizing the situation of our 11 million existing illegals.

If the government can show that it can control future immigration,
there will be infinitely less resistance to dealing generously with the
residual population of past immigration. And, as Mickey Kaus and others
have suggested, that may require that the two provisions be sequenced.
First, radical border control by physical means. Then shortly
thereafter, radical legalization of those already here. To achieve
national consensus on legalization, we will need a short lag time
between the two provisions, perhaps a year or two, to demonstrate to
the skeptics that the current wave of illegals is indeed the last.

This
proposal is an attempt to create satisfaction for everyone who isn’t
watching closely. By creating a useless and profoundly expensive
barrier while satisfying the need for major contributors and the
nebulous category of “business” to retain ridiculously underpaid
workers, one accomplishes very little at great expense with a potential
for short lived positive headlines. It may be worth the investment for
Congress, as we are operating in an election year.

This is no time for mushy compromise. A solution requires two acts of
national will: the ugly act of putting up a fence and the supremely
generous act of absorbing as ultimately full citizens those who broke
our laws to come to America.

If
this is no time for mushy compromise, then this entire article must be
remanded to the dustbin of history.

This is not a compromise meant to appease both sides without achieving
anything. It is not some piece of hybrid legislation that arbitrarily
divides illegals into those with five-year-old “roots” in America and
those without, or some such mischief-making nonsense. This is full
amnesty (earned with back taxes and learning English and the like) with
full border control. If we do it right, not only will we solve the
problem, we will get it done as one nation.

This
is, and is intended to be, a compromise meant to appease both sides
without achieving anything. The proposal of back taxes for the
undocumented and impoverished, learning English and such, may be
intended to be a back door for when this proposal fails in its assumed
purpose, or it may be simple “feel good” bullshit for the
hoi polloi red
staters of a kind who believe Jesus Christ spoke English. The entire
program as proposed is unworkable, profoundly expensive and unlikely to
accomplish anything more than generous contracts to well connected
construction companies. These companies, presumably, will use illegal
immigrant labor to reduce costs.

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