The Immigration Debacle

May 21, 2007

The almost-stealth immigration bill light-speeding its way through Congress represents all that is wrong with politics and an elitist political class that is too far removed from its constituencies.

There is so much wrong with this bill procedurally, and substantively, that one can barely scratch the surface in a short column, but I’ll recapitulate some of the most egregious concerns and share a few pet peeves.

First, we are bogged down in a semantic debate over whether the bill constitutes “amnesty.” Open-borders apologists take umbrage at the term, saying the bill does not constitute amnesty because illegal immigrants will be punished, never mind how inconsequentially.

But I would argue that those insisting it is amnesty are, in a sense, understating their case. In certain respects it’s worse than amnesty. Not only will criminal violators of the immigration laws receive a mere wrist-slap for their infractions; they will be rewarded for them.

Consider the treatment of those convicted of other crimes — take stealing, for example. The convict not only faces criminal penalties; the law seeks to restore him and his victims to their status prior to the crime, to the extent that’s practicable or possible. The bank robber is not allowed to retain the fruits of his crime. He must pay restitution, if applicable, in addition to whatever fines or jail time to which he is sentenced.

By contrast, millions of illegal immigrants under the bill would not be sent back home but would become legal permanent residents of this country. By being allowed to stay, they would be, in effect, keeping the fruits of their crime. More importantly, many of them would become recipients of federal government largesse via a smorgasbord of entitlements.

As reported in the Washington Times, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector calculates that during their lifetimes, they will likely receive “$2.5 trillion more in government services than they will pay in taxes.” Among those benefits are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, public housing, subsidized college education and Social Security Disability Insurance. So those persisting in challenging the amnesty characterization should be reminded that many illegals will be receiving an enormous economic windfall to accompany their anemic wrist-slapping.

Second, many of the bill’s proponents have long resorted to ad-hominem assaults on the opponents, falsely portraying their valid, prudent, noble and patriotic opposition as racist, nativist and ultra-restrictionist.

But again, those who should have the burden of proof in this matter (the proponents) have turned the table on the opponents. How dare those who are promoting legislation that would flout the rule of law, reward criminal behavior, undermine our unique American culture, balkanize our society, dilute our sense of nationalism, make us more vulnerable to attack from our global terrorist enemies and coerce a massive redistribution of resources from lawful, taxpaying American citizens, call those who favor reasonable measures to preserve what is worth preserving about America — which has nothing to do with race or ethnicity, by the way — “racists”?

The misguided arrogance of those playing the race card to demonize open-borders opponents is staggering. Then again, inflaming the passions against your adversaries obviates addressing the issues factually.

I dare say that opponents of the bill would be opposed no matter the ethnicity or nationality of the windfall transferees. It’s not about their ethnicity; it’s not even primarily about them. It’s about the rule of law, our national security, the American culture, the English language, national unity during time of war, the constitutional rights of American citizens and the fiscal concerns of American taxpayers and their descendants.

It’s especially shameful that many of the bill’s greatest supporters are motivated by crass political concerns rather than the best interests of the United States. If it were otherwise, would they be so adamant about fast-tracking this bill and drafting it in duplicitous terms? On that note, be aware that some experts who have briefly studied the bill’s fine print have noted that the bill’s so-called “triggers” — the events that must occur as a sop to enforcement types before the wrist-brushings and windfalls kick in — are virtually defined out of existence in many cases by exceptions that swallow the rule.

One silver lining in this unfortunate series of events is that such cavalier displays of power by the elite governing class serve to catalyze patriots in this nation and crystallize their thinking about what is still right with America and worth preserving despite the highhandedness and callousness of those who masquerade as representing their interests.

Just say “no” to this legislation.