Who can and cannot be an American
When you consider that far more people want to come to America than we admit legally or come illegally, our immigration policy is mostly about who cannot be an American. The back log of those waiting to come to America, legally, is often held out as proof that our immigration system is broken. While I am sure that our immigration bureaucracy could be improved, the fundamental reason for this back log is that far more people apply to immigrate to the United States every year than, under current law, can be legally admitted. So it only follows that the back log grows year by year and hopeful immigrants wait and wait for their chance at the American dream. This is just one point where the logic of Immigration Reform starts to break down.
If we give illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, there is simply no way to overcome the opportunity cost to all those who are waiting in line for their chance at legal immigration. If our society and economy can accommodate 12 million more souls then was provided for by law, why not 12 million souls who are following the law and are waiting in line for their pathway to citizenship?
There is no constituency for a family living in Haiti or Bangladesh or Syria. There is no constituency for the millions or tens of millions of people that live in the countries far poorer and more war-torn than the countries of origin of the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. But these 12 million people have a large and powerful constituency. They have their fellow countrymen and family members that were granted legal status by the 1986 amnesty. They have their children that are US citizens. They have their employers. They have census and apportionment processes that bestow them with political power. And they have their physical presence inside our borders. They have presidential politics on their side. All of this political power has its genesis in illegal acts. Our immigration policy has been co-opted by a population with a proximity to our border and a willingness to violate our immigration laws and commit document fraud on a massive scale.
There is also no way to overcome the fundamental fact that normalizing 12 million illegal aliens is rewarding their illegal acts. To believe otherwise is pure self-delusion.
Immigration Reform, as proposed, is not about fairness, it is not about our immigration traditions, it is not about what is best for the economy, not from the view point of working families anyway. Immigration Reform is about a political expediency, it is a one percent solution that puts the desires of business above working families. It is about both parties believing that Immigration Reform is critical to winning the White House
It is often said that we cannot deport 12 million people. That is true, our government simply cannot bring itself to identify and deport illegal immigrants. I can hear my Democratic friends, the ones that I have left, howl with rage: Obama, they would say, has deported far more illegal immigrants than G.W. Bush. They are right, but doing better than President Bush was not a high bar to get over. Both the Bush and Obama administration held out the promise of Immigration Reform and have sent a clear message to illegal immigrants to remain in the country and for new illegal immigrants to come in anticipation of a pathway to citizenship. Obama’s policy of focusing enforcement on a small segment of the illegal immigrant population is designed to give most illegal immigrant the opportunity to do just that, remain in the United States until amnesty is past.
I have often wondered what would be the impact on illegal immigration if the President, any President, would have gone before the nation to announce that our immigration laws would be vigorously and consistently enforced and that illegal immigration will no longer be tolerated. This kind of basic statement of policy has never been made by any President because it has been federal policy for decades not to enforce our immigration laws.
After the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, when we reset our immigration policy by normalizing 3 million illegal immigrants, we were promised that our immigration laws would be enforced. We were promised workplace enforcement and more secure borders. How did that work out? Twenty seven years later and our illegal immigrate population has grown to 12 million individuals. The 1986 Immigration reform failed 12 million times because we could not bring ourselves to identify and deport illegal immigrants.
And, what is different this time around? Nothing. It may sound jingoistic, but if you are not willing to enforce the law then you cannot expect the law to be obeyed. You can secure the borders, great, but illegal crossing will continue. Forty percent of illegal immigrants simply overstay their legal temporary visas. You can punish employers that hire illegal immigrants, great, but if you do not deport the employees they will find their way back into the work force.
The only immigration enforcement policy that will ever work, if you plan to exert any control on an immigration policy, is deportation. Until we come to terms with this simple, undeniable fact; if we cannot bring ourselves to deport the most sympathetic of illegal immigrants, any attempt at Immigration Reform is an exercise in futility and self-deception.