Republicans are in danger of embracing “comprehensive” immigration reform — which is to say, amnesty — out of panic. The GOP does need to do better among Hispanics and other voters, but this is not the way to achieve that — and, more important, it is bad policy. A formal policy of refusing to enforce the law is not obviously the best substitute for an informal policy of refusing to enforce the law. Which all things being equal, this is what President Obama has done. Yet in an once overachieving nation that has run according to the rule of law, it appears that once again the country suffers for its egomaniac and arrogant president, that doesn’t seem to realize that his word – his bond – is as shabby as any union boss’ has ever been. For example,
THE PRESIDENT: “But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true.”
Now this is where we at The Contemplative Thinker begin to get confused. On the one hand, in signing a Memorandum directing to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano then she apparently passed the Memorandum to the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for implementation.
The Reagan-era Immigration Reform and Control Act conferred amnesty upon some 3 million illegal’s in exchange for promises of stepped-up enforcement at the border and in the back office, further it included a mandatory enlistment into the military or a minimum of two years of college. But the sanctions never quite materialized. Even though some improved security measures were implemented after 9/11, the Bush years saw a 40 percent increase in the population of illegal’s, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Our immigration system is in need of deep reform, but amnesty is not the first item on intelligent reformers’ to-do list, if indeed it belongs on the list at all. All decent people have a measure of sympathy for those who, driven by desperation, come illegally to the United States seeking work to provide for themselves and their families. That they so frequently work at low wages in miserable conditions and that they are vulnerable to every kind of abuse is reason for deeper sympathy still. But the solution to their plight is not to abandon the law, any more than the solution to the plight of Les Misérables is to legalize the theft of bread.
The rule of law exists to alleviate misery, not to mandate it. We know from historical experience that immigration amnesties serve only to encourage yet more illegal immigration, and the suffering and disorder that go along with it. Illegal immigrants constitute a permanent underclass, the growth of which is in the long-term interest of the citizens neither of the United States nor of those immigrants who aspire to citizenship. Stopgap measures such as “temporary guest worker” programs simply convert that underclass from de facto to de jure.
There are many steps we can and should take toward improving our national immigration regime. And for those who are here illegally, especially those who were brought here as young children, our policy options are not restricted to amnesty or round-ups and mass deportations. As anybody who has ever missed a credit-card payment can attest, we have more than sufficient information technology to identify whether people who are cashing paychecks, renting homes, or transacting ordinary business are in fact legally authorized to do so. Until the borders are physically secured, our most effective and most humane option is steady, consistent, judicious workplace enforcement. We do not lack the national means to enforce the law, only the political will to do so.