Watcher’s Council forum on illegal immigration

The Watcher asked “Do you consider Illegal migration to America a problem, and if so, what would you do about the estimated 11 million illegal aliens already here?”  Not only did some of the Council members have an opinion on this one (or, given all of our busy lives, manage to meet the deadline), a few special guests responded too.

Here’s what I had to say, but I very much urge you to read the other responses, most of which make mine look pretty shallow:

The problem isn’t the number of illegal aliens — or, at least, the main problem isn’t the number of illegal aliens. The problem arises when our federal government boldly countenances and supports illegal activity. Ours has always been a nation of laws. Laws provide reliability, stability, justice, and equal opportunities. This is the covenant between the people and the government as explained in the Declaration of Independence and made manifest in the Constitution. Betraying this trust bespeaks a fundamental failure in the relationship between our federal government, which is responsible for using the people’s representatives to enact the laws and the people’s executive to enforce them. The free flow of illegal aliens across the borders — regardless of whether they’re people searching for a better life for their families, helpless young children, or hardened criminals — is a gaping hole in the existential fabric of a constitutional democracy.

So yes, I do consider illegal migration to America to be a problem. As to what to do with the estimated 11 million illegal aliens already here, that’s a more vexing practical problem. Ethically, I’d like to deport all of them, but I know that’s almost impossible to do and (yes, even a conservative gets this) that doing so is a humane problem. I would draw an admittedly arbitrary bright line (because there are no non-arbitrary lines) in the sand and say that those who have been here more than five years will get a temporary green card and must immediately put themselves on the waiting list (no priority) to become a legal resident. Those staying under the green card would then have all the legal rights and responsibilities of any other green card residents — and no greater rights. Those who have been here less than five years would get deported, but without prejudice to put themselves on the waiting list.

As for that waiting list, if the U.S. really needs the cheap labor illegal immigrants provide, then the laws should be changed ASAP to admit more legal immigrants. If we’ve been lying about the necessity of cheap labor, we need to be honest about that with the American public. Incidentally, lowering taxes, especially employment taxes, might reveal that the only virtue of illegal labor has been the ability to pay illegal immigrants under the table.

When it comes to hard work, the illegal immigrant population is, for the most part, an admirable one. I hope I make it clear that my concern about illegal immigrants has to do with the integrity of the American social, economic, and political contract, and not with any animus towards those Hispanics who come here. As I’ve argued before, they’re reasonable to leave their often dysfunctional economies. I’ve also argued that, by countenancing illegal immigration, we immorally provide a safety valve to those dysfunctional, usually corrupt, countries from which they come.

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  • Ymarsakar

    The Democrats and their Leftist alliance do not really give a damn about laws. To them, whoever has the most money and power is the one that makes the law. Simply look at the criminal vs police vs citizen interactions in the major Democrat fiefs.

  • weathtd

    Another aspect of the problem that is frequently ignored is the refusal to assimilate.  I saw this as a police officer in Charlotte.  The immigrants say they come here for a better life but so many refuse to learn the language and where ever they settle in they immediately turn into little Mexico.  They continue to exhibit allegiance to Mexico and the way of life and living conditions they left, for example the flag controversies at schools.  If they were so happy with Mexico the border is open both ways.  Having said that, I welcome anyone who comes legally and becomes part of the “melting pot”.  
    Also, how about the former Playboy playmate arrested for trying to smuggle a man across the Canadian border?  WTF!  What about the “activists” and lawyers assisting the Mexicans?  It’s the same felony.

  • Kevin_B

    Two remarks, Bookworm.
    – The number of immigrants, illegal or otherwise, can be a very major problem for a society. I’m not sure if it is a large part of the current immigration problem in the US, but numbers do matter when it comes to immigration.
    – You do seem a bit soft here and there. I’m not sure, but I think some conservatives would be less understanding of illegal immigrants, and take harder points of view.
    I personally think legal immigration, carefully controlled and with the right checks and balances, as well as limited in number, is the only kind of immigration that is really acceptable. Certain groups of people just shouldn’t be let in… gang members, criminals, thugs, convicts, scum et cetera. There are good reasons for a country to only let in decent immigrants, and to keep a close eye on them during the first few years. It is also, I think, entirely reasonable and humane to expect immigrants to assimilate.
    As weathtd rightly says, that is often a major problem. Not just Mexicans. A group that is even worse at assimilating are muslims. We’re seeing the consequences or large-scale muslim immigration in Europe now, and increasingly also in the US. Let this be a warning on immigration. Btw, I think muslims should be excluded from migration to western countries, legal or illegal.

  • Ron19

    “those who have been here more than five years will get a temporary green card”

    Whie we are at it, why not a universal statute of limitations of five years for everything, including murder and paying your taxes?  Or enforcing a contract? 

  • Mike Devx

    Book, I read your remarks on JoshuaPundit’s Watchers Council Forum : Illegal Migration and What To Do About It.

    He prints *all* of the responses within the Watchers’ Council.

    Your response was fantastic. The best of them by far, I thought.  So well written and thought out, so very well done!  Congratulations.

    I could go either way on your ‘five years here, Green Card’ plan.  But I thought you explained it, and why you chose it, very well indeed.  It may be debatable, but it certainly is reasonable and you supported it well.

    Just wanted to give you a shout out, “Well done!”