In May of ’06 I wrote this article on the immigration bill before Congress, and some of the things I worried about did come true. Immigration reform and fiscal carelessness became the two key issues that destroyed the marriage that Karl Rove built. More to come on that later, for now the immigration article.
“The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.” –Solzhenitsyn
Now that the Immigration bill is in committee and the senate has left the house to take the heat it’s time to assess best and worst-case scenarios. It’s unlikely at all that the amnesty program or “path to citizenship” will survive through the conference, but let’s for the moment assume it could get through and call that worst-case.
Â What would best-case be then? That would be the straight house bill, with stricter border enforcement, and fines for business’ hiring illegal immigrants. Somewhere in the middle would be the house bill with an inclusion of a guest worker program.
All three solutions are problematic, and like any course taken each will present fresh challenges.
The electorate’s choice according to poll indications is for strict enforcement first — however that full, strict enforcement would take significantly greater resources and taxes than we can contribute at just the federal level over the next 20 years. If local governments contribute to the effort the task becomes much less herculean, however there are some local governments which will fight this tooth and nail.
The middle course addresses the coming shortfall in workers as the baby-boomers retire, however what will be needed are more skilled, educated workers and fewer unskilled and uneducated workers. If clear measures are not taken to ensure that, then any guest worker program could cause more pain than worth. The solution of choice should not be to import poverty and dependency but should instead be to import valued workers who contribute much more than they burden. Otherwise the proposition doesn’t make sense for the US.
The last course of amnesty would prove disastrous to Republican control of the federal legislature, and would open the gates to further immigration law abuse. The american public is firmly opposed to this course.
Now for the worst news. None of these paths are sufficient to cure the problem. None of them will prevent us from meeting back on the same subject in five to ten years. This is a clear case where the Federal government is insufficient to the cause. Without state, city, and county support of the federal law, this bill becomes worthless paper as much as the last law was.
It is clearly in the citizen’s self-interest to ensure that measures are taken at all levels of goverment if we are to truly grapple and defeat this problem. It will take time, and concerted action by city, county, and state governments to deal with the current crop of Illegals. It will take all levels of government, process, and funding mechanisms between agencies to ensure continous enforcement over time.
If you want a secure, safe, country where opportunity is open to immigrants who purposefully choose to become American, then you need to continue to focus on all levels of government with this issue for the next two years. It is a bellweather issue, it is an issue that will last beyond the ‘08 elections, and it will have defining characteristics for all political parties.
One key thing to keep in mind: All Draconian measures will backfire. If harsh measures are taken against employers across the country all at once, then it would be a large blow to the economy, and many shareholder pocketbooks. This is the larger demon behind the curtain, the elephant in the room nobody speaks of. So penalties and measures against business’ employing illegals cannot crush them, however they must be enough to sting severely.
Beyond that lies the looming birth-rate gap — we are not replacing our population fast enough to fullfill the needs of the retirees we will have in a few years. I am not talking about the specious straw-man of immigrants contributing to social security. I refer instead to the large-scale maintenance needs of our physical infrastructure, and the new infrastructure needed to care for a large population of retirees.
If penalties against business are too harsh, then you will also find local law officials and municipalities unwilling to enforce the laws — besides the potential to impact local economies, they also have potential to lessen campaign contributions. If the penalties sting without maiming then they become enforceable.
Here’s why just walling the border will not work in and of itself, and why city, county, and state police and government agencies must help.
If treatment of the illegals is too harsh this will backfire as well. Many who feel firm now will quail before the hordes of MSM and liberal deportation horror stories to come. For make no mistake, in many cases enforcing this will drive a wedge into one of conservativism’s key values: Family Unity. Some families will be torn apart. The father or mother will be deported — so whatever the outcome of the conference committee two major conservative values will clash. With that said I refer you back to the quote at the start, and remind you that in the end all problems are solvable if one factor is patience, and the other persistence.