The Corner

Amnesty vs. de facto Amnesty

I recognize that it is déclassé to insert politics into discussions of border security.  But it is unavoidable. In “Mexico Isn’t a Failed State — Yet,”  Mark Krikorian properly identifies workplace verification and greater local-federal coordination as imperatives to control illegal-alien gang activity. But he persists in advancing the political factor that blocks both: the rejection of amnesty in any form. The majority of municipal, Hispanic, and business groups that are thwarting workplace verification and federal-local co-ordination are doing so not out of ideological hostility to the concepts, but out of resistance to the mass deportations of trained workers and beloved family members that will result absent a “path to legalization.” 

Does such a path compromise the war against gangs? Certainly. Mark cites Michael Chertoff’s estimate that roughly one-sixth of resident illegals could not pass criminal background checks. He hypothesizes (correctly, I think) that many would gain legalization, however a work-visa system were devised. 

But the current deadlock compromises the war against gangs even more. It sets business groups that would willingly accept E-verify as a new safe harbor against its isolated enactment, either federally or in the states. And municipalities that would willingly cooperate with the feds to remove gang members hold back, fearing a wider deportation of valued community members — “illegals,” if you prefer.

The status quo leaves the existing criminal cohort here, sheltered by the existing fraud prone I-9 system of workplace verification. When John McCain, a successful border politician, called the current enforcement regime “de facto amnesty,” many of us laughed at him. We shouldn’t have. 

To protect ourselves, Mark further suggests that we abolish the Border Crossing Card, which “accounts for half of all entries into the U.S. by foreigners.” If this is true, it would block 250 million legal border crossings per year, or roughly 250 times the total illegal crossings. Put this gem into the Republican platform and watch Arizona and Texas turn Blue. But again, I digress into mere politics . . .

— Richard Nadler is president of the Americas Majority Foundation, a public-policy think tank in Overland Park, Kan. 

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