Reading both Byron’s posts (here and here) on the candidates’ immigration speeches, I don’t see how either McCain or Obama answers Derb’s point (here). Obama blathers that his comprehensive reform will force illegal immigrants to “go to the back of the line,” and McCain drones on about refraining from “granting them privileges before those who have been waiting their turn outside the country.” But if you legalize the illegal aliens’ status here and you allow them to stay, how is that not moving them to the front of the line and precisely granting them a privilege not granted to aliens who are trying to immigrate legally?
Mind you, I am not resolutely opposed to the granting at some point of a humanitarian amnesty, if the illegal population were reduced by 90 – 95 percent. After all, we already have asylum laws — a form of humanitarian relief by which we permit people who would not otherwise qualify to reside here. Such an amnesty would have to be tightly drawn and implemented in a way that would not provoke a spike of new illegal immigration — that’s why (a) you could only do it, if at all, after years of effective enforcement that communicated a true commitment to crack down on the borders, the visa process (about 40 percent of illegals are overstays), and employers who hire illegals; and (b) you couldn’t promise to do it since doing so would undermine the purpose of enforcement, namely, to encourage illegals to leave on their own.
But if ever we were to consider such an amnesty, we should call it what it is and acknowledge that we would be rewarding bad behavior — in effect, moving people to the front of the line — to serve some higher purpose.