The Corner

The Bush Amnesty

Cliff: The New York Times — THE NEW YORK TIMES! — says that “Mr.

Bush’s proposal … effectively amounts to an amnesty program for illegal

immigrants with jobs in the United States.” It is plain from the outline in

their coverage this morning that this is the case. There is nothing in the

past behavior of this administration to indicate that they are at all

serious about enforcing current law; why should we think that they will act

more seriously in respect of these proposed new laws? And, even supposing

that the will is there, why should we think that the new laws COULD be

enforced any more rigorously than the current ones, since they seem to

involve mountains of new paperwork, and the immigration authorities–as

anyone involved in the process will gladly tell you–cannot cope with the

paperwork they currently have? Nor does anyone in the administration seem

to have given a moment’s thought to the second-level issues: what to do

about visa over-stayers; what the population projections from “chain

migration” will mean for future demands on welfare, housing, education,

policing and the environment; why such favoritism is shown to Mexico, when

equally desirable, equally willing, and equally well-prepared immigrants

from other nations would be glad to take advantage of this “temporary

worker” program. Yes, I want to see more details; but nothing I have seen

yet indicates to me that any person, any person at all, in this

administration has given so much as a nanosecond’s thought to any aspect of

the immigration issue above the level of the crudely, and very short-termly,

political.

“It’s not perfect, but why make the perfect the enemy of the good –

especially when we know that the perfect is not politically achievable?”

Any lousy policy could be justified on those grounds. True: the perfect is

the enemy of the good. It is likewise true, however, that the good is the

enemy of the bad, and this plan, as so far presented, is bad. As for “not

politically achievable”–sez who? We have no idea what is politically

achievable until some politician tries to achieve it. In a democracy, that

happens when enough people make enough noise banging on the politicians’

doors.

“And this approach, if it succeeds, would promote what you correctly say

should be the goal of limiting the total number of legal immigrants and

reducing the number of illegal immigrants.” Eh? According to the Times, an

essential component of this plan is INCREASING the number of green cards!

(Fourth paragraph of the Times story.) But in any case, as 1986 showed, any

amnesty can only encourage further illegal immigration. And this is, as the

New York Times says, an amnesty, in all but name.