The Corner

Re: Amnesty For What

John, Ramesh: Amnesty is a simply terrible idea because it is a spur to

more illegal immigration. The fundamental problem with U.S. immigration is

that the federal government does not have the resources to administer even

the current, highly unsatisfactory, immigration regime, and that this has

bred a culture of hopelessness and despair in the enforcement authorities,

and a corresponding culture of cheerful impudence among illegal immigrants.

There are millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S., and hundreds of

thousands of employers breaking federal law by employing them. What are the

Feds to do? Create a vast expansion of federal policing capability in order

to round up and deport the illegals, and arrest their employers? (A)

Without much better border & point-of-entry controls than we have now (which

would require YET MORE resources!) the illegals will come right back in.

(B) And even if they were to stay out, what would you do with all those

govt. employees after this huge one-off effort? As a conservative, I anyway

do not want to see huge expansions in federal police power.

My solution would be as follows.

(1) No amnesty. Make it perfectly clear, by repeated announcements from the

highest level, that illegal immigrants will stay illegal–no amnesty!

(2) Enforce current laws. Energetically pursue illegals and their employers

to the degree that we can with current resources, publicizing the resulting

arrests and deportations. This will have a magnifying effect on un-arrested

illegals and employers: With no hope of amnesty and arrests/deportations

constantly in the news, a lot of illegals will drift back home, and a lot of

employers will think twice before hiring workers with no documents. Respond

quickly and loudly to all Pelosi-style whining about “terrorism,” “food on

the table,” etc. etc. by saying firmly that WE ARE ENFORCING THE LAW, AS WE

ARE CHARGED TO DO. If citizens think the laws are cruel and unfair, they

can of course lobby their representatives to change the laws. In the

meantime, laws should be enforced, to the degree possible.

(3) Advertise LEGAL immigration. Trumpet the warm welcome the U.S. gives to

LEGAL immigrants, and loudly advertise this as a nation that embraces THOSE

WHO OBEY OUR LAWS (see Mark Krikorian’s fine essay “A Stern Face and a Warm

Welcome” in the 10/27/03 NRODT). Perhaps devise some high-profile, low-cost

govt. services for legal immigrants, and propagandize about having done so.

(“My Democratic opponent says I am hostile to immigration. But look, it was

my administration that sent the new-citizens health-care credits bill to


(4) Revisit the 1965 Act. Our present immigration regime is in most

essentials the one established by the 1965 Act, which has, to put it very

mildly indeed, not had the results that were promised at the time. Pull

that act in to dry dock, strip it down, examine every plate and rivet, and

rebuild it as necessary.

(5) Bring a test case on that “subject to the jurisdiction” clause in

Section I of the 14th Amendment. In the present jurisprudential climate, I

would not hold out great hopes here; but there is at least a chance we could

shut down the “obstetric tourism” industry, which is a disgrace.

(6) Close the borders. Hire people as necessary for this one, use the

military if we must, get some advanced surveillance technologies in play,

but CLOSE THE BORDERS. Otherwise everything else–including amnesty–would

be a waste of effort.

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