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.