The Corner

Ten Million Facts On The Ground

In the matter of illegal immigrants, as far as I can see there’s just no way to approach the issue without first granting that it involves one of those great big existential political facts to which policy–and politicians–must in one way or another conform: There are some 10 or 12 million illegals in the country already, and they’re not going back.

This being the case, isn’t it at least plausible to argue that Bush’s proposal represents a pretty good first draft, so to speak, of a policy? Three years of legal status, renewable for another three years, and employers who hire aliens will have to let the government know that they’re doing so. Wouldn’t that be an acceptable way of bringing those millions of illegal aliens within the ambit of the law? Of moving them from the black market into the transparent and legal economy? And wouldn’t it therefore shore up, rather than undermine, the rule of law?

I’ll grant you that I’d have been happier—a lot happier—if at the same time that Bush announced this proposal he had also announced that the federal government would finally be getting serious about enforcing the law at the border, ensuring that far, far fewer immigrants enter the country illegally in the first place. But as to the millions who are already here—and whom, I repeat, no one expects the government or anyone else to expel—doesn’t Bush’s proposal, to put it very simply, suggest a way of making things better?

I’ve filled this posting with question marks because I am posing questions–on this one, I honestly have yet to make up my mind. Derb? Ramesh?