Magazine | July 15, 2013, Issue

Borderline Crazy

From an early draft of the immigration bill: 

1.223 (b) The government shall construct a fence across the entirety of the border. Upon completion of the fence the government may, at its discretion, issue temporary visas to undocumented persons, provided the person pays $37,000 in fines, agrees to wait 17 years for full citizenship, abstains from government benefits, and flosses regularly.

The government may, at its discretion, halt or delay construction of the fence, but only under certain exceptions:

A) Someone from Homeland Security went to Home Depot for fence stuff and they were closed. Homeland Security shall interpret “closed” to mean it was unlikely anyone could complete the purchase of several thousand miles of fencing material within the store’s posted business hours. If the agent is unable to go to Home Depot, or doesn’t feel like it because it’s just a zoo on weekends, then the agent is empowered to order online. If the agent’s browser should crash during the ordering process, this shall be construed to be a “good faith” attempt to build the fence, and shall trigger the complete legalization of all undocumented persons.

B) The Secretary of Homeland Security may define “fence” to mean “Fictional Entity Not Constructed Ever” and deem the construction to be complete. Whether a fictional entity can be declared to exist will be referred to the philosophy department at Yale University, which shall issue a paper within ten years clarifying the meaning of “existence.” It shall convene a panel within two years of the submission of the question; the panel’s members shall (a) represent all branches of metaphysics, and include (b) the current head of La Raza and (c) Senator Ted Cruz wearing the facial mask and full-body restraint worn by Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

C) The construction of the fence may be delayed if an environmental-impact study demonstrates that the structure would significantly interrupt the migratory patterns of lizards, insects, birds, tumbleweeds, or people. (The fence may also be delayed upon the filing of an intent to file an impact study.) Pending investigation of the case, the construction shall be limited to drawing lines in the desert with a stick, although this may be halted if the EPA and the Department of Commerce receive information that the stick is made of endangered Indonesian hardwood, requiring confiscation of all sticks and fines in an amount equal to, but not exceeding, what had been budgeted to build the actual fence.

D) The provision requiring undocumented U.S. Persons to pay fees and fines shall be waived upon publication of one heart-tugging New York Times story about an immigrant family’s struggle to pay the total cost. (Said piece shall be between 12 and 24 inches in length.) Upon publication of the article, the Internal Revenue Service will be instructed to audit anyone who makes a negative comment about the article in Internet forums, using NSA-collected data to cross-reference IP addresses and user names. In cases where the data cannot conclusively prove someone criticized the article, a severed horse head shall be left in the person’s bed.

E) Should critics point out that the government was capable of constructing a nationwide highway in a reasonable period of time, the Department of Transportation shall begin dismantlement of the interstate system under the authority of the Inconvenient Analogy Act of 2009.

#page#F) If the plans for the fence describe a 14-foot-tall structure, the Department of Commerce is hereby authorized to spend an amount equal to the costs of its construction to promote the 15-Foot-Tall Ladder-Manufacturing Sector in neighboring countries. The ladders shall be easily transported in segments and include the warning “THIS IS NOT A STEP” on the top rung in English, Spanish, and French. Note: If the height of the fence is not specified, Commerce shall, at its discretion, subsidize the trampoline industry, the catapult industry, or both, provided the other side of the fence contains a line of mattresses at least 30 feet wide. The tags on the mattresses shall not be removed, under penalty of law, unless removed by undocumented aliens who just want a souvenir.

G) The other 1,197 pages of this bill shall be shoved into law by legislators who believe they have insulated themselves and their party to criticism of indifference towards people who Live in the Shadows.

H) People who are living in the shadows will be provided access to a portable structure that admits gradually increasing amounts of light, so their eyes can adjust. This structure will be towed around neighborhoods by a vehicle that runs entirely on biomass or solar energy. The bill shall appropriate $17 billion for the creation of whatever science thingy that takes. Note: For purposes of the legislation, “thingy” shall mean a factory in an economically depressed area that shall hire only residents within a two-mile radius; if the residents do not possess the technical expertise to derive sufficient electrical power from discarded vegetable matter or the sun, college educations will be provided. Construction of the fence shall commence when all local workers have their degrees, allowing for Ph.D. programs and a year’s sabbatical in Tuscany.

I) Persons who are living in the shadows shall also be understood to include vampires. Employers shall be given incentives to hire them, and shall be required to remove crosses and garlic from the workplace. Note: This includes workspaces previously known as the “nave” or “altar.”

Other than that, a fence shall be built. Note: The above refers to a fence on the Canadian border. Once its construction is complete, including a segment through the Great Lakes, then construction will proceed on the Mexican border fence. Unless it doesn’t.

– Mr. Lileks blogs at

James Lileks — James Lileks writes the Athwart column for National Review magazine and is a frequent contributor to the National Review website. He is a prominent voice on Ricochet podcasts.

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