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The Amnesty Deal

John on June 9, 2007 at 10:06 am

It’s one of the most contentious issues in the country right now. Senators Kennedy and McCain created an immigration bill which opponents call amnesty. The bill seems to have failed, but only just barely.

Tempers are hot. The NY Times says anti-immigration forces are holding the nation “hostage.” People on the right are being compared to Nazis. The bill has been labeled “shamnesty” by opponents.

Personally, I find it hard to swing all the way to either side on this one. I’d love to see a border fence of the kind used in Israel, preferably one that stretches at least 1000 miles through the most remote parts of the border. I think Kennedy is a fool to think that granting legal status to illegals will diminish the flow of aliens. If anything it seems more likely to increase pressure as people get the idea that border crossing is being rewarded with citizenship.

I’d also love to see a crack down on deportation of criminal aliens, who make up something like 25-30% of our federal prison population. If someone has anything more than a parking ticket, kick them out.

On the other hand, I think some process to eventually legalize the people who are here is necessary. Keeping all these people off the books creates a black market which always breeds crime and trouble. If it could be done in concert with a serious effort at border control (i.e. a fence that covers at least 50% of the border), I’d favor something like what this bill is trying to do.

The reality is, something like 10% of the population of Mexico now lives inside the US. Most of those people are sending money home every month. In essence, Mexico is surviving because it is on the US payroll. Why? Because Mexico itself isn’t a fully modern democracy. It can’t enforce the rule of law. It’s still a backward backwater compared to the US. Until that changes, the number of people wanting to leave won’t ever go down.

In the meantime, every hispanic person I meet here in Southern California I’ll treat with respect. I don’t think being for border enforcement is racism as the lefty demagogues want to claim. I do think that treating a whole class of people who are already living here like escaped convicts — as some people seem to want to do — is a huge mistake in many ways.

Ultimately the only chance we have to really solve this problem is to raise the standard of living in Mexico. I’m not sure how that gets done except slowly over many decades.

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