I Don't Blame Them for Breaking the Law. I Would, Too.

| January 7, 2009 | 2 Replies

I’ve been saying for some time that the real problem with our immigration system isn’t the massive influx of illegal immigrants nor the lax way our immigration officials pursue the laws we already have. The real problem is that our immigration system is so casually incompetent.

Stacy McCain has found yet another story of a willing immigrant of the sort we should be encouraging to become an American who tried to follow the rules and was stonewalled, forced to pay thousands of needless dollars, and run through the bureaucratic wringer.

What happened to Mr. Lingan and his wife should never happen again. I disagree strongly with folks like Mark Krikorian and Pat Buchanan who want to restrict legal immigration drastically. They say that we should only be looking for immigrants who have skills that we need right now in the job market, but that’s the wrong way of thinking about immigration. We need immigrants who are enthusiastic about becoming Americans, who want to take advantage of the myriad opportunities of this country to better themselves and become strong and faithful members of their local communities. In short, what should matter is not what an immigrant knows but what an immigrant wants.

Our immigration system is broken. It’s not even trying to sort the eager would-be Americans from the posers. It’s undermanned, underfunded, and purposefully adversarial. It drives otherwise law-abiding people into breaking the law because it is easier and less expensive to break the law than it is to jump through all the hoops we set before legal immigrants. What sense does it make to sit on a waiting list for a decade when you can just skip across the border and live here without much worry about getting caught? Even if you are caught, there’s only a slim chance that you will get sent home. Heck, you could end up like Barack Obama’s aunt who was scheduled for deportation but instead is getting her rent paid by taxpayers and has a state-provided job.

We can’t fix the system. It’s too far gone for that. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. The very basis on which we admit legal immigrants needs to change. America was built by immigrants who wanted to be here and to make their lives here. Those are the people we should be bringing here and when we do, we should never make them wonder if they made a mistake coming in the legal way.

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