I’m not looking to start a conversation on immigration reform here. Wait, that’s not entirely true. I’m not looking to be part of a conversation on immigration reform. I don’t believe it’s possible to have such a conversation without buckets full of acrimony and more strawmen than Barack Obama in a press conference on the unemployment rate.
Did I mention I once saw Buckets Full of Acrimony open for Pop Will Eat Itself in ’96? Yes, Fingers Malloy, that was for you.
Where was I. Right. Immigration reform. The reason we’re talking about it is because Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney among Hispanics this past Tuesday. This has put the Republican Party in full-on panic mode, and like any panicky elephant, there’s been a bit of furious stomping and trumpeting.
Now, I know the arguments, pro and con, very well. I can argue either side of the issue well. For the record, I don’t want any form of comprehensive reform I’ve yet seen from either party. If you wanted to slap a label on me, I guess you could call me an “enforcement first” supporter on the issue. I admit, though, there are some awfully tough issues in play the answers to which won’t make anyone especially happy (that, by the way, puts me above most people who talk about the issue).
I want to put down a few bullet-style thoughts. Like I said, I’m not looking to be part of a conversation here, but if anything I say here gets a reasonable conversation rolling, so much the better.
- Comprehensive reform is an instant loser. Immigration is a ginormous issue and any attempt to solve the whole thing in one Obamacare-sized bill is going to get you the same sort of “quick, pass it before anyone reads it” shenanigans we saw with Obamacare, the
Vote-Buying ActStimulus Bill, TARP, the auto bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, and so on. Break it down into bite-sized chunks (and know that a couple of those chunks will be big bites). Be methodical. Take your time. Solve the problem step by step.
- Immigration means more than Central American and Mexican immigration. Whatever we do has to treat people from Mexico like we treat people from Cuba like we treat people from India like we treat people from Honduras. Treat everyone equally. Encourage legal immigration from everywhere.
- The first step to any immigration reform plan has to be a complete overhaul of the legal immigration system. It’s a mess, broken beyond our ability to slap a few pieces of duct-tape over the cracks and make is fly anymore. It takes too long to become a legal immigrant. It costs too much money. There are far too many restrictions. The system practically pushes people to come here illegally. Hire more agents — lots more. Cut the required paperwork by half, at least. Lower the fees. Do the bureaucratic equivalent of laying out a welcome mat on a well-lit porch. We can not move people from illegal immigration to legal immigration if we don’t have a competently-run, humane system. Can. Not.
- Secure the borders. Period. This must be a stand-alone piece of legislation and it must be bullet-proof. There is no way in Heaven we can bail out our ship while there’s a gaping iceberg-rent in the hull with water rushing in. Note here I’m not saying we need a 20′ wall all around the country. We’re pretty smart people. We can figure out something better.
- No “path to citizenship”, not as I’ve seen any proposal in the past ten years. It is patently unfair that someone can sneak into our country, avail themselves of our freedoms and prosperity, then simply be allowed to remain while others sit in their own countries, patiently waiting for their turn to come here legally. There are thousands, probably tens of thousands (I’m too lazy right now to look up the exact number) of people on the legal immigration list. They deserve first shot. When they’re in, I’ll consider letting illegal immigrants stay or putting them at the front of the line to get processed in as legal immigrants without further penalty. America is a fair and just nation. Letting illegal immigrants profit from their crime is neither just nor fair.
- Yes, I know that my last bullet point may seem unfair to the children of illegal immigrants who are themselves illegal. It’s not their fault they are here. Nevertheless, they can not stay. If a poor man robs a bank and uses the money to build a house for his family, we don’t let him keep the house when he is caught. He owes full restitution and the house is going on the block to make his debt right. That, also, is unfair to his children, but that is how the rule of law works. It’s not fair to the citizens of this country to sell their citizenship for cheap. Like I said, we are fair and just.
We have plenty of room for lots and lots of immigrants. Roll out the welcome mat, but make sure we get everyone in in good order. Properly. Fairly. Quickly. Cheaply. Safely. These are the watchwords for any reform I’d support. You get those tacked down and I’m with you. Until then, not so much.
Category: Political Pontifications