On Friday, President Obama announced that by executive order, the I&NS will offer an amnesty loophole to undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children (before age 16), have lived in the U.S. for at least five continuous years, are under age 30 and either enrolled in high school or have a high school diploma, and have not been convicted of a serious crime or pose a national security threat. Such individuals, if they voluntarily step forward and self-identify, will not be deported, but will be granted "work permits" and be put onto a track for possible citizenship. It has been estimated that there may be between 800,000 and 1,300,000 individuals who might qualify for this exception.
Obama's order seems an obvious public relations move, designed to bolster his image to the Latino voting constituency, and is a premonitory hint of what he intends to do on immigration, should he be elected to his second term. The Latino community has expressed satisfaction that Obama has decided to simply sidestep the Congress, which failed to pass his Dream Act, by simply enacting the legislation by fiat. The order is, in effect, an amnesty. Having already been rewarded with a free elementary and secondary education paid for by the American taxpayer, these same people will now be rewarded with legal residence, work permits, driver's licenses, and other kinds of documentation. The order will allow them to attend American universities and colleges as legal residents, at preferred residential rates, and even to qualify for financial aid and loans. At a time of particular stress in our educational institutions, when both our public schools, and our advanced institutions of learning are struggling to maintain standards of performance in a time of squeezed funding and shrinking state and local budgets, it seems painfully inequitable to create set-asides and preferences for foreign nationals--not even highly qualified ones like those from Europe and Asia who have come here as graduate students--who have already benefitted from every conceivable advantage, including bi-lingual instruction.
As readers of this blog know, I am a hawk on immigration. Though a liberal on most issues, this is one where I cross the line to join those on the side of enforcement, and a strict policy with respect to legal residence. I have always had Hispanic friends and colleagues whom I respected and liked, just as I have Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and African Americans, etc., and my feelings and positions with respect to illegal immigration are in fact color blind and ethnically neutral. Most apologists--especially in the public media--think that by demonizing, by branding you as a bigot--or someone driven by racial or ethnic prejudice--they can undermine the other arguments against uncontrolled immigration, as if these were all simply deductions from a primary principle of unreasonable, or irrational, hatred. No sensible person accepts that argument, which is nothing more than a cheap debater's trick. Being against uncontrolled, runaway immigration is a perfectly reasonable position, which any thinking person can understand. I see runaway illegal immigration in these terms:
Population control. Most of the world's present problems are the result of out-of-control population growth, in one way or another. That would be true of the so-called "civilized" Western bloc countries, as much as it is of the so-called Third World. The world's resources are finite, not unlimited, and humankind's consumption of water, energy, arable land, food and open space has already outstripped supply. For good or ill, we are still a world of nations, and nations can only have legitimate control over that land that lies within their own borders. The uncontrolled movement of people across borders is a symptom of disequilibrium among nations. Rapid, uncontrolled movement of large numbers of people is really a form of refuge-seeking--from war, privation, drought, economic hardship, ethnic conflict etc. The larger the numbers of refugees, the more pressure that is brought to bear upon the destination country. Large, rapid transfers of population create intolerable burdens upon society. Any nation which wishes to manage its own population, its own resources, the welfare of its own people, must limit uncontrolled growth and influx, lest it be overburdened and overwhelmed by needy newcomers. The United States once stood, empty and vast, as an inviting open-space. Our immigration policies of a hundred years ago were an explicit expression of the capacity to absorb new population. But that condition no longer applies. Domestic population, and world population, have been expanding in ever-growing, even exponential, rates. Almost no country in the world now "needs" more population, and most countries are beyond crowded. Sensible immigration policy today must take account of this change, and moderate our regulation of influx, such that we can commit ourselves to a no-growth condition. A sensible immigration policy now should be built around a static population concept. Policies built around a constant growth paradigm of continuous economic and consumer expansion, must end. The U.S. no longer needs more people.
Unlawful Intrusion. Illegal immigration creates large numbers of outlaws. People who are living in America illegally maintain a shadow existence, evading authority, and creating a ghetto-ized network of crime and exchange "under the radar." On the one hand, they present as a large disorganized labor pool, vulnerable to exploitation, without tax liability, legal protections, insurance. Technically, foreign nationals have few rights, and live in constant fear of discovery, prosecution, and deportation. On the other hand, unscrupulous employers are all too anxious to use the cheap labor they represent. Both sides of this equation are bad, a mutually exploitative symbiosis. Cheap labor drags down wage-levels, and undocumented workers inevitably become a burden to society when they use our medical system, public schools, police and fire safety, while they pay nothing for these services. Because they're living outside the law, they tend not to assimilate, but cling to the language, customs and habits of the "old country" for security and guidance. Since they are not able to pursue their lives openly as full citizens, they tend to become alienated and resentful. This resentment and frustration, in turn, then becomes the basis for bitter political partisanship, especially when these sentiments are manipulated for political gain and advantage by unscrupulous politicians and pressure groups. Despite the fact that such illegals have no real legitimacy as citizens, they become emboldened to demand rights and privileges, which they could not enjoy in their own country. All this provocation inspires resentment and impatience among native citizens, who see an increasing body of foreign nationals, technically without legitimate rights, demanding power and concessions from a government whose laws they openly and routinely flout.
We have been having this debate about how to deal with the continued flow of illegal immigration across our southern borders for a long time. Americans have expressed the desire to see it stop, and to have our residency and travel laws and regulations enforced. The general public is tired of the refusal of those in both parties at the national level to respond to their will, choosing instead to court the "hispanic vote" by pandering to those who want open borders , lax enforcement of our residency and voting and labor laws, and a vast welfare infrastructure designed to facilitate massive refugee migration.
Provisions such as the Dream Act encourage and reward illegal immigration. Foreign nationals constitute cheap labor, ready recruits to military service. They exploit and overburden our public school and medical care systems, and commit crimes at many times higher than normal rates. They bring with them the cultural corruption of outlaw nations where bribery and favors are the social order.
Why should the United States, at this point in its history, be fulfilling the dreams of young foreign nationals who have entered our country illegally, and have exploited our generosity by taking hand-outs and freebies, in the full knowledge of their wrong-doing. Advocates of such policies ask us to be sympathetic to the plight of "children" who "through no fault of their own" have grown up inside our society, with the same expectations of the pursuit of happiness and personal fulfillment. But citizenship is a precious right; it isn't something that can be stolen or traded or enterprised. It shouldn't be possible to seize or fake or "negotiate" citizenship as if it were a commodity.
During the Obama Administration, enforcement has increased, and deportations are way up. We're finally sending a message that America will no longer tolerate the scofflaws sneaking into our country. But the message has been made ambiguous by the administration's "dream" policy. Obama has targeted the younger electorate as a major part of his political strategy, and seeking to win over Hispanic youth appears to be a key segment of that platform. He thinks he can "buy votes" by pandering to their needs and desires. But it may backfire on him. If I were a college student today, or a young person trying to find decent work, I would resent attempts to allow or encourage foreign nationals to have preferred access to enrollment or employment.
If Obama loses the Presidency, and I righteously hope that he doesn't, it will be precisely because of actions like this, which alienate those of us who believe in the welfare of our country and its citizens first, before the welfare and rights of foreigners. Americans are by their nature a trusting and generous people, but that trust and generosity has been exploited by the illegals and their advocates. Wanting a thing does not make stealing it somehow justifiable, and squatting can't lead to ownership by default. As unpleasant as it may be to carry out our laws, from time to time, failing to do so only encourages more crime. These foreigners, and their children, need to be treated just the same as other criminals. If they're citizens of Mexico, or Honduras, or Guatemala, or Colombia, or China, or the Philippines, and they have no legal right to be here, they should be processed out, and deported, just like any other illegal. Following our laws can't simply be a matter of voluntary convenience, and the prosecution of crime can't be measured or applied only as an opportunity for compassion and charity. Compassion and charity both begin at home, and before you can entertain guests--especially uninvited ones--you have to put your own house in order. As the American standard of living erodes, our capacity to "save" other nations and other nations' citizens from themselves and their problems, declines.
Dear President Obama: Enough is enough. No more pandering to the illegal voting bloc. No more amnesty. No more rewards for cheating.