Friday, May 19, 2006

Immigration Reform

President Bush said over the weekend that he would place National Guard troops on the border with Mexico to improve border security.

As I said on the forum, There are two problems with using this policy as an argument for "immigration reform".

  1. It is going to take more than putting 10,000 troops on the border to convince the American people that the federal government is serious about border security. The concern that the leadership in Washington is not committed to securing the borders goes back many years. This looks like a political maneuver designed to soothe people's nerves, without the resolve to stick with the policy for the long haul.

  2. There is still the issue of whether or not immigration "reform" is a good idea to begin with. Would a program of pseudo-amnesty improve the current situation or make it worse?

It annoys me that the administration is proposing measures to provide the border security it is already constitutionally obligated to provide anyway as a political measure. Constitutional responsibilities should never be political bargaining chips. Later that evening, the doubts I had about the commitment to border security were reinforced by this statement from White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri:

"The president made clear that the United States considers Mexico a friend and that what is being considered is not militarization of the border, but support of border patrol capabilities on a temporary basis by National Guard personnel."

There have been some positive developments. The U.S. Senate, which has been pushing a much more liberal proposal for "immigration reform", moved closer to the security-minded vision of the House of Representatives. The Senate voted 83-16 to approve "370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers" along the border with Mexico. The Senate also voted 99-0 to "deny citizenship chances to those illegals guilty of a felony or three misdemeanors," according to the New York Times.

So what is the solution to the growing illegal immigration problem we face? A lot of people argue it is "not practical" to deport the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already residing in the United States. However, offering a pseudo-amnesty "path to citizenship" will only encourage more illegal immigration. Many conservatives are justifiably concerned that the required steps to become a citizen will not be enforced.

The problem with the practicality argument is that it undermines respect for the law. Since we cannot enforce the law anyway, we might as well just decriminalize those already here. However, the FBI reports over 1.3 million violent crimes in 2004 - should we decriminalize these acts, since we do not seem to be able to stop it?

I think it is very disrespectful to the immigrants who follow the law and wait their turn for a chance at the American dream to reward illegal behavior by granting a "path to citizenship". I applaud Congressional Republicans such as John Hostettler who are standing up both to the President and to the powerful business lobby that benefits from illegal immigration. Whatever solution is found, two things are clear: amnesty (or pseudo-amnesty) is a bad idea, and we need to secure our borders.

Michelle Malkin has an excellent editorial on the subject this week.