I really started following politics during the Reagan adminstration. I never had the chance to vote for him, due to my age, but I respected him a great deal and think he was one of the best presidents we’ve ever had.
But I’m not a “Reagan worshipper.” I don’t look at every situation and ask “What Would Ronald Reagan Do?” However, on the issue of illegal immigration and the Arizona law, I think it’s pretty clear what Reagan — were he still alive and in full possession of his faculties — would say.
The first would be “there you go again.” One of Reagan’s bigger mistakes was signing the Immigration Reform And Control Act of 1986. That bill contained amnesty for illegal aliens, and set the stage for demands for more and bigger amnesty programs.
In 1965, Ted Kennedy (yes, I’m still going to kick him around when appropriate, and it fits here) sponsored another immigration bill that passed. During the Senate debate, Teddy said, “”The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission.”
Then, in 1986, when he sponsored another immigration bill, Teddy promised “This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this.”
We believed Teddy and the Democrats in 1965. We believed Teddy and the Democrats in 1986. Teddy might be gone, but why in hell should we believe them this time?
Reagan believed in compassion and in the power of the American dream, but he was no blind fool. He knew his history, and he learned from it. “Comprehensive immigration reform” has been tried twice before, and each time it resulted in more and more and more illegal aliens. When the 1965 bill was passed, the US population was about 193 million, and 1 million illegal aliens — just over 0.5%. In 1986, the numbers were 240 million and 3 million — up to 1.25% and a threefold increase. For 2008, the most recent numbers I can find, it was 304 million and 11 million — over 4% and a nearly fourfold increase.
Keep in mind that there was a bit of a “reset button” in 1986, when 2.7 illegal aliens were granted amnesty. So, to be more accurate, the base point for the 1986-2008 jump is about half a million, or a twenty-two-fold increase. In 22 years.
We tried amnesty programs. They didn’t work. They made it worse. Reagan would have no truck with that.
The second point that made me think of Reagan was my recent attempt to calmly, politely, and rationally educate the demagoging, blithering, ignorant idiots who are shooting their mouths off without engaging their tiny little brains about the Arizona law, which is exceptionally simple, but apparently too complex for their shriveled little brains. (With all due respect, of course.) In the comments, James H brought up a very good question:
I’m not going to rehash arguments that have been made elsewhere; that woul dtake time, and nobody wants to hear it, either.
But I’d like to explore another tack that occurred to me today. Should we trust the police? Radley Balko recently noted a drug raid involving excessive force. In Washington, DC, an off-duty police officer pulled a gun on some twenty- and thirty-somethings having a snowball fight after his privately owned Hummer got hit with snowballs. In an ongoing series, the Village Voice reveals questionable goings-on in a police precinct through surreptitious tape recording.
Again and again, we see instances of police officers abusing their discretion. The Arizona law may offer further opportunities to do so. Is this really a good thing?
Reagan had an answer for that one, too, James. He said it in the context of arms negotiations with the Soviet Union, but it applies here, too: “Trust, but verify.”
Generally, we ought to trust the police. They are our public servants, entrusted with exceptional power and authority and responsibility. They are, ultimately, accountable to us, and they serve a very valuable role in our society. We, quite frankly, need them.
But that trust shouldn’t be blind. We shouldn’t just automatically accept the word of a police officer (or anyone, for that matter). If their honesty is challenged in a credible manner, then we should fully investigate the matter and determine the truth for ourselves.
In the Arizona example, people (including a bunch of supposedly smart people who really ought to know better) are saying that police officers will seek out or simply make up excuses to stop and detain people who they think might be illegal aliens, harassing innocents who have done nothing to draw attention to themselves (such as, say, taking their children out for ice cream — thanks for that example, President Obama).
The first thought I had was that was not likely because the law specifically forbids that. The vast majority of cops are concerned with enforcing the law, not breaking it.
The second thought I had was that most police aren’t that fond of paperwork in general, and enforcing this law will generate more paperwork for them. So they have an additional incentive to not go randomly rounding up suspected illegal aliens.
The third thought I had was that should that start happening, it won’t last for long. Especially at the outset of the law’s coming into effect, pretty much every single arrest made under it will be under huge, huge amounts of scrutiny. The ACLU has battalions of lawyers lined up at airports, armed with laptops and parachutes, to air-drop on the first arrests to be made. The Obama/Holder Justice Department thought about riding along with the ACLU with their lawyers, but that would have been too economical for this administration. So they’ve figured out how to get their attorneys to the scenes in the most expensive way possible, with the biggest carbon footprint. The current plan calls for each lawyer to fly on a one-man coal-powered rocket through a Gulf of Mexico oil platfrom on its way to Arizona, landing on a colony of endangered newts.
The law has been passed. It will go into effect in a few weeks. And there will be exceptionally intense scrutiny on how it is enforced, so I have little fear that there will be abuses that will go unnoted.
I only hope the people doing the scrutiny will have bothered to at least read the frigging thing — something that President Obama, Attorney General Holder, or — as far as I can tell — no one else in the current regime has bothered to do before denouncing it.
President Reagan was a great believer in common sense and the fundamental decency of the American people. In that spirit, I’m willing to give the people of Arizona the benefit of the doubt and support their right to try this law and see if it will help them alleviate the tremendous burdens they’ve been suffering under due to the federal government’s staunch refusal to live up to their obligations and enforce feeral laws regarding illegal immigration and border security.
And if it doesn’t work, we can repeal the law. It’s not much harder than it was to pass it in the first place.