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Bordering on madness

Back in college, I was involved in student government. Part of my job was working with other student organizations -- helping them get official recognition, funding, and the like. And, unfortunately, dealing with them when they broke their charters.

At one point I was tipped off that one organization was completely ignoring its charter. The group had become essentially a "project" of a faculty member, who made all the decisions and the student officers were rubber-stamping things. What made it worse was that there was no real malice here; the professor had essentially filled a void and kept the group functioning. And even worse for me personally was that I was friends with most of the leaders (both official and unofficial) of the group.

But it was an intolerable situation. I recruited a couple other student government members who were also close to the group's membership and the three of us had a meeting with the entire group. There, we spelled out their options:

1) They could change their rules to reflect how they were really doing things.

2) They could change the way they were doing things to follow the rules.

3) They could scrap both and come up with a whole new system.

When someone asked if there was a fourth choice, I said yes -- they could cease to exist as a recognized group.

We explained that the three of us had absolutely no preference for those first three choices, and would help them and support them as best we could in whichever they chose, but the current situation could not be allowed to continue.

My tipster -- one of the informal leaders of the group -- was pushing for the third option, with more independence from the faculty and more control by the students. And he put up a hell of an argument, but eventually the group decided they wanted to focus on the actual purpose of the group and pass on the minutiae. They opted for first choice.

I'm reminded of that story every time the issue of immigration reform comes up. We have a set of laws and policies that describe exactly who can come into our country, how they can, how long they can stay, and how they can become citizens. And every few years the topic of "amnesty" for illegal aliens comes around. No one ever seems to actually look at the existing laws any more.

The sheer dishonesty of the "pro-immigrant" side amazes me. They repeatedly denounce the enforcement of the law, call for exemptions and non-enforcement of the laws, but never actually have the courage of their convictions to call for changing the law.

It also apalls me that they free co-mingle legal and illegal immigrants under their aegis. There is a natural division between the two groups -- the former is showing respect for the process outlined (and, by extension, the United States as a whole) by complying with the rules. They fill out all the forms, attend all the hearings, take all the tests, and in general constantly and repeatedly demonstrate their dedication to becoming responsible guests (and, potentially, citizens) of the United States. The latter are line-jumpers, people who want the instant gratification and immediate benefits of being in the United States without fulfilling any of the obligations outlined by law. To steal a phrase, they want the rights without the concomitant responsibilities.

So this is my challenge to the "immigrant advocates." You've made it clear that you find the current laws on immigration offensive. Come up with your own policies, your own proposals, and let's let the people debate them. Increase the quotas for Mexico and other Latin American countries? Fine. Offer unlimited visas to manual laborers? Sure. Dismantle the southern border entirely? Go for it.

Just please spell out exactly what you want, and we'll talk. I -- and, I'd wager, a great many others -- are sick of you constantly complaining about our "unfair" immigration policies and enforcements without offering any kind of alternatives.

J.


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Comments (23)

Great post jay, I've been t... (Below threshold)

Great post jay, I've been talking about this for a while. Living in South-Central California, it has hit very close to hom for us. In the central valley, farming is king, there are tons of immigrant and immigrant families there, many are legal, some are illegal, who knows which. What those illegal immigrants WANT are instant gratification for their children. By being born on United States' soil, they instantly become US citizens.

If illegal immigrants were ... (Below threshold)
julie:

If illegal immigrants were given work permits, they would still be a drain on Calif. taxpayers. We are still stuck paying for medical/education/incarceration to the tune of billions a year.

There is no guarantee if they create worker's permits the gov. will enforce laws against illegal immigration. Everytime they granted an amnesty in the past and said they would enforce the laws thereafter was a lie.

This argument about the need to give them drivers license -- safer drivers, they'll be able to get insurance, etc. is ridiculous. They expect us to subsidize insurance for those who make less than $25k a year. If they are licensed, they will be able to sue when involved in a collusion. More lawsuits + fraudulenet claims = increased premiums. And Delivery Driver will just become another job "Americans won't do" bc the flood of cheap labor will drive wages into the toilet

Seems like the Current Admi... (Below threshold)
BurbankErnie:

Seems like the Current Administration, the majority of Congress, California's wonderful Democratic Base, Judges, etc. are the ones FOR not doing anything but complaining the Laws need changing on Immagration. The debates I AM hearing from these "supporters" is Driver's License, open Borders, NO ENFORCEMENT of EXISTING Laws regarding ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. Why do i yell? Because in Poll after Poll, THE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT open Borders Drivers Licenses for Illegals, and the DETERIORATION of the JOB MARKET. ILLEGALS have taken over the Construction Trade, Restaurant Trade, Hotel Trade, just about any Trade where minimal skill is needed, taking more then just "Jobs Americans will not do". I cannot stand that Phrase, my Grandparents did these jobs no one else would do when they came over LEGALLY from Hungary.
If the Bush Administration would like to explain to Californians why we are closing 40 Medical Centers because we provide FREE MEDICAL to Illegals at EVERY HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM, I would like to hear it. Their is a reason they are called ILLEGAL ALEINS. Enforce the CURRENT LAWS first, then talk. Yeah, I am PISSED.

I sense that the majority o... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I sense that the majority of Americans are very happy with immigration laws as written. No matter how benevolent we wish to be, we cannot afford the economic burden and security lapses inherent in lax immigration policies. Therefore, I do not see the government formally moving to alter these policies as written. I do not think either party wants to be associated with any specific legislation perceived as weakening immigration policies. However, that being said, it is not quite clear to me why the government cannot adequately enforce these laws. There seems to be some political expediency associated with a less than enthusiastic enforcement of immigration laws as written.

Dave, you hit the nail on t... (Below threshold)

Dave, you hit the nail on the head, neither party wants to be the one to propose more lax immigration laws, but it seems to be the dems who are SCREAMING about the GOP being "anti-immigration" (if it's ILLEGAL you bet your ass I'm against it) but trying to get the GOP to be the ones to propose laxing the laws, then they can say that the GOP cares nothing for security. They are just too tied up in TRYING to look like the party of the people to truly be that. Read Zell Miller's book (A National Party No More) and you'll see what a REAL Democrat is, for those left on the hill when Give'em Hell Zell retires, just call yourselves what you really are, SOCIALISTS!

I have homes in both Mexico... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

I have homes in both Mexico and the U.S. so I feel like I might have a better perspective of the situation than most do. It's hard for me to fault anyone wanting to move to the U.S. to make a better life for himself and his family. Most people that come to the U.S. from anywhere are only looking for a better life and are willing to earn it. I see it all the time when I'm in Texas, and I can tell you right now that I'd rather have an illegal alien willing to work for a living for a neighbor than someone like Ward Churchill lying his way through life and doing everything in his power to perpetuate an anti-American hate campaign. The fact that so many people are willing to take the risk of going to the U.S. speaks volumes against flaming leftists rectums like Churchill. Since we can't take everyone that wants to come I'd like to propose a system to swap on a one-for-one basis with any nation that has people wanting to come here. Churchill would obviously be happier in France, I'm assuming that there's one decent Frenchman left that would like to come here. For every Mexican that is willing to earn his own way we could trade a smelly hippie leftist welfare case to Mexico to make room for him. We could trade Bill Maher for someone that can actually do something useful. We could trade Noam Chomsky to Cuba for our pick of first basemen, even if the player was to be named later. The possibilities are endless! Swap Kerry, Kennedy, Reid, and Pelosi for a Vietnamese shrimp boat crew and we'd have four people with more integrity, common sense and ability. We could take any Iraqi blogger in exchange for Kos, Oliver Willis, or Maureen Dowd and at least have something worth reading for the effort. I'd gladly take a street mime for Sean Penn, and I hate mimes. While we're at it let's move the U.N. to the Louvre or the Prado and move the art to the U.N. building. I'm still considering who we could get for Hillary, right now it's a toss up between an Italian porn starlet and Malaysian garment worker but I'm leaning towards the garment worker. Any suggestions?

I agree with the person who... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I agree with the person who said that government overall is content with the status quo on immigration.

Also, you factor in the issue of the hispanics being a true swing voting class, and neither side wants to piss them off by coming across as stricter on immigration.

I honestly have no opposition to making legal immigration easier/cheaper for people who want to come here and work, but I am not keen on amnesty programs (just see the word amnesty get mentioned in the news, and the border patrol people will report a huge influx of people across the Mexican border). I think people should have to come here legally, and if they aren't legal, they should be sent back period.
Make legal immigration easy enough that people who want to come can, but make the consequences of coming here illegally unpleasant enough that people don't try it.

I too think Dave's got it e... (Below threshold)
Ray Midge:

I too think Dave's got it exactly right. It's not as if there aren't already the laws on the books, it's a matter of enforcement. And it's this duality that really at fault. A Senator/Congressman can always please about half the people by passing a tougher law, but then he can also please the other half by not appropriating funding for the INS or ICE rather to enforce it. The right are appeased with the new 'tough' law, the left rest assured it won't be enforced at more than a cherry picked 'media photo op' level.

eg. Phoenix, AZ gets a temporary assignment of 50 ICE agents for a 'crack down.' They busy themselves busting local Coyote safe houses- jam packed residences used as shipment point hubs to other northern cities. Is ICE serious about stopping immigration? No. Besides the temporary status of the agents, the press releases trumpeting their latest house bust congratulate themselves on thwarting Coyotes not in that such people are bad and promote illegal immigration, but in that these Coyotes are a menace in frequently cheating illegals and overcrowding them in their safe houses poses safety risks for a 'vulnerable' segment unstandably reluctant to approach authorities over their plight.

The Republican's don't want to touch illegal immigration. They don't want to become the 'anti-mexican' party to a fast growing segment of the electorate, don't want to adopt a public party stance on Immigration that'll drive Mex-Amer's in masse to the Dem's they way they did over civil rights w/r/t african americans (seemingly permanently). They think they are playing the game they have to to remain a viable party in 2030. They will make some noise to please their base in the border states, but nothing morel.

So you can forget about change. If this new ICE isn't going to be funded to realistically crack down on illegal immigration post 9/11, it ain't going to happen in the future. Elected/Electable Republicans and their party consulatants can read demographic trends and made their decision to do nothing behind party doors.

Besides, they'll argue (behind those closed doors), no level of funding could stop the flow anyway. The only real weapon? A national ID card, and employers unable to employ a person without one. That would certainly work, it'd dry up the employment pool in one fell swoop, no new agents needed, that the flow would dry to a trickle. Problem? Yeah. Beside business interest loving illigal immigration, quasi-libertarians like me recoil at such a 1984-esque prospect as a Federal ID card. "Hell, why not just tattoo my forehead with a #?" I think with a shudder.

Nothing will change. The R party already made its decision, they just haven't told you yet (with words, at least).

The reasons W is against en... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

The reasons W is against enforcing our current laws or doing anything to limit illegal immigration are: Ford,IBM,Nike,Gillette and other big companies that employ these people as invisible workers.
Let me tell you how a friend (a jr. exec at IBM )explained it to me. Even though it takes three illegals to do the work of 2 Americans IBM determined 10 years ago that they come out way ahead. Illegals are not on the books anywhere; they are invisible. Therefore no unemployment, disability, SocSec, and other payroll taxes. In Cal this can add about 30% to the base pay. No retirement, medical, psychiatric, or dental insurance. In Cal another 10 - 25% depending on base pay. Illegals will work for a base pay that is only about 60% of what an American wants. So IBM determined in the early 90's that they actually save about 35-45% to have 3 illegals do the work of 2 Americans.
The Republicans are not going to put a big hurt on Nike or Ford's bottom line by closing the border.

How do these corporations a... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

How do these corporations account for the wages they pay these illegal workers off the books? I won stock in a couple of the ones you mentioned and some more that implied and I doubt your story has a shred of truth to it. Do you think the CEOs just take it out of their own pockets? Some kind of illegal alien payroll slush fund? And all along I though they just outsourced the jobs to the countries those people lived in, the legal, reasonable, and accountable way to do it, silly me.....

That should say "own" not w... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

That should say "own" not won but it's hard to type and laugh at the same time. I've heard some tin-foil conspiracy stories before but that's the funniest I've heard in quite a while.

Don't we have a lot of troo... (Below threshold)
Rich:

Don't we have a lot of troops that need to be trained in handling foreigners. Seems to me that could be part of the program. Just have our boys work patrols and such along the border getting lots of training in parameter defense,desert conditioning,dealing with foreign speaking nationals. All the while the immigrants are rounded up and processed by either the work card thing or just sent back accross the border. It has taken years for their numbers to get this large..it will take years for us to shrink them.

President Bush wants to hav... (Below threshold)
Anis:

President Bush wants to have amenesty for illegal
aliens whereas legal permanent residents like me have been waiting patiently for years to unite with my spouse who has been waiting "legally" for more than two years. My only crime I married after
getting my green card. There is a visa category for spouses and families of H1B/L1 visa holders because they are sponsored by businesses but none for us.

A lot of folks have suggested the best way to unite for people in my situation is to get her illegally through mexico. People in my situation have been trying to approach senators and congressmen but no one seems to agree that it is an issue but at the same time go out of way for illegal aliens.

What's at stake here people... (Below threshold)

What's at stake here people is the survival of America asa nation state. The dissolving of our borders that is well underway will forever change every aspect of our country. This will happen unless YOU get involved.

Proud legal immigrant and citizen.

At least its a discussion a... (Below threshold)

At least its a discussion about something other than "over there".....All in all, it just makes me sick to my stomach and completely sad that our borders aren't secure at all.

you are all idiots, don't y... (Below threshold)
jesus pena:

you are all idiots, don't you understand that illegals are a slave force that is helping the USA economy? if not for them, lots of products and services would be more expensive for you, stupid! the rich capitalists that own the corporations benefit from the slaves and are more competitive because of them. and if you say that your taxes are paying for the services used by illegals, your are wrong, dumbass! corporate america pay for almost 80% of the taxes, middle class pays for the rest and lower classes pay less than they receive.

Why is it so important in y... (Below threshold)
s9:

Why is it so important in your mind to make immigration to the United States more difficult than establishing permanent residency?

If you have enough wherewithal as an immigrant to get your life organized in America with an American roof over your head, then I don't see why we shouldn't make an honest American taxpayer out of you.

Jay Maxwell writes: ... (Below threshold)
s9:

Jay Maxwell writes: What's at stake here people is the survival of America as a nation state.

WTF? Are you INSANE? How in the nine million names of the gods does anything revolving around the issue of America's undocument immigrant population constitute an existential threat to the United States?

Anis writes: ...w... (Below threshold)
s9:

Anis writes: ...whereas legal permanent residents like me have been waiting patiently for years to unite with my spouse who has been waiting "legally" for more than two years. My only crime I married after
getting my green card.

Actually, this points one of the high points on the list of progressive immigration reform proposals. Progressives are appalled that U.S. immigration policy is not geared toward uniting families. If it were up to people like me, your green card would entitle your spouse to enter the United States to share a residence with you.

Conservatarians typically oppose this reform because they are consumed with horrific visions of "illegals" using fake marriages to pump family members into the welfare programs we've spent the last ten years dismantling.

No, jesus, you're the idiot... (Below threshold)
David Brock:

No, jesus, you're the idiot.

Illegal immigration costs California tax payers 10.5 billion a year. For the average California family, gets a $1200.00 a year bill. Hospitals are closing because they can't afford to eat the cost for providing care to Mexico. Get in a serious accident and you need to go to a trauma center, you may be shit out of luck because they are closing or do not have on call staff. Our infrastructure is falling apart. And, our schools are overcrowded because we are stuck with educating Mexico, too. We are terrorized by their gangs. All for what? A dime off a head of lettuce? Who gives a shit!

WTF? Are you INSANE? How... (Below threshold)
seelow heights:

WTF? Are you INSANE? How in the nine million names of the gods does anything revolving around the issue of America's undocument immigrant population constitute an existential threat to the United States?
Posted by: s9

WTF? Because: 1.Control of the borders is an elementary attribute of statehood 2. The presence of an illegal settler population of some 20 million makes a mockery of the law and devalues citizenship , especially when the imperial courts give a plethora of rights to the illegals and their ethnic mafia and corporate lobbyists continually demand more 3. Since the vast majority of illegals are Mexican at what future point do we cease being the US and start becoming Mexico? The same thing coould be said of such a huge influx from any single country. Remember that a nation-state is made up of- guess what ?? People!

seelow heights write... (Below threshold)
s9:

seelow heights writes: Control of the borders is an elementary attribute of statehood.

What makes you think the United States can't control its borders? No state in the world has more power to control its borders than the United States.

seelow heights writes: The presence of an illegal settler population of some 20 million makes a mockery of the law and devalues citizenship , especially when the imperial courts give a plethora of rights to the illegals and their ethnic mafia and corporate lobbyists continually demand more.

Then make acquiring citizenship or a green card as easy as establishing a permanent residence. The mockery you're complaining about would stop tomorrow if we did that. Why keep making it so much more difficult to obtain legitimate paperwork than to get permanent residence? What possible utility is there in that?

seelow heights writes: Since the vast majority of illegals are Mexican at what future point do we cease being the US and start becoming Mexico?

What are you really afraid of here? It can't be that you're afraid of the U.S. annexing Mexico after it ratifies the U.S. Constitution. Or are you seriously concerned about the prospect of the U.S. throwing out its own Constitution and adopting the Mexican one? You do realize that's madness, right?

FROM S9What makes... (Below threshold)
seelow heights:

FROM S9
What makes you think the United States can't control its borders? No state in the world has more power to control its borders than the United States.
Of course the capability is there, what is lacking is the will. No doubt the main reason for this is that the US govt is captive to pro-cheap labor corporate interests.
MORE FROM S9
Then make acquiring citizenship or a green card as easy as establishing a permanent residence. The mockery you're complaining about would stop tomorrow if we did that. Why keep making it so much more difficult to obtain legitimate paperwork than to get permanent residence? What possible utility is there in that?
Right.Give automatic legal status to anyone who wants it once they set foot on US soil. This is sheer lunacy.
STILL MORE FROM S9
What are you really afraid of here? It can't be that you're afraid of the U.S. annexing Mexico after it ratifies the U.S. Constitution. Or are you seriously concerned about the prospect of the U.S. throwing out its own Constitution and adopting the Mexican one? You do realize that's madness, right?
I think you have a paper fetish. A nation is made up of more than documents. If a hundred million Russians moved into Mexico over the next x number of years do you think anything substantial would change in Mexico? Do you really think that the only difference between Mexico and the US lies in their respective legal systems?




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