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Adventures In Cutting And Pasting

Yesterday, the Boston Globe wrote an editorial that seems to come out against New York Governor Spitzer's plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Their main argument against his three-tiered plan (one for citizens and legal residents, one good enough to gain entry into Canada, and the third a lower-level one only good as ID in New York State) is that it will become a de facto way of identifying illegal aliens, as anyone who qualifies for the first two would most likely avoid the third. This would "stigmatize" the bearers of that ID, and that is BAD.

My first idea was to cut and paste the editorial, then find and replace every instance of "undocumented" with "illegal." (For the record, there is one use of "illegal aliens" and one of "illegals," but four "undocumented immigrants," one "undocumented drivers," and one speculative "the formerly undocumented.") How differently would the piece read if it referred to "illegal aliens" throughout, along with "unlicensed drivers?"

But then another thought occurred to me. The conceit behind such programs, as I understand it, is to "separate the wheat from the chaff," to restrict law enforcement to those illegal aliens who are busily committing serious crimes and not go after those whose offenses are lesser -- being in the US without permission, identity theft, tax evasion, fraud, and all the other petty offenses necessary to continue living in the United States illegally.

But I was reminded that this was New York, and that brought to mind Rudy Giuliani's cleaning-up of New York City. One of the things he did that helped tremendously was he ordered his police to go after ALL crimes, not to just focus on the big crimes and let the lesser ones slide.

I wonder if the same sort of approach might help on the issue of illegal aliens. Simply institute an "illegal is illegal" policy, and see how that works.

I once read a novel that quoted Chairman Mao about insurgents -- they must swim like fish among the sea of peasants. The idea was that insurgents/terrorists/rebels should blend in with the civilian populace, invisible and drawing strength from them, until they strike -- and then fade back into the background.

The solution the character in the novel used was to "drain the pond" -- he rounded up whole groups of people and drove them across his borders into the nations of his neighbors. It was a win-win-win-win for him -- he got rid of dissidents and potential dissidents, weakened his neighbors as they had to care for the refugees, it provided him with a ready path for sending infiltrators and trouble-makers into those nations, and then had a ready-made justification for overthrowing those governments when they failed to take care of those people.

The plan, as executed by General Belewa, was grotesquely cruel and inhumane, and helped eventually to his defeat. But the core of the idea is solid -- so many of the serious criminals among the illegal aliens draw their support -- willingly or not -- from the general community of illegal aliens.

We already have a ready-made justification for draining the pond of illegal aliens -- they're here illegally, let's send them home. And as the water drops, the bigger fish will be exposed and end up flopping around, making them easier to find.

The beauty of the plan is that it isn't overly vulnerable to the "perfection fallacy" -- "there's no way we can deport all 12/15/20/30 million illegal aliens!" My normal response is "well, we certainly can't if we don't try." But in this case, we don't need to get rid of all of them -- just a significant portion ought to put a dent in the real problem ones. And it wouldn't require any new laws -- just enforcement of existing ones.

Which is why I don't expect it to go anywhere. It's too simple, too fair, too common-sensical. It's doomed as national policy.

(Update: book link fixed. Thanks, wolfwalker.)


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Comments (14)

Even simpler than that: exp... (Below threshold)

Even simpler than that: experience is already showing that even a small move in the direction of increased enforcement will scare many of the illegals into leaving. Just as it scared many of NYC's petty crooks into going straight or leaving.

Incidentally, you remembered the wrong novel. General Belewa and his ruthless-but-effective tactics are in Sea Fighter, not Sea Strike.

(also a James Cobb fan)

If we cut off the demand fo... (Below threshold)

If we cut off the demand for illegals from an employer standpoint, and prosecute any and all of their crimes, the problem begins to solve itself.

Im all for a $5,000 per week per illegal fine for employers. Second offense is $10,000, 3rd is $25,000 per week fine.

It's pretty easy to come to America the right way, and do the right things. We needn't reward those who dont by offering free healthcare, schooling, shelter, etc etc etc.

The funny thing is most ill... (Below threshold)

The funny thing is most illegals are getting by without one. Most probably wouldn't get one. First, some will assume they may be found out directly from the program. Others will believe it will create a paper trail that will lead to them being indirectly tracked down. Or, it may force the carrying insurance or make they accountable if they don't. The latter defeats the whole purpose of being illegal.

There are only three real reasons to use this. Those who will use the program to vote, claim a false identity or get jobs they can't get now.

The only ones that will use the program as intended are for jobs that absolutely insist on licensed drivers. Jobs where the public demand for being licensed supersedes the pro-illegal alien crowd. Things like cabbies, truck drivers, bus drivers, etc. It will enlarge opportunities for illegals and worsen the problem.

The rest will be for more sinister reasons.

GianniDThe demand ... (Below threshold)


The demand is not from an employer standpoint; it is totally CONSUMER driven. Have you noticed that the biggest 'busts' are at Wal-mart and food processing plants?

Why, because consumers demand cheap prices.


BTW, it is extremely hard to come to the U.S. legally. It takes years and is very cumbersome.

Drivers liscens for illegal... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Drivers liscens for illegal laeins might as well give them a uzi and tell them to go shoot in a crowed shopping mall this is just another example of what these political hacks are doing to create the NORTH AMERICAN UNION they need a new govenor in New York the state

The demand is not ... (Below threshold)
The demand is not from an employer standpoint; it is totally CONSUMER driven. Have you noticed that the biggest 'busts' are at Wal-mart and food processing plants?
Employers can choose to brake the law to get an advantage over the competition. This forces all other employers to follow suit. Even if consumers know who is using illegals and avoid those places, the won't be able to avoid them for long.

It also like saying corporate pollution and tax evasion is CONSUMER driven. However we do a reasonable job of enforcing both of those at the corporate level.

You're probably right about... (Below threshold)

You're probably right about such a simple
idea not being implemented.
Jay Tea for president!

Here's a wider net to cast:... (Below threshold)

Here's a wider net to cast:

How about either equally enforcing laws on the books, or taking off/modifying the approach for the ones we don't enforce equally?

I can think of a few areas we can solve current ills:

1) I agree with the immigration issue - definitely a proper approach. Even if it starts in one State, the neighbors over run with "refugees" will either suffer greatly (I'm thinking Massachusetts) or follow suit.

2) Speed Laws- either enforce them or make the speeds enforceable uniformly.

3) Drug Laws - I'm all for legalizing just about anything on an Indian Reservation with strict sobriety checkpoints at all exits. The Mafia and its cousins will no doubt be contracted out (similarly to casinos), the drugs will be inspected and standardized, and treatment centers funded by taxes on the profits (current drug treatment centers woefully underfunded and too few, our jails becoming a major warehouse for these folks).

4) Sex Laws - Is there really any need for laws about intimate acts between consenting adults? I'm fine with proscribing them below a certain age. However the difference between age of intellectual/psychological maturity (which some never reach) and physical maturity when it is safe to have a baby (somewheres between 17 and 22), and when you are old enough to support a family (gotta be more than a few years after high school) and age when the hormones, media and brain structure start telling you to reproduce like a rabbit (11-16) is a paradox when it comes to choosing where to draw the line.

there's no way we can de... (Below threshold)

there's no way we can deport (them) all... ...so why try?
Funny, but we don't take this philosophy any where else! We can't eliminate all crime, pollution or poverty, yet we continue to do what we can!

I believe that the deterence of a deportation policy would extend beyond the actual numbers of illegals deported, as others evaluated the risks of coming or staying illegally in the US.

All the public talk just se... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:

All the public talk just seems to exacerbate the problem. Foreign nationals hear that America is going to close the borders or give amnesty and they rush up here. Men and women who might wait longer to have children now have "anchor babies" to better their odds of not getting deported/becoming US citizens.

Jay is absolutely correct about insurgents. William S. Lind says that "In Third Generation war, invasion by immigration can be at least as dangerous as invasion by a state army. I think he alludes it carries on to fourth gen warfare.

I'm all for legal immigration, and the kind which doesn't discriminate (as it currently does). Illegal, not so much.

d'oh! The above link goes ... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:

d'oh! The above link goes to an anti-war site. Guess I was too focused on trying to find some info I read long ago. :) Mea culpa.

It still stands, though. I just wanted to forewarn you.

Just as so many are doing t... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Just as so many are doing their Pavlovian thing in regard to Clinton...(whom i despise)
Ya really think Rudi's support of a Pedo Cardinal and lifting Bernie K through the ranks won't be fodder?
Ya think NYFD won't call Rudi out?
Republicans are saying "Please HRC"
Democrats are saying "Please Rudi"
Those of us that see both as phonies?
Buckle up!

As for immigration...... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

As for immigration...
Have you, or somebody you know been replaced by a company hiring illegal immigrant?
Have you, or somebody you know been replaced by a company going outside our country?

Which is the threat that you have the most experience?
But hey...look at the shiny immigration thing..and keep saving money from buying those cheap products from China.

imhotep:BTW, i... (Below threshold)


BTW, it is extremely hard to come to the U.S. legally. It takes years and is very cumbersome.

Quick... call a whaaaambulace for imhotep!

Too frickin' bad it's haaaard!!! And after the wait, and after gaining entry legally it is very much healthier for the individual and very much more rewarding both in educational and financial terms than where they came from.






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