“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” –George Washington
As the immigration imbroglio approaches its legislative zenith, so too is our nation approaching a point of no return (pun intended).
President George W. Bush on Monday night revealed the administration’s plan for processing 10- to 15-million illegal aliens. His five-point solution addressed the key issues of border security, guest-worker permits, employer responsibilities, amnesty and Americanization.
As noted last month in a related Patriot essay, “E pluribus unum?”, the only issue in recent years to create this degree of both inter-party and intra-party division has been the debacle over Dubai Ports World management of U.S. port terminals. Not coincidentally, these are both matters of border security.
While Beltway politicos remain deadlocked in contentious debate about what course to chart on immigration reform, the majority of Americans already agree on the proper course – and members of congress, especially the Senate, would do well to get in line.
The plan President Bush outlined Monday tracks with the most significant reform measures outlined in The Patriot’s [Immigration Reform Campaign | https://patriotpost.us/alexander/2004/12/10/immigration-policy-a-national-security-imperative/].
The first priority of the President’s plan is to improve border security and thereby stem the tide of illegal crossings. The administration plans to double the number of Border Patrol agents and to discontinue the ludicrous “catch and release” procedures that are currently compromising our southern border. The plan also deploys about 6,000 of 445,000 National Guard members to the border on temporary assignment until the additional Border Patrol agents are in place, along with high-traffic-area fencing and other technology assets. (The Guard will be under the authority of the governors of the states where deployed, who will determine rules of engagement.)
Our border with Mexico stretches 1,970 miles, and it is, at best, disingenuous to suggest we can seal it. As conservative icon William Buckley notes, “The border is too long, and the osmotic processes by which it is penetrated are too varied to oversee except by the kind of Bolshevik exercises used by East Germany before 1989.”
Further, those arguing that another Iron Curtain or Great Wall along our southern border will deter terrorism are either disingenuous or wholly uninformed. If the latter, they may also recognize that ignorance can be bliss – if only until reality beckons. Such a fortress wall, with its heavy guns mounted every hundred yards or so, might deter illegal immigration. However, the U.S. has a 4,200-mile border with Canada and 11,400 miles of continental coastline around the lower 48 states. It only takes a few Jihadis in a johnboat to land a nuclear weapon on one of our many secluded shorelines to spoil an otherwise beautiful day.
The best method to deter terrorism is the prosecution of our aggressive doctrine of pre-emption in the Long War against Jihadistan. Fantasies to the contrary may, of course, help some folks sleep better.
The fallacious security arguments not withstanding, we must take reasonable measures to secure what is now, largely, our open southern border.
The Bush administration’s second priority is to “create a Temporary Worker Program to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. These workers would be documented, would pay taxes to offset the cost of public services they receive and would have to return to their country of origin at the expiration of their permits.”
The primary objection to temporary work permits is that these workers would take jobs from Americans, but this assertion has been largely debunked. The fact is that our nation does not have a large pool of unemployed folks lining up for low-skilled labor jobs. In some areas of the country, there are significant labor shortages even with the influx of undocumented workers. In these regions, undocumented workers are being paid three or four times the minimum wage.
The success of the President’s third priority, which builds on his second, is critical to thwarting illegal migration across our southern border. He proposes to institute procedures that match immigrant labor supply and domestic employer demand. A finite number of temporary work permits would be issued and employers would be penalized for hiring undocumented workers. In addition, any employee who can’t demonstrate U.S. citizenship will have to possess a digitized, biometric, tamper-resistant ID card in order to be hired.
Does the notion of government obstruction of the free market make you recoil with indignation? (Oh wait, there is a border involved…) The risk here – and it’s considerable – is that the number of temporary work permits will be so heavily restricted that labor demands won’t be met, which will in turn restrict economic growth. In effect, politics will determine the number of permits issued, not the market.
The President’s fourth priority is to define amnesty – to draw a distinction between providing work permits to Latinos who have been in the U.S. gainfully employed for years, and providing fast-track citizenship. Regarding the latter, he said, “We must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration.”
The administration’s plan does provide a path to citizenship – but it is the same path that everyone else has to take, and illegal aliens who want to apply for citizenship would have to go to the back of the line.
President Bush rightly chastised those who “argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant – and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty.” Indeed, such talk amounts to idiocy. The full force of the U.S. government had difficulty evacuating 15,000 people from New Orleans last year, and some among us are suggesting we should pack up and deport 15 million people.
Further, economic models project that removing Latinos from the labor force en masse would throw the U.S. economy into an immediate recession. By and large, the economic benefit from their labor far outweighs the costs of services provided to Latinos. Clearly, however, some areas of the country are hit hard. This would include Southern California, where public services come at greatly inflated costs.
The President’s final proposal is perhaps his most important. “The success of our country,” he said, “depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly and an ability to speak and write the English language.”
That brings us to all the chatter about the creation of an “underclass” (to use Marxian terminology) of immigrants. Some of the same pundits who correctly assert that minimum wages should be determined by the marketplace rather than the government argue that allowing an increased number of Latinos to apply for citizenship and worker permits would create an “underclass.”
However, this is America. Only economic elitists argue that we have a class system here based on wages. To be sure, many of the “rich” folks in America have no class at all. Anyone who doubts this need only look to the world of sports, or to Hollywood, or to the media, or to corporate America, or to our nation’s capital. Wages are no more an indication of class than they are an indication of character.
This is not to say that an “underclass” does not exist, but to the extent it does, it is the result of the Left’s quest to do what they do best – institutionalize poverty. In the case of Latinos, the most significant obstacle to assimilation is the Democrats’ disgraceful advocacy for a bilingual America, which effectively ghettoizes the minority group.
The President’s emphasis on assimilation – on Americanization – thus flies in the face of those Democrats whose political fortunes depend on perpetuating an “underclass” and its various victimized constituencies.
At a meeting with Border Patrol agents in Yuma, Arizona yesterday, President Bush concluded, “You cannot secure the border unless you have all elements of a comprehensive plan.” Indeed, stemming the flow of illegal migration from Latin America depends on both improved border security and restricting employment to only documented workers.
As the final legislation takes shape, The Patriot will continue to advocate for the measures outlined in our [Immigration Reform Campaign | https://secure.PatriotPost.US/support/alert.asp?a=1].
Immigration legislation, in its final form, must first address national security issues, meaning border security and enforcement are paramount.
Only after the establishment of functional border security can a legitimate immigration debate take place.
At that point, immigration legislation must authorize and fund these priorities: enforcement of current immigration laws; immediate detention and deportation of those crossing our borders illegally; deportation of any foreign national convicted of a serious crime or seditious activity; a guest-worker program (with reliable documentation as a prerequisite) to meet the current demand for unskilled labor; penalties against employers who hire undocumented workers; no extension of blanket amnesty or fast-track citizenship (new citizenship applicants go to the back of the line); the preservation and provision of tax-subsidized medical, educational and social services for American citizens and immigrants here legally; and the Americanization of new legal immigrants, including an end to bilingual education and a national mandate for English as our nation’s official language.
Additionally, the Supreme Court must affirm that there is no Constitutional birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. The 14th Amendment’s relevant clause reads “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Children born to those who have entered the U.S. illegally, are not “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”
If immigration policy does not start at the border, our national heritage will end there.