March 24, 2013
How Is an Illegal Alien? (Part 2)
For obvious reasons, lawyers tend to be overly legalistic -- that is, substituting "legal" and "illegal" for "right" and "wrong." If a law has been adjudicated and upheld, lawyers either tend to take that as the final answer, or else they argue that it was wrongly decided; rarely do attorneys argue, even in the political arena, that law is by nature an imperfect guide, and that morality precedes and supercedes it. That's why it's so dangerous to have a Congress and presidency largely controlled by members of the bar: Too many legalistic policies.
Contrariwise, ordinary civilians (non-lawyers) look first and foremost to the issues actually at stake, and little to none at the history of litigation on some arcane point of law. Civilians understand that the right of "jury nullification" is fundamental and vital under the rule of law; most lawyers literally cannot even comprehend the concept: The law is the law!
In the real world, policy schisms must ultimately be fought and decided in the arena of culture, not in the courts (though they are of course important); the culture-war has always been, and will always be more decisive than mere legal rulings.
When I look at the mass influx of refugees from socialism, religious fanaticism, and political chaos, I see a continuity of desperation, comprising both legal and illegal immigrants. I see the great majority of them not as "alien" to us, but reflecting universal revulsion against kleptocracy and theocracy plus universal parental hope of a better life for their children.
The lawyerly mind tends to see the same mass influx as criminals who broke the law and must be severely punished, as if they were nothing but bank robbers, con men, and cutpurses. And certainly not humanized so far as to allow them ever to become citizens!
Cultural forces will decide the issue, not Congress nor the courts. That is why the "anti-legalizers" who oppose any form of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- even one that includes paying a fine, paying back taxes, waiting many years, and so forth -- consistently use the emotionally charged word "amnesty": The activists are trying to crush the cultural meme that says "moving your kids from cosmic horror to something approaching normalcy is a good and decent thing to do, even if it breaks somebody's law."
The anti-legalizers strive to introduce a new meme: "Illegal immigrants are a virus whose only purpose is to destroy America, steal your car, burn down your house, and rape your daughters."
It's a futile attempt; it simply won't work for one very powerful reason: There are so many illegal immigrants in America today that nearly everybody "knows" one (or a former one) within only two or three degrees of separation. And the ones they "know" don't fit the mold of parasite or vampire. Often employer or friend isn't even aware that the immigrant is actually illegal until he or she is outed. The outing rarely induces friends to turn on the illegal; far more likely that friends become allies -- and enemies of those they perceive as trying to throw their pal out of the country for no good reason.
And another conservative conversion bites the dust.
Contrariwise, nearly everybody is familiar with government intrusion, government overreach, government perversity, government theft, and government tyranny. Very few Americans like Congress or the courts, and only about half like any given president (and even that half are mostly tribalists).
Therefore, there is much more sympathy towards illegal immigrants than there is towards the Republican conference that is trying to interdict and deport them.
It's a losing battle; the only question is whether we find a functional compromise of immigration reform that makes future illegal immigration less likely... or whether we make this the last stand of republicanism, and watch ourselves go the way of the Federalists, the Democratic-Republicans, and the Whigs.
I do not want conservatives to usher in another six-decade era like Woodrow Wilson through Jimmy Carter, in which we established the permanent, floating, socialist Leviathan. But if we fight to the death for a losing cause on the wrong side of culture -- immigration is in our national blood -- we may very well live to see President Hillary, President Godfather Rahm, and ultimately President Gavin Newsom. Or we might see the repeal (or ignoring) of the 22nd Amendment, and Barack "Skeets" Obama might be elected to a third and fourth term.
We have already found a workable compromise for gays who want to have the protections of marriage: allowing for domestic partnership but not same-sex marriage, coupled with allowing some form of covenant marriage for those who wish it. It isn't perfect, and it doesn't stop either side from pushing, but that center will probably hold.
We cannot achieve total victory -- but the Left can, if we make it a steel-cage deathmatch. So now is the time for the GOP to offer a real and working compromise... because the alternative to a negotiated compromise is certain defeat.
Defeat is never glorious. Defeat is always ignominious. And defeat has very real and very harsh consequences that can long outlive both losers and victors.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 24, 2013, at the time of 3:08 PM
The following hissed in response by: Tom Jedrzejewicz
I don't have much patience with the "anti-amnesty" arguments.
That ship has sailed. Effectively, we gave amnesty through a lack of enforcement of the immigration laws, a lack of security at the border, and the acceptance / welcoming of the illegals in virtually every aspect of American life.
IMHO, conservatives should focus on:
** securing the border.
** using illegal status as a way to rid ourselves of criminals through deportation.
** removing the eligibility of illegals from welfare and other public assistance.
** integrating and normalizing those illegals who are otherwise law-abiding.
The following hissed in response by: snochasr
You confuse me with the argument that "amnesty" (excuse me for using the correct word) is something done for the good of the Republican Party. I thought that you were arguing that allowing law-breakers (though not criminals by your own [odd, IMHO] definition) to stay in this country and become citizens was simply the RIGHT and moral thing to do. I think this is wrong in at least two ways. First, it all pretty much hinges on what any sizable plurality of those illegally here have actually done with their lives. Yes, I know several who have families here and work hard, giving their kids educations (where the public schools actually work), etc. But I do NOT think they are equally as good a prospect for citizenship as the man who carries a few drugs across and decides to stay, sending money back home to family, if he has any.
There is also the matter of the sheer number of crimes that someone here illegally must commit to stay, including driving without a license, or voter fraud if they DO have a license, misrepresentation, theft of government services, failure to report (part of the previous amnesty law), document fraud, perhaps quite a list if a lawyer looked at it. Regardless of that, I used to favor some form of amnesty, somehow "penalizing" these folks appropriately, but no more. I was convinced that to send people back across the southern border was essentially a death sentence. But when a couple of states passed laws requiring employers to comply with e-Verify, many people self-deported, and they wouldn't do that if their families faced such dire circumstances.
In short, while I might agree with you that those already living exemplary "American" lives shouldn't be deported out of them, it is not a human right to be here, and I cannot imagine any government law that would create a fair means of determining who is which. As perverse as it sounds, I favor a "wink-wink" approach. This would start with a universal requirement for e-Verify use for employment, including a test for all employees (approx. 9 million of them) known to be using false SS numbers. Those who fail would be registered as illegal aliens and given some "provisional status." THEN they would be told they would have one year to appeal to stay here legally (under what provision, I don't specify) or to voluntarily leave the country. THEN, with the new legal immigration process in place, we would have a "wide gate" for people to legally come across the border, welcoming first those who, by some magic (wink-wink), already have a job waiting, a known place to stay, community ties and possibly family here already, who would be legalized provisionally if Papa came in legally by this route. Like a true amnesty, we would simply "forget" the crimes of that other person of the same name who used to work here, live here, etc. And it would quickly weed out those who, by your definition, are undesirable with a lot more precision-- case by case-- then would some arbitrary and hidebound set of laws and rules like those that got us in this mess.
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