By Bruce Fein – – Friday, September 19, 2014
There is no immigration crisis.
There is not even an immigration urgency or priority.
Complacency is the order of the day.
Our imperfect immigration rules and enforcement are earmarked by ambivalence and irresolution. They have been with us for more than four decades, and the sky has not fallen.
They are imperfect.
But they are superior to the bipolar alternatives on the political agenda, i.e., citizenship for approximately 11 million illegal immigrants who broke the rules (and who probably would support Democrats in elections), or wholesale deportations coupled with the equivalent of a Chinese Wall along the Southwest border to staunch further illegal crossings.
Politicians have invented an immigration crisis in search of wedge issues to gain an electoral advantage. If there were a genuine crisis, Congress and the president would not chronically defer action on the immigration front with the predictability of the rising and setting of the sun. President Obama’s latest deferral of executive action until after the November elections is emblematic. Only a tiny fraction of voters identify immigration as a pressing issue.
Current policy reflects an optimal equilibrium. On the one hand, we respect or admire the ambition, industry, frugality and moxie of the typical illegal alien. That is why they are generally coveted as mangers, employees or entrepreneurs. (A minority of employers exploit the vulnerability of illegal aliens to deportation by skirting labor protections). Ordinary citizens thus refrain from alerting Immigration and Customs Enforcement of suspected illegal aliens like they would report suspected child molesters with alacrity. Most of their personal interactions with illegal immigrants are positive.
Illegal aliens are more law abiding than the average American — in part to avoid the risk of deportation. Their tax contributions generally exceed the costs of social services or welfare benefits. To the extent they are not fully assimilating American culture and political values, the fault lies not with them but with ourselves. We should insist on teaching that celebrating the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are more imperative than honoring Cinco de Mayo. Presidents Washington and Lincoln are monuments in the annals of liberty. Cinco de Mayo is an inkblot. Our reluctance to teach the philosophical greatness of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Civil War Amendments to every student in America is disgraceful.
Despite the benefits of illegal immigration, we still deplore rampant law violations as inconsistent with the rule of law. Moreover, we believe immigrants who respect the law by waiting in line according to the rules should be preferred to immigrants who circumvent the queue by illegal border crossings. Thus, we support immigration law enforcement.
But we do so half-heartedly, like the enforcement of laws against alcohol during Prohibition. We want some enforcement, but not too much.
The result is a muddling policy toward illegal aliens. It should not be disturbed either by Congress or the President except at the edges.
What is killing the country is a stupendous national debt approaching $20 trillion and an executive waging perpetual global warfare with limitless power.