There aren’t many things that this nation of immigrants agrees on, but there is one: that our immigration system is broken. Not just mildly in need of correction, but terribly, destructively and counterproductively errant.
Americans are horrified that there are tens of millions of noncitizens in the United States, without permission, while others are horrified that those millions aren’t granted the same full legal status that citizens enjoy.
The severity of the problem is such that an effort is afoot for what its supporters call “comprehensive immigration reform,” and its supporters have the mainstream media so deep in their pocket that even the naive conservative firebrand Marco Rubio has been convinced to risk his political career in support of the current proposal.
The Euphemism of the Day
Among the most offensive aspects of the Democrat bill being pushed by the Gang of Eight is its title. There is nothing comprehensive about this so-called reform.
The program would legalize most of the twenty to thirty million non-citizens currently here (of all nationalities, by the way, not just those from Latin America), giving them a promise of quick citizenship if they just pay a miniscule fine and agree to accept being added to the tax rolls. It would allegedly increase border enforcement in the future – though without adding walls or fences, one wonders how – and it does little else.
For all intents and purposes, the program accepts the status quo, ensures that there will be no punishment for the millions who came here illegally, and gives the Democrats some twenty million plus new voters within a couple of election cycles.
If the Republicans had any hope of winning back the White House in 2016, or possibly ever again, this bill would kill it.
And still they call it reform. It’s anything but.
Real Problems Demand Real Solutions
What are America’s problems today? Crime, unemployment, government overspending, government taxation, skyrocketing government debt, cultural balkanization, authoritarian and invasive government, a loss of both traditional morality and the work ethic.
Immigration – unmanaged and overwhelming – is at the heart of so many of these problems. This isn’t to say that unchecked immigration is the sole cause; America is a nation of immigrants, and must acknowledge the good as well as the bad. But even so…
- The drug and robbery gangs, and the prisons and morgues they populate, have seen their numbers swell with illegal immigrants.
- The welfare rolls, already bankrupting the nation and dooming millions in a nearly inescapable underclass, bleed oceans of red ink by sharing this doom with illegal immigrants.
- Our hospitals and clinics, particularly those along our southern border and in our biggest cities, are being bankrupted as they must provide free healthcare to tens of millions of illegals, giving the impression that the problem is with our healthcare and insurance systems, when in fact one of the biggest causes is the poverty and crime of that largely (though not entirely) immigrant underclass that uses, but cannot afford, our healthcare.
- Our governments, from the local school board to the presidency, have been corrupted by an electorate that no longer understands the philosophy of America, the philosophy of personal freedom and economic liberty that enabled our nation to succeed.
Yes, there are plenty of American-grown problems too. Many longstanding citizens born and raised in the USA are at fault for these matters as well, but we must deal with them separately. We can and should deal with the illegals first; their problems are of their own making, having come to America unbidden and without permission, a potentially far easier matter to resolve (logically at least, if not practically).
Fairness to the Legal Immigrants
America’s population didn’t get to 300 million plus from a single path. Northern Europeans, mostly British, settled our east coast first, and served as the source of our Founding generation’s forebears.
But we also grew by encouraging the assimilation of the Native American population already here, by participating in the global slave trade (almost entirely through purchasing slaves from African slave traders), by welcoming more Europeans, and others from across the globe, in the 19th century when we had few quotas and usually only checked the incoming for contagious diseases.
The 20th century saw more quotas, and the establishment of more formal approaches for entry – waiting lists, the issuance of Green Cards, testing and ceremonies for citizenship after years of patience. Respectable and generous exceptions were sometimes made, with cause; legal immigrants who served in World War II were granted citizenship automatically at the war’s end (Senator Rick Santorum’s father’s path, for example).
This new path was necessary as the need for added population decreased, and the recognition of the need to temper immigration with assimilation grew. Millions of patient people all over the world have followed the rules, waiting for openings in their visa quotas, so they could enter the USA as legal and welcomed individuals and families.
Michelle Malkin has spoken powerfully of the debt we owe to the honesty of these patient immigrants, for following the rules despite the knowledge that illegal paths of entry have been temptingly easy for decades. It would the greatest insult to them if we offered an amnesty to the gate crashers and line jumpers.
To whom does a nation owe the greater respect? To those who entered the relationship in a crime, or to those who entered the relationship with respect for their future neighbors and hosts?
There are some Republicans today who, terrified by demographics and maps, forget these basic rules of civility. They are easily tempted to take an easy path to solve without solving, to win friendship bound to be fleeting… without recognizing that such a path will be a slap in the face to the patient and legal immigrants who already populate the nation, and who are the party’s far greater prospects on Election Day anyway.
A Picture of Truly Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Do we need a comprehensive reform package? Certainly. The presence of twenty to thirty million illegal residents certainly proves it. But let’s not allow the politicians to pass off something as comprehensive if it isn’t. Let’s do what’s needed, all at once, and see if those claiming to want to solve the problems really mean it.
A truly comprehensive reform package would include, at minimum, the following components:
Employment Reform: When the United States had almost open borders in the 19th century, unemployment was negligible, and opportunities for advancement were everywhere. We now have real unemployment well above twenty percent, when fairly calculated; every new immigrant either adds to the unemployed, or takes a job that an American might otherwise have held.
We must therefore begin immigration reform with the creation of an economic boom that will employ both the unemployed already here, and the newcomers as well. All this requires is a Reaganesque tax cut – reducing the effective corporate income tax to about ten or fifteen percent, rolling back the many regulatory burdens of the past decade that have made America so inhospitable to business, eliminating the monstrosity of Obamacare that has effected a near full stop on the expansion of existing businesses.
Criminal Justice Reform: Among the many reasons to fear increased immigration is the fact that such immigration includes robbers, rapists, drug dealers, terrorists, murderers… our cities are plagued with gangs, many of them offshoots of Mexican and other foreign drug cartels. We rightly fear opening our borders when so many of those we allow in turn out to be criminals - and sometimes, as in the cases of the 9-11 "pilots" and the Boston bombers, mass-murdering terrorists.
We must therefore begin immigration reform with a reform of our criminal justice system… an end to the technicality acquittals and lack of prosecution that have turned our police stations into revolving doors. Our system doesn’t have a problem catching criminals; our police risk their lives to catch them, and then the system lets them go. We need aggressive prosecution, serious sentencing, and a return to the use of capital punishment for the violent rapists, drug dealers, brawlers, muggers, store robbers, gang recruiters and murderers who fill our prisons and bleed our resources.
Healthcare Reform: Also among the reasons to fear increased immigration is the fact that the provision of services for non-paying immigrants has caused the bankruptcy of countless hospitals and clinics all over the country, but especially along the southern border.
Advocates of the current “reform” package claim that citizenship will solve this problem, but that’s a bald-faced lie, as it would only enable hospitals to know the names of the people who can’t pay, not enable them to pay. Economic advances for these patients are far more important to our healthcare system (and to these indigent subjects of the discussion themselves as well), than the question of whether their Social Security Numbers are real or fake. All citizenship will do on its own is to place the economic burden for their care on already-bankrupt state and federal healthcare programs.
Immigration reform must therefore begin with a path to economic independence for the poor, as detailed above, and with the overthrow of Obamacare, a program specifically designed to bankrupt the healthcare sector by funding tens of millions more patients from the government purse.
Education Reform: Our school system is worse than broken. While our nation still has many good schools and colleges, the funding system for them is warped beyond recognition, and the multicultural approach driving them is almost entirely destructive.
Every justification for the government takeover of education – once an entirely private sector affair – in the 19th and early 20th century was based on the theory that it would help assimilate the students into a shared American culture, and provide a net economic benefit by turning students into more productive members of society. The idea was that they would become both better Americans in general and better taxpayers in specific; they would be more informed voters on Election Day, and more productive taxpayers on payday.
But what has really happened? The education establishment has become such a heavy millstone that the average salary delta between the uneducated and the educated is arguably no longer a net positive. Our high educational costs have driven potential employers out of the country at an alarming pace, as the schools themselves – particularly urban ones – have become more effective as gang recruiting offices than as centers of learning.
We need to spend more on guards at many of our schools, and eliminate the massive misdirection of multicultural, bilingual education. This nation is becoming balkanized, and it starts in the schools. Non-English-speaking people can’t understand campaign ads in English to be informed voters, can’t be viewed equally by potential employers, can’t participate equally in the civic groups of their communities.
Real immigration reform must begin with a renewed commitment to English as the single official language of our nation. No diploma should be granted without proof of fluency; no citizenship should be granted without proof of both fluency and a robust understanding of the Founding principles of this great nation. No government document should be written in any language other than English. And we need privatization of the schools – emancipation of the schools! – so that endless tax dollars no longer provide a blank check to the school monopoly, especially at the college level, where government money has facilitated such a massive unjustifiable increase in the price of higher education.
A Repudiation of Amnesty: Many rightly say that we can’t deport thirty million people. And this is true… not because it’s impossible, but because it won’t stick; many will just return. Deportation is an archaic solution. But we still must show that laws mean things and will be enforced, or we’ll just be establishing a principle that all six billion people on planet Earth are welcome to come to the United States.
We must broaden the work visas offered to applicants from abroad who follow the rules and apply at their nations’ embassies, properly accounting for our nation’s genuine workplace needs. As we improve our economy, these needs will grow, and so can the number of visas offered.
For those here who don’t want to return home, or who cannot because their parents illegally bore them here, we should offer a permanent guest worker program, a green card of sorts that legalizes them and adds them to the tax rolls, but just has no path to citizenship for themselves, only for their future children. An amnesty for line-jumpers and gate crashers and their progeny can not, must not involve any path to citizenship.
We must not saturate our electorate with tens of millions who began their presence here in crime. Legalization of those here is fair, but citizenship – and therefore electoral involvement – is not. If they want electoral involvement, they can go back to their home country and do it right; a generous break like this should not be stretched into a destructive capitulation that rewards lawbreaking with the keys to the republic.
A Cultural Reawakening
America has suffered greatly in the past hundred years. We have fallen far from the principles that our Founding Fathers held when they designed our magnificent form of limited government.
This is certainly not entirely the fault of immigrants, and it would be rhetorically unfair to blame the errors of homegrown destroyers Dewey, Wilson, LaFollette, and their ilk on immigrants or immigration. With the passage of the 16th and 17th Amendments, we did more damage to our nation ourselves than any immigrants ever could.
Nonetheless, our long fall from the Founders’ plan has to be stopped; this erosion of principle and understanding must be reversed. Our Founders designed a system that can only work with a united populace, a civilized, law-abiding, Judeo-Christian community that shares respect for limited government, capitalist economics, and Western Civilization.
Before we further dilute our voting population with even more people steeped in the foreign ways of feudalism, socialism, theocracy and tyranny, we must reawaken in the American mind an appreciation for the thought processes of our Founders.
It can be done. Some of our greatest Founders were immigrants themselves; nobody appreciated American principles more than Alexander Hamilton, Albert Gallatin, Robert Morris, and John Witherspoon, for example. But we cannot expect millions of immigrants to be assimilated into a nation of principled libertarian capitalists, when the body into which they’re assimilating has itself forgotten what that means.
We have much to do. Righting this ship is a complex effort, one well worth taking on… but shortcuts that reward illegality and further poison the well of this great nation are more destructive than any Washington politician dares admit.
Copyright 2013 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance lecturer. A descendent of Irishmen, Austrians, Germans and Italians, he’s proud of his ethnic heritage, but he’s prouder still – as we all should be – of our adopted heritage as Americans, as ideological heirs to the Founding Fathers who took the clay of this continent and sculpted from it the greatest nation on God’s green earth.
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