Some commenters are asking for my opinion on the amnesty bill. I already gave my opinion on a similar bill in January 2004 and haven’t changed my mind much.
First, I see no reason to grant legal status to millions of illegals, based on platitudes about how we can’t have people “in the shadows.” Under that theory, we need to give amnesty to everybody who has a warrant out for their arrest, as they too are living in shadows. If you break the law, you end up in the shadows. I don’t feel a duty to bring you out.
Bringing illegals out of the shadows would presumably make them eligible for benefits other citizens enjoy — such as unemployment benefits. This will create a need for a new underclass of illegals that can’t receive such benefits. Remember: these are the folks who “do the jobs Americans won’t do.” Except that we really should say: they do the jobs that potential welfare recipients won’t do. My solution would be to get Americans off welfare. Instead, we appear to be headed towards bringing illegals “out of the shadows” and into the bright light of the government dole. Here’s what I said in 2004, and I think it remains true:
My view is that our problem is not so much illegal immigration as the increasingly socialistic nature of our economy. There are certain things that we want done, but nobody wants to do them, because government makes it easy not to. So we let illegals do those things, for wages we would never tolerate for ourselves, and look the other way. As long as this is the case, there can be no solution to the problem. The very second that we legalize one set of people, for humanitarian reasons, we will immediately require a new class of illegal people to take their place — because in our increasingly socialistic economy, it is precisely the illegal status of illegal immigrants that makes them so attractive to the economy.
(Things would be different, of course, without welfare. Magically, those crap jobs would get done, and people would not be able to turn up their noses at the wages.)
So granting legal status will act as a magnet for yet more illegals — and more people means more cost. I am convinced that when we talk about the economics of illegal immigration, we systematically overlook the costs. We are spending billions to add 50,000 beds to a prison system that houses tens of thousands of illegals that never should have been in the country to begin with. Does anyone count that as an offset against the wonderful benefits we supposedly get from illegal immigration?
At the same time, I don’t support mass deportation of all illegals. First, it would never gain the necessary public support, and anyone who thinks otherwise is dreaming. Even if we could get past logistical concerns and issues of resources, the media would raise a stink, convincing the public that the U.S. is another incarnation of Nazi Germany. It will never happen.
Also, I am sympathetic to those who come to this country seeking a better life for their families. I would do the same in their position.
So if deporting millions won’t happen, what can we do? I am for firmer enforcement in two areas: border security and aggressive deportation of illegal aliens who commit crimes other than illegal entry. I have spoken about the latter idea until I am blue in the face. Why would we employ a single ICE agent to arrest illegals who are working and producing for society, when there are tens of thousands of unidentified illegals in our jails in prisons — 34,000 in Los Angeles jails every year — who will serve their sentences and hit the streets again to commit more crime?