Illegal Immigration

06.24.2007

While watching the news a couple months back, I saw something that struck me as rather “oxymoronic.” The broadcast was about the protests in Los Angeles held by illegal immigrants or those who support their cause. While most of the signs that the protesters were holding read something like “Legalize Immigration,” “Land of the Free,” or other phrases advocating open borders, one of them said “No somos illegales.” For the English audience, this means “We aren’t illegals.” Interesting. This summarizes what I think has happened in this whole debate–politicians and many Americans are starting to think the same way.

The argument is, “They aren’t illegal, they were just doing what they thought was best for their families and American law got in their way.” What!? They’re illegal. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The law is in place and they have broken it. Is it sad to see families split up because a hard-working father has to go to jail? Sure. Is it sad to see parents forced to go to back to their homeland and make the decision of whether to leave their children here? Yes, it definitely is. But when did we start changing our laws because of some disparaging images of innocent-looking and good-hearted people when these people are, when it comes down to it, illegal. They became illegal and chose the possibility of facing such issues the second they stepped over the border. Whether it was one week ago or ten years ago doesn’t, or shouldn’t, matter. They made the decision just like someone who robs a store, even out of need for food for his/her children. Does it mean I don’t feel bad for such people? No. I’m saying it’s an illegal act and should be treated as such.

So what’s the harm in making exceptions?

  1. Those who came to the United States legally are suddenly discredited. After all, they did the work and didn’t need to!
  2. Those who have been charged for crossing the border suddenly come up with a plethora of lawsuits because they were treated unfairly. I realize it shouldn’t hold any weight in court because changes in law generally can’t be applied retroactively, but it’s inevitable.
  3. Every other law will be challenged because, hey, if so many “innocent” people are breaking it, there must be something wrong with the law, not the people!

One other thing to address before I get off my soap box. Another reason pro-amnesty folks throw out there for legalizing the illegals is that the U.S. was created by immigrants. Aren’t we all immigrants? Yes, we are all immigrants–and so is everyone else in most every other country. The difference is that those coming from New England or the whereabouts were legal immigrants at the time and subsequently created the laws of immigration. If other countries decide to assume similar laws of immigration so that I must go through a process to become a citizen of their country, I believe it is their right and I will abide by it…even if I really, really wanted to go to that country.

Before you let your horses stampede, let me conclude by saying that I really do appreciate those hard-working, tax-paying, since-crossing-the-border-law-abiding, English-learning immigrants that have entered the country. I appreciate your contributions to the economy and our society. I welcome you into the country, our countrybut legally. I will not support the degradation of our nation’s law, society, and security to accommodate the need of a few who have bypassed but a single law: crossing the border. And if you love this country so much, neither should you.

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Comments

07.27.2007 / Ben said:

I don’t think we as a society can be too hard nosed with illegal immigrants. Sure they are breaking the law, but we haven’t really been enforcing the law for decades now. If there was a road in your town that everyone know the cops did not patrol, everyone would speed on it, would they not? And then if suddenly one day, after 20 years they decided to start patrolling, and you got pulled over, you would feel at least a little that it wasn’t fair – even though technically, you were breaking the law.

The solution to illegal immigration has to be a compromise between the right and the left. That means amnesty for at least some of the illegal immigrants. From a practical point of view, we can’t deport everyone – not only would it be extremely expensive and difficult, it would also do a great deal of harm to our economy.

In the end, the first step has to be to secure the border, and make LEGAL immigration easier. What to do about the illegal immigrants that are here is a hard question, but why can’t we take the first steps that everyone can agree on?

07.28.2007 / Ben said:

Couple of responses – I agree with you on criminals, they should be deported. However, I think all of this is a moot point until we secure the border.

Let me take a step back. Like you I do get a little irked by people that freeload on our system. Along with the freeloading problem, my biggest concern is terrorism. But I have absolutely no problem with illegal immigrants if they are good people trying to make a living and are willing to pick up their share. Let me counter your proposal –

1 – Secure the border. Start with a fence – its already been authorized by congress, lets just get the dang thing built.

2 – Get tough on illegal immigrants that break the law (with the exception of immigration law). Deportations for everyone (but only after the fence is built).

3 – Give immigrants a grace period to sign up for legal status, but lets not require them to pay back taxes, etc. Just make them start now and going forward. Paying retroactive penalties will probably disqualify almost everyone, and then we are back at square one trying to deport everybody. Plus, if they know they have to pay heavy penalties, they will just go underground, and never sign up. This is one of the problems that killed the last immigration bill.

4 – Make the immigration law easier. Sure there are people that went through all of the crazy loopholes to get here legally, and I don’t diminish what they have done – but if people want to come here, and they are not terrorists, and they are willing to pay taxes and pull their weight, why stop them? The more the merrier, it will be a boon for our economy, and we will help them lift themselves from poverty. I have a few friends that are on student visas and working visas. Honestly, the legal acrobatics that they have to go through are a joke. Our system is messed up, and needs to be streamlined. I don’t accept the argument that we are taking something away from legal immigrants by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. Fact is, the US screwed up in the first place. Lets just fix it.

As far as my example of the speeding ticket, I can appreciate your counter argument. However, in a practical sense, I think it still applies. The people who are here illegally know they have broken the law, but it is not a huge law, and we haven’t been enforcing it for years. Is it wrong? Yes. It definitely should have been dealt with before this. However, because of our snafu, we have to sort out the mess in practical terms. Lets put everything behind us, and start fresh. Build a fence, deport the criminals, grant amnesty to those who remain, everybody pays taxes, everybody wins. Moving forward, we get very strict on illegal immigrants. Everyone that crosses the border illegally from here on is deported, no questions asked.

What do you think?

07.27.2007 / Aaron Hardy said:

Hey Ben, thanks for commenting. I’m going to have to completely disagree with most everything you said. Here’s why:

If I got a ticket after 10 years of no patrolling, I would actually feel that it was quite fair indeed. I was breaking the law, I got away with it for 10 years, and now I got busted. I might feel sorry for myself and it would sure ruin my day, but I would not feel treated unfairly. I WOULD feel treated unfairly if I was the only one that got a ticket if everyone else was speeding as well, but that does not contrast my opinion. All illegal immigrants would be treated as ILLEGAL immigrants.

With this in mind, let’s say that YOU felt that it was unfair. Who cares? I don’t! What you did was illegal and should be treated as illegal. I see no rationale in saying, “Oh, well he feels it’s unfair. We’ll let him slip by this time.”

You have stated that we can’t deport everyone due to the great expense, difficulty, and harm to our economy. There is one other option I would personally be willing to consider. Those who are here illegally would be dealt with in the following way:

Immigrants that have a criminal record: Deport them. Absolutely no other consideration.

The immigrants that do NOT have a criminal record (other than crossing the border illegally, of course): These immigrants would be given a grace period where they must go through the process of becoming legal citizens (whether it’s difficult or not). During this grace period they would be required to retroactively pay all dues that they would have had to pay as a legal, honest citizen. This includes taxes, social security, school registration fees, hospital bills, etc. Other forms of retribution such as community service may possibly be substituted. If the immigrants could not complete what’s required during the grace period, they would be deported. Obviously, this would take some more thought in the details, but those are the basics.

One last thing. Yes, it may be extremely expensive and difficult to deport the illegal aliens. On the other hand, how much have we already paid in taxes to support their freeloading? How much has crime increased due to illegal immigrants? How much more have terrorists been invited into the country due to our lax attitude toward illegals? How many drugs have crossed the border because illegals have little reason to believe that they will be questioned about their legal status? Something to think about…

There is one thing we can agree on: the first step has to be to secure the border.

08.10.2007 / Charles Hargrove said:

1 – Break a law, pay the penalty
2 – Our government has a responsibility to enforce the current laws without needing to make new ones
3 – My grandparents came here legally, became citizens, worked, paid taxes, sent children off to war (as did two of my daughters after 9/11), etc
4 – If we move to another country, we are EXPECTED to learn their language and become their citizens
5 – In other words: if you want to move here then do it legally or not at all

08.29.2007 / Ben said:

Charles, I disagree with you completely. This kind of close minded view to the gargantuan problem of illegal immigration is exactly what keeps the status quo in place – and as a result, the snowballing problem gets bigger. There is no way that we can penalize all of the illegal immigrants, as much as it makes sense to do so on principle.

As long as there are enough people like you with this opinion, then the problem will only get worse, because we will never be able to solve it. It is simply impossible to deport all illegal immigrants or to expect them all to come running to pay a penalty – they are all basically in hiding anyway. Why would they show up to a government register to pay any kind of penalty?

What we need to do, is solve the problem FIRST, THEN resolve to do what you say. Lets grant amnesty, accept that we made mistakes in our immigration policy, THEN enforce rigorously the immigration laws so we never have to grant amnesty again.

11.04.2007 / Trevor said:

I’ve lived in Texas for 11 years. I’ve lived in California for 9 years.

A law, regularly unenforced, is no longer a law. Laws have a cause and an effect, and if there’s a cause (border crossing), but no regular and predictable effect (deportment) how can it be a law any longer? I can’t think of any exceptions to this theory–in the sciences or in religion.

I agree that illegal immigration is a problem. I think we should do anything we can to enforce what we put on paper as law 20 years ago. Build walls, set up sentries, quadrouple the number of people patrolling the border. Do anything you want. But don’t call it a law, and don’t call it illegal until there is a predictable cause and effect for the following or breaking of it.

I agree with the man holding the sign.

11.13.2007 / Aaron Hardy said:

Interesting point. Since you brought up the definition of “law,” here it is according to Merriam-Webster:

—–
1 a (1): a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (2): the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules (3): common law b (1): the control brought about by the existence or enforcement of such law (2): the action of laws considered as a means of redressing wrongs; also : litigation (3): the agency of or an agent of established law c: a rule or order that it is advisable or obligatory to observe d: something compatible with or enforceable by established law.
—–

So, from 1a, a rule of conduct or action prescribed OR formally recognized as binding OR enforced by a controlling authority. From this and the rest of the primary definition of “law,” the interpretation of whether a law must be enforced for it to exist to be a law seems to be left open for debate.

With that in mind, yes, technically, the immigrant could be “legal” if you take the term to be “a rule of conduct or action enforced by a controlling authority.” On the other hand, the immigrant could be “illegal” if you take the term to be “a rule of conduct or action prescribed.”

In any case, I don’t think the answer is as clear cut as either of us had hoped. The funny thing is, as picky and technical as this definition thing sounds, it’s what a large part of our reaction to “illegal” immigration is hinged upon.

06.08.2008 / Artan said:

I have to disagree completely with Aaron and Charles, and agree very much with Ben. From an immigrant’s point of view, I’ll just comment on some of Aaron’s points:
1. Aaron says: Those who came to the United States legally are suddenly discredited. After all, they did the work and didn’t need to! As an immigrant who came here legally and did everything according to the law, I would NOT feel discredited or sorry for myself having to jump through immigration hoops for years. I love this country so much, and worked hard to stay here. Although I’m not quite there, and there is still lots to be done, I am not giving up my legal means to become a citizen of this great country. Which brings me to another point Aaron said. If other countries decide to assume similar laws of immigration so that I must go through a process to become a citizen of their country, I believe it is their right and I will abide by it…even if I really, really wanted to go to that country.
Trust me, Aaron. Coming from a third world country where poverty is everywhere, a person is ready to do anything so he/she can live a better life. It’s like that story you mention of “…robbing the bank because I need to feed my children”. Not everyone understands immigration laws very well, and thus do not know how to follow them. I did. I made sure I understood anything, literally ANYTHING in the immigration law, so that I would do the right things to remain in this country legally. Most people don’t know them and it’s very hard for them to wrap their mind around them, a lot of them get screwed by dishonest lawyers and then get fed up with all the trouble of trying to be legal and give up, and other reasons…

2. Those who have been charged for crossing the border suddenly come up with a plethora of lawsuits because they were treated unfairly. I realize it shouldn’t hold any weight in court because changes in law generally can’t be applied retroactively, but it’s inevitable.
You said it right. Problem solved. A law existed at a time when crossing the border was a criminal act and you got punished. Now the law has changed, and those who went unpunished are no longer sought after.

3. Every other law will be challenged because, hey, if so many “innocent” people are breaking it, there must be something wrong with the law, not the people!
Now, this is a very extreme hypothetical situation and a very loose assumption. Illegal immigration is a very big problem for the United States, and not every other law (as you say it), is as sensitive as the immigration issue.

You also raised the following questions: “…how much have we already paid in taxes to support their freeloading? How much has crime increased due to illegal immigrants? How much more have terrorists been invited into the country due to our lax attitude toward illegals? How many drugs have crossed the border because illegals have little reason to believe that they will be questioned about their legal status? Something to think about …”
Let me tell you what I think! I think you have no point at all. I would like to ask the same questions right back at you. Do you know how much we have paid in taxes to support illegals’ freeloading? How much crime has increased due to illegal immigration? How much more have terrorists been invited into the country due to our lax attitude toward illegals? (This one especially does not hold water. I do not see any links between terrorism against the US and illegal immigrants. Most of the terrorists detained in US soil, have had legal status in the US.) How many drugs have crossed the border because illegals have little reason to believe that they will be questioned about their legal status? (The drug problem in the US is not concerned with a couple joints found in the pockets of some latino person on the border. It is a problem of organized crime, which again, is usually done by people having legal status in the US and those holding US citizenship. In other words, those who are filthy rich and smart businessmen who enter and leave the US whenever they wish through legal border points.)

I love this country very much, and I feel blessed to be living here. I have great love and respect for the American people, and despise those who blame the US for anything that happens in the world or for being ‘non-welcoming’ to immigrants, or racist towards immigrants. To those who say those things about the US, I can only say, go in other countries and see how they treat immigrants (legal ones too), then we’ll talk.
But, if my comments have made anyone believe that I am very liberal and support illegal immigration, sorry but I have to disappoint you. I think it is wrong and illegal to break the law. There are illegal immigrants who have entered this country to earn a living and provide a better lives for their families. There are too many of them and it is becoming a problem. Deportation is not an option, it is too costly, too inhumane (except for the ones with criminal history), and too impossible to get everyone. They must be given the opportunity to get on legal channels and live as good citizens of this good country. I am VERY sure, the majority of them (if not 99.99%) will embrace that. I know many illegals, and they dream of something like that happening. They are not illegal because they want to be illegal: they simply, do not see a way or opportunity to become legal.

08.24.2008 / Aaron Hardy said:

Artan, thanks for commenting! I respect your opinions and I’m glad you expressed them. Here’s my response:

I’m unaccustomed to the difficult legal work that’s required to become an American citizen, but as I do my taxes each year I can only imagine how many details it could contain. I agree the process should be reviewed and improved. On the other hand, I still don’t see how it makes it more reasonable to break a law just because it is difficult to comprehend. If it’s a question of “Have I fulfilled all the requirements?” that’s one thing. However, if it’s “This is too complicated. Screw it. I’m just going to pay a coyote to smuggle me across the border.” that’s another and I don’t buy it. I spent a couple years in Ecuador and have talked with both good and bad people who have hopped on banana ships to be smuggled into the U.S. In the majority of cases it wasn’t because they had exhausted their resources in their efforts to become legal citizens, it was because it was the cheapest, easiest, fastest way.

Regarding my “very extreme hypothetical situation and very loose assumption” regarding other laws being challenged because people start to think it’s someone else’s fault and not their own, I don’t think it’s very hypothetical or loose at all. We’re seeing it all over the news these days. Liebeck sues McDonald’s because she spilled hot coffee on herself. Ignacio Ramos gets charged with 20 years in federal prison because he shoots an illegal alien smuggling 800 lbs. of marijuana. A group of overweight people sue McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC for making them fat. It’s not our fault, it’s someone else’s. It’s the general concept that’s taking hold with the latest generation in America and some of the core reasoning behind illegal immigration is just pushing it forward.

Okay, so you took my questions and asked them back. Fair enough. My main point is not to say the cost of deportation = $x and the cost of illegal immigrants smuggling drugs = $x and weighing the difference. Instead, it’s to help illustrate that the cost of deportation brings the benefit of doing away with other costs. So, are you wanting numbers or are you actually questioning their existence? From your comments in parenthesis, it seems like the latter. In any case, I’ll address both without going into a thesis.

U.S. Congressional Budget Office: Illegal immigrants consume almost three times as much in social security services as they are estimated to pay in state and federal taxes (for those that pay taxes) to the tune of $2,300 per worker, as opposed to the $7,700 each consumes, regardless of their tax burden, or lack thereof.

Social Security Administration: Approximately $57.8 billion in 2003, $64 billion in 2004, $73 billion in 2005, and $81.3 billion in 2006 were unresoved, untaxed wages paid out to illegal immigrants.

Want more on the impact of unauthorized immigration on the budgets of state and local government? Feel free to read The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments prepared by the Congressional Budget Office.

With regard to drug smuggling, the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims stated in a meeting on Wednesday, April 23, 1997 that “through other violations of our immigration laws, Mexican drug cartels are able to extend their command and control into the United States. Drug smuggling fosters, subsidizes, and is dependent upon continued illegal immigration and alien smuggling.”

And violence? A “confidential” California Department of Justice study reported that 60 percent of the 18th Street Gang (20,000 members) is illegal. Police say the proportion is actually much greater. Law enforcment officials estimate that 20% of gang members in San Diego County are illegal. The L.A. County Sheriff reported that 23% of inmates were deportable. And the list goes on in this testimony by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims.

This should give you a start to conduct your own research. If you have or find legitimate research you think is worthy of discussion, please feel free to post.

05.29.2009 / Bush said:

I am English but stumbled acroos your blog looking for Flex cert info. Your comment as follows

“Aren’t we all immigrants? Yes, we are all immigrants–and so is everyone else in most every other country. The difference is that those coming from New England or the whereabouts were legal immigrants at the time and subsequently created the laws of immigration. If other countries decide to assume similar laws of immigration so that I must go through a process to become a citizen of their country, I believe it is their right and I will abide by it…even if I really, really wanted to go to that country.”

Does not really speak to the truth does it. I am amused that you say the pilgrims were legal immigrants at the time. No they were not they stole the land from the Native Americans.

I do however agree that u guys should sort out the immigration issues and can understand the other points you rise.

05.29.2009 / Aaron Hardy said:

Thanks for stopping by. I don’t think stealing the land from the Indians was about immigration as much as it was about war. If another country’s citizens were attempting to come in, kick us out, then call the country their own, I wouldn’t call it immigration; I’d call it an overthrow of power or, in other words, war. Did the colonists want to become part of the Indian sovereignty? Did the Indians have an immigration law/process outlining how one could or could not become part of the Indian sovereignty? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then I stand corrected and the pre-Americans were indeed illegal immigrants. Otherwise, pre-Americans would probably be better classified as enemies than illegal immigrants.


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