One of the most serious and contentious issues facing the United States today is border security. The issue is a perfect example of how an incremental abandonment of the law leads to a situation from which there are but two exits, and both are bad. There is no way to end the contention surrounding immigration and the borders that does not risk terrible injustice and open the door to fraud and unsurvivable financial burdens. We will pay a terrible price for whatever we do, including doing nothing. The problem should have been handled years ago, but it wasn’t. We are now like a patient who has ignored an infection until it has become gangrenous. Our options are not pleasant, but it is utterly inescapable that we must choose one or the other.
Living in a border state, New Mexico, I might have a unique perspective on the matter, so I thought it would be fun to lay down some hard, cold facts. I will use a number that may or may not be factual: twenty million – 20,000,000 – 20 times ten to the sixth power. That’s a potful in any idiom. The reason it may not be factual is because of the FACT that nobody knows for sure. It’s a round number and I’ll use it. Y’all can use whatever number you want, but I’ll kiss your foot if the real number is lower than 20 million.
I will take issue with Cliven Bundy on one point. He said Mexican immigrants are hardworking, honest taxpayers. There is no doubt that a great may are – perhaps a majority – but I know for a FACT that a great many are none of those things. I have some rentals in a predominantly Hispanic part of town. The last time I had a vacancy, 27 people came to look at the apartment. 24 of them were on Social Security or 100% disability. Only two said they had jobs. 21 of them spoke no English. It’s illegal for me to ask for green cards, so it’s possible that not all of these folks were illegals. I think (it’s been a while) that three of them wanted to move 8 or more adults into a 900 sq. ft., two bedroom apartment, including one very hard-looking couple in their 50’s who said they wanted the place for their daughters. The daughters were in their late teens, very provocatively dressed, with downcast eyes and no smiles on their faces. They were hookers, and quite likely slaves. For the record, the person to whom I eventually rented was a young, Hispanic woman with two little girls. She has been a model tenant, and I wish I had more like her.
The point of that story is that a sizeable percentage of the illegal aliens (No way I’ll call them “immigrants!”) are living off the public teat, and are participating in criminal activities. Here are a few more points: (1) It is illegal for me, a landlord, to ask for proof of citizenship. In some states, it is illegal for employers to ask for proof of citizenship. (2) As the number of illegal aliens in our population increases, it becomes more and more reasonable to wonder if any person we meet is an illegal alien.
There is a good deal of support for the idea of deporting all illegals, and while I don’t disagree with the principle, I must look at how that would be done. First of all, how do we identify illegals? They don’t have tattoos or tails. In fact, they look a lot like “regular” Americans. I’d ask how, exactly, would we go about telling a Mexican illegal from my pal, Carlos, whose family has been in Nuevo Mexico since before the American Revolution? (For the record, Carlos served with me in the Marines, and if you want a scrap, just go messing with my brother.) Do you plan on just driving down the street in a truck and snatching up anyone who looks like a Mexican? What in the world do you think a Mexican looks like? They come in as great a variety as native-born Americans. The point here is that we must be very careful in who we deport. In fact, there must be some sort of legal process because most of those people have the sense to deny being illegal!
“Legal process” opens up a whole barrel of worms. First, there must be standards of evidence, and because of the smokin’ hot market in false IDs, and states like mine that have been giving driver’s licenses to illegals for years, such standards will not be self-evident. Think about it. If someone grabbed you off the street tomorrow on your way to work and accused you of being illegal, how would you prove your citizenship? Your driver’s license and social security card are worthless. Even if you drive around with your birth certificate, that would have to be validated by the state or the hospital, which would take time and resources. Utility bills and school records would have to be validated.
Resources. Wow. Consider this. For every person who denies being in the US illegally, there must be a law enforcement officer to take them into custody and question them. There must be a place to incarcerate them while waiting for trial. There must be standards and a process for evaluating the evidence, and if someone says they went to school in a different state, the feds will have to be involved. What if they say they were born to American parents in a foreign country, but their parents are dead? Now we are looking at the gathering and verification of information on a global scale. There must be a standard for bail and a whole staff of clerks to administer it. There must be a judge to hear the evidence. There must be a prosecuting attorney and a defense attorney. There must be an appeal process. Finally, there must be a way of getting the person out of the country and a record of all that has gone into the process so we can tell if they come back.
“…if they come back.” Wow, again. What if we spend the millions of dollars required for months or even years of legal wrangling, kick the guy out, and a week later, he’s back? If we don’t have a means of identifying him positively, we have to go through the same stinkin’ mess again! Another implication of this is that, even if a person admits to being here illegally, the odds are they’ll be back within a month. That means that even if we don’t have that whole nightmare of legal process, we must still maintain a data base of accurate, verifiable records of who we kick out and when. Just looking at this one, piddly little detail, how long will it take to photograph and fingerprint 20 million clever, committed scammers? How much will it cost to maintain the data base and keep it secure? “…keep it secure?” Of course! Don’t you suppose there might be a little profit for some enterprising clerk to delete or alter records in the data base? Hell’s fire, we can’t even keep matters of national security safe!
Are you starting to get the picture? Even if we clamp down on the border right now and allow no new trespass, it will take decades and cost trillions of dollars to get all the illegals out of the country, by which time there will be tens of millions of babies born to them, which is a whole ‘nother bucket of worms.
There is simply no way we can deport all these people. I, as much as anyone, like the idea, but the practical aspect of doing so is utterly inconceivable. We have gotten ourselves into a situation from which there is no easy way out. There’s a bad way, a terrible way, and an even worse way.
The first thing we must do is close the borders and ports. If we don’t do that, nothing else matters because nothing will work. They will continue to flood and overwhelm any system we put in place. The present administration lacks the desire and the will to close the borders. It may be up to the states, but we must recognize the fact that state action will be regarded as tantamount to nullification and secession, and the last time that was tried, it got pretty expensive. I’m not saying it can’t or shouldn’t be done; we just need to be very sure that’s what we want and that we’re willing to pay the price.
I must emphasize this: if the influx of illegal aliens is not stopped, or at least slowed tremendously, the entire discussion is pointless.
Having said all that depressing stuff, I’d like to go into a few things we can do. First, closing the border will make a lot of these folks very homesick, and they’ll leave on their own.
Second, we can block all transfer of funds to foreign banks by unlicensed individuals. Such transfers are already licensed for businesses, so the mechanism for this is already in place. When the tens of millions of dollars stop flowing from illegals in the US to their kinfolk elsewhere, a lot of the magic will be gone, and some more of them will go back to mama and papa.
Third, as these people enter the legal system for other crimes, we can verify their immigration status and deport those found to be here illegally. That’s another good chunk of them gone. (I’d like to go on record as suggesting the death penalty for anyone convicted of slave trading. They call it “human trafficking,” but that’s a cleaner, less odiferous term. They’re damnable slavers, and a bullet in the head is too good for them.)
Fourth, amend the law that allows anchor babies. We can do that, and it would immediately remove a huge incentive for them to come here. It would also limit the natural increase of the illegal population. Here’s a comparison: if a mom – any mom – is sentenced to prison for a crime, somebody else raises her babies. That’s just a fact of life. By the same principle, if a mom’s crime happens to be illegal trespass into the US, when she is removed from the free population, she can expect to lose her children. Now, I’d give her a choice, but if she wants her kid to be an American citizen, that’s well and good, but it doesn’t keep her in the country. I’m sure there are plenty of childless Americans who would love to adopt such babies. This is going to be hard to do, but no harder, I think, that sending an American-born mom to prison and watching her say goodbye to her babies. Illegal alien moms should expect no more.
Fifth, make welfare, food stamps, social security, and driver’s licenses 100% dependent on citizenship. It boggles my mind that this is not already the case. When I applied for a minimum wage job with Walmart, I had to show two forms of ID to prove my eligibility to work in the US. It’s called an I-9 form. Of course, two of the forms of ID specified, driver’s license and a social security card, are totally useless for proving anything. I had to prove citizenship to get the job, but I didn’t have to prove citizenship to get the documents that proved citizenship. Am I missing something, or this stark, raving, batshit crazy? It’s not likely we can eliminate all fraud in these relief programs. However, tightening the controls as much as we can, making it clear that we don’t bloody appreciate fraud, and that we condemn it and will punish it where we can will create a hostile environment from which another group of illegals will flee.
Another note on item 5: anytime we ask for proof of anything we must expect two things: fraud and challenge. We will have to reform and strengthen the legal system presently in place to deal with challenges and adjudicate cases of fraud. That will be expensive, but absolutely necessary if we are to minimize the chance of denying relief to someone who has earned it. The alternative is to throw up our hands, swing open the doors of the treasury, and walk away. I do not consider such a course acceptable.
There has been talk for years about arresting those who hire or rent housing to illegals. Such laws, in many variations, have been on the books in several states for years. Some of the cases tried under these laws have been pretty straightforward: an employer has a verifiable record of hiring illegals, and there is incontrovertible evidence of willful violation of the law. I’m not intimately familiar with any of these laws, but it seems likely to me that most of them have some virtue. However, as solutions to the problem they suffer serious limitations. How is an employer to determine citizenship when courts find it incredibly expensive and time-consuming to do so? We have seen that courts, which are specifically established and empowered to determine citizenship can spend millions of dollars and years of time on a single case. How can we expect a business to answer the same question to the same degree of accuracy on hundreds or thousands of applicants?
The same is true of landlords. Not only do I lack the resources to determine the status of prospective renters, but most of the information I would need to make such determination is sealed to me! I’m not even allowed to ask for a green card, and even if I were, how in hell am I supposed to tell if it’s legitimate? Yet, under some of these immigration laws, I could go to jail for failing to spend all I will ever own to make sure this one dipstick isn’t pulling my leg. That isn’t right, either. We need to make it financially survivable and actually legal to obey the law. (There’s another insanity: it’s illegal to obey the law.)
I said we need to find a form of amnesty that is survivable to our republic. Unfortunately, anything short of total, blanket, no-questions-asked amnesty will be staggeringly expensive. We’re back to the gangrene analogy. I think military service should be a ticket into the citizenship process. As an alternative, a period of public service should be favorably considered, though secondary to military service. Provable participation in American society – as in working for a living and paying taxes – for some period of time might be considered. One of the more preposterous ideas put forth by the feds is that of granting citizenship to anyone who completes a college education. Under that particular law, that education would be paid for by the American taxpayers, many of whom can’t afford to send their own kids to college. Not only that, but before we could pay the tuition, we’d have to know for a fact they are here illegally, and if we know that, why in blazes can’t we escort them to the bloody border? (And, of course, there’s absolutely zero chance for fraud or graft in such a scheme. Gasp…. Choke…)
If we could give illegals the choice of applying for citizenship or getting out, it would definitely thin the herd because a lot of them have no desire to become American citizens. But how could such a thing be enforced? We’d have to know who the illegals are, and we’re right back to rounding them up off the street. It just isn’t possible. In fact, that is the problem with any sort of conditional amnesty. How do we even know to whom we have granted amnesty?
There is one more legal issue we’ll have to resolve. The Constitution specifically forbids ex post facto enforcement of any law. In other words, if something is legal when you do it, they can’t change the law and come after you for it. (Notwithstanding the fact that the IRS and BATF are famous for changing the law and busting people for doing things that were legal when they did them.) Given that 20 million people have basically been given a pass and told the law didn’t apply to them, we will have to be careful that whatever new laws we write do not involve ex post facto enforcement. Nailing them for violations of the current law should be pretty straightforward, but, like with everything else in this mess, there will undoubtedly be challenges to the laws.
One last thing I’d love to see: I want the border between the District of Columbia and the United States closed down completely. I want those amoral, looting scumbags who have put us in this position to have to beg for readmittance to the country. Unfortunately, a lot of the ones most responsible are dead, and I don’t know how we’d handle that. We might have to grant them amnesty.
26 April, 2014