NYP - THE AMNESTY FRAUD
New York Post
THE AMNESTY FRAUD
By THOMAS SOWELL
May 22, 2007 -- NOTHING is more common than political "solutions" to immediate problems, which create much bigger problems down the road. The current immigration bill in the Senate is a classic example.
The big talking point of those who want to legalize the illegal aliens now in America is to say that it's "unrealistic" to round up and deport 12 million people
The "round up and deport 12 million people" bugaboo is a strawman. No one has proposed this. Not in new legislation, not in existing legislation. Most people would settle for some common-sense enforcement of existing immigration law.
Back in 1986 it was "unrealistic" to round up and deport the 3 million illegals then in the United States. So they were given amnesty - honestly labeled, back then - which is precisely why there are now 12 million illegals.
This is what I call incentivizing unlawful activities. Until there's a stronger disincentive than an incentive, there will be more new violations and violators.
As a result of the current amnesty bill - not honestly labeled, this time - will it be "unrealistic" to round up and deport 40 million or 50 million illegal aliens in the future?
Amnesty is not about how you become a citizen. The word is from the same root as "amnesia." It means you forget or overlook some crime, as if it never happened. All this elaborate talk about the steps illegals must go through to become citizens is a distraction from the crime they committed when they crossed the border illegally.
This is why having violators pay a fine in order to regularize their status isn't a bad idea. I think $5,000 for a family of five is too low, but it's not a bad idea. If it was set higher, or imposed on a per-person basis (parents would be held responsible for paying their children's fines), and the fact that it was a fine was emphasized, it might be a lot more saleable.
I think that a lot of people are disturbed about a "path to citizenship" being made available to illegal immigrants at all. On a very visceral basis it offends people's notion of fairness, of letting lawbreakers (yes, they're civil offenders not criminal offenders, we get that) jump ahead of those who've followed the rules and immigrated (or tried to do so) lawfully. Illegal immigrants who are allowed to regularize/legalize their status need to go to the back of the line as far as receiving any permanent benefits or citizenship, behind those who follow the rules. This is more of that incentivizing lawful behavior that I keep bringing up.
There are undoubtedly thousands, perhaps millions, of unsolved crimes and uncaught criminals in this country and we cannot realistically expect to find and prosecute all these fugitives from justice.
But does anyone suggest that our focus should be on trying to normalize the lives of domestic fugitives from justice - "bring them out of the shadows" in Ted Kennedy's phrase - and develop some path by which they can be given an acceptable legal status?
Just as we don't need to solve every crime and catch every criminal in order to have deterrents to crime, neither do we have to ferret out and deport every one of the 12 million illegal aliens in this country in order to deter a flood of new illegals.
Imprisoning known and apprehended lawbreakers for the crime of illegally entering this country, in addition to whatever other punishment they receive for other laws that they have broken - and then sending them back where they came from after their sentences have been served - would be something that would not be lost on others who are here illegally or who are thinking of coming here illegally.
It should also be a no-brainer to deport lawbreakers who are in the country illegally. You have to be either a congressman or an immigration lawyer not to get this.
Just as people can do many things better for themselves than the government can do those things for them, illegal aliens could begin deporting themselves if they found that their crime of coming here illegally was being punished as a serious crime, and that they themselves were no longer being treated as guests of the taxpayers when it comes to their medical care, the education of their children and other wel- fare-state benefits.
Mr. Sowell is economist. He gets the incentives/disincentives thing, even if he doesn't call it that.
Incidentally, remember that 700-mile fence that Congress authorized last year? Only two miles have been built. That should tell us something about how seriously they are going to enforce other border-security provisions in the current bill.