Friday, June 29, 2007

Amnesty postmortem

Short, sweet, and to the point from Instapundit:
My advice for next time:

(1) Make the process open, transparent, and timely, with hearings, drafts on the Internet, and no last-minute bills that no one has read;

(2) Earn people's trust, don't demand it, and treat enforcement like it matters;

(3) Respect people who follow the law, and make legal immigration easier, cheaper, and simpler, rather than the Kafkaesque nightmare it is now;

(4) Don't feel you have to be "comprehensive" -- address the problems you can deal with first. The trust needed to deal with other problems will come later, after you've shown some success and some good faith.

I would add "(5) Don't impugn the motives of people with serious concerns about enforcement, rewarding bad behavior, etc., by calling them 'bigots' or 'xenophobes'. Listen to their concerns, even if your mind doesn't change." Friendships have been ruined over this debate because of the tone of the dialogue, not because of the mere presence of the disagreement itself.

I want to dwell on point #4 above, though. I've said from the beginning that the "comprehensive", i.e. "all or nothing" approach was stupid. An analogy to illustrate its absurdity:

You're in your home during a tropical storm/hurricane. A hole's in in your roof and ceiling, and water beings pouring in. Your house also needs some other repairs: the carpet in the bedroom is peeling up in the corner, the bathroom closet's doorknob is horribly loose and probably needs replacing, the stopper in the bathtub is missing, and the tile floor in your kitchen is cracking near the stove and fridge.

The sensible approach? Fix the hole in your roof and ceiling NOW to stop the rain from gushing in! For Pete's sake, those other problems can wait! If you try fixing the other problems now without sealing your roof/ceiling, those other problems will be irrelevant, because your house will be so badly water-damaged that the other fixes will have been for naught.

The "comprehensive" approach? "I'm not going to fix the hole in my roof and ceiling until I figure out what to do about the carpet, doorknob, stopper, and tile floor. It's all or nothing!"

But hey, wasn't "border security" party of the, "comprehensive"...package? Sure it was. It was also part of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 in October of last year, which authorized and ordered the building of nearly 900 miles of double-reinforced barriers along major points of criminal immigration entry into the U.S. to be completed no later than April 2008. While there is still roughly ten months left for the completion, our government has thus far completed a whopping...13 miles!

Therefore, our politicians are going to have to forgive us peons for not exactly having the utmost of confidence in their desire/ability to secure the border. It's simple: secure the border, first and foremost, like you said you would do in 1986 and then again in 2006. Cracking down on employers (via an employer verification system) is a fantastic idea, as is fining the violating employers with a fine so stiff that it strips them of any financial incentive to turn a blind eye to criminal immigrants. Deporting illegal aliens who are in jail for other crimes (not just criminal breaking-and-entering into our country) is a no-brainer, which is why many liberal politicians voted that down.

However, until the aforementioned and aforepromised border enforcement is done, don't talk to us about amnesty or "comprehensive" or whatever else.