Why We Need Amnesty
Yesterday, I wrote about the illegal immigration crisis, and how to solve the problem. Washington must work to pass laws which mandate stiff penalties for hiring illegal aliens; penalties stiff enough that the dangers of employing illegals outweighs the benefits. Only if we remove the incentives that draw them will illegal immigrants cease coming to the United States.
Good ideas, I think, as far as they go, but you might have noticed I forgot one very important detail: what to do with the illegal immigrants already here. It’s obviously impossible to deport them all—a really big raid can round up around five hundred illegals, and there are over twelve million already living here. And cracking down on employers wouldn’t solve the problem either—many of these aliens have lived in the United States for years, and would probably accept the newly difficult working conditions in order to continue doing so. They aren’t leaving.
What can we do? In my mind, there is only one realistic answer; one that I doubt will make me very popular with my fellow conservatives. It isn’t a good answer, but then, there are no good answers. We need amnesty.
Not the comprehensive amnesty that John McCain and Ted Kennedy advocated last spring, but some form of amnesty for some illegal aliens is essential to solving the problem.
But won’t amnesty instantly result in twelve million new residents? No, not if the government is careful about which immigrants they legalize. Immigrants wanting amnesty should have no criminal record, pay a fine, pay back taxes, and most importantly, be able to establish that they have resided in the United States for at least five years. (The last requirement alone will weed out many illegal aliens—many, perhaps most, only live in the U.S. for a few years to earn some money before moving back to Mexico). This would allow the most “Americanized” of the illegals to reside here legally, while letting federal immigration authorities concentrate on a much smaller group of illegals.
Some believe that that would jeopardize our national security by allowing closet Al-Qaeda operatives to become legal residents. This line of thought ignores the fact that the northern border is even less guarded than the Mexico-American one, and any Islamic terrorists entering the country would probably rather enter though a prosperous country with a multitude of friendly radical mosques rather than a poor country with no Islamic community. Besides which, the 9/11 hijackers got into the country illegally without sneaking across a border.
Others would object that amnesty would attract more illegal aliens—and they would be right. It isn’t a good answer—but there are no good answers to this question. If the federal government implements an amnesty program, it must crack down on employers who hire illegals aliens, using laws as draconian as necessary to end this practice. If this is not done, then another massive wave of illegal immigration will sweep the country, rendering any immigration reform futile.
Most conservatives probably oppose my idea. Fine. But before attacking it, tell me how you would go about the task of persuading twelve million people to leave the country, without allowing at least some them to stay. I doubt it could be done—many, probably most, would remain here illegally, which would simply be a less controlled form of amnesty.
I’m not sure how any conservatives reading this will react. A few members of the conservative blogosphere support amnesty, but only a very few. Say, six. I’m sure some commenters will just try to ignore this post as a bit of an embarrassment to me, while others will vociferously disagree. I can’t expect to change many minds on this issue. However, I do hope that what I write here will at least make people reflect on their position on this issue, and become aware of the arguments in favor of amnesty.