Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yeah About That Dream Act...

Do you remember all the rhetoric over the Dream Act?
When the President decided to implement via executive decision what he couldn't get passed by Congress there were a lot of stories about how unfair it was that someone who was brought illegally to the United States as a child and had graduated high school or college faced the possibility of deportation and couldn't find work legally. Tears of compassion were shed and calls for change went up throughout the land. It was estimated in think tank studies, media reports and official/unofficial government statements that roughly about 800,000 illegal immigrants would be eligible under the Dream Act. Congress refused to change the law. President Obama, it being an election year, suddenly decided that he had powers that he had previously denied having and ordered the relevant agencies to cease and desist deportations of people that would have fallen under the Dream Act, had it been passed which it wasn't. Now this is a rather unique sort of approach to the law. Order people to act according to a law which doesn't exist. Fascinating.

Anyway yesterday was the first day that illegal immigrants were eligible to apply for work permits and deferred action status under this new "law" which was not passed by Congress and doesn't exist. Of course now that they have what they want the details of the new policy turn out not quite to be what either the President or the advocates for illegal residence in the United States had told everyone they were. Instead of 800,000 people being eligible, the new estimate is 1.7 million!!. That's right, over twice the initial widely reported number. And it's not going to be only high school or college graduates who are all going to build the next Facebook or Microsoft, that is if they didn't have to worry about those pesky ICE agents. Nah. The new policy includes not only the people with degrees or who graduated high school but those people who are working towards a GED, people that aren't working towards a GED but will be at some time in the future or people who aren't even in high school yet but may be eligible for this deferred action status at some distant yet to be determined time.

 In short dropouts, middle school kids, heck just about EVERYBODY will be eligible. It's a rolling amnesty. If you are an illegal immigrant and don't fit the deferred action criteria, don't sweat it. Just wait until you do. After all the Administration has already announced that short of committing a felony, they aren't going to even pretend to try to deport you. ICE has more important things to do than deport illegal immigrants, like allegedly running a female frat house and sexually harassing male workers.

The MPI estimates are up from the 1.39 million figure provided on June 15 —reflecting the updated DHS guidelines that youth lacking a high school or GED degree would be eligible to apply for deferred action as long as they have re-enrolled by the date of their application.
While USCIS will only accept applications for the DACA initiative from applicants 15 and older, the deferred action policy also will apply to qualified unauthorized immigrants —regardless of whether they are older or younger than 15 — who are already in removal proceedings or might be in the custody of immigration officials in the future

As you may remember I opposed the Dream Act and I oppose this deferred action policy, which is the Dream Act in all but name. Why? Because this is MY country. It's not a country for illegal immigrants. If you want to be an American, either be born here or get permission from the people living here. Now this is usually where someone talks about the Native Americans and thinks that ends the conversation. It really shows how important it is to maintain a strict immigration policy. Show me a country existing today that has the exact same ethnic mix and form of government that it did 500 years ago. Those are rare. Things change. What was done to the Native Americans was wrong. It can't be undone. That has absolutely nothing to do with immigration policy in the 21st century. Maybe you want to argue that America has no right to exist and should be dismantled. I don't see things that way. Other countries, including some that are exporting millions of illegal immigrants into the US have the same history of European conquest, displacement, rape, enslavement and settlement that the US has. The Mexicans weren't exactly best friends with the Comanche or Apache.  No country is quiet about millions of foreigners moving in without permission. Just about every group of people on the planet at some level have a "this is mine" relationship to the patch of earth they call home. Most of us are no longer nomadic hunter gatherers or herdsmen.

I see the country as my house. I have a nice house. There are millions of homes that are much nicer and larger and millions that are not as nice but this one is mine. The only people that are allowed in my house are people that I want there. And if I decide that I don't want them there any longer, they have to leave. My basement is larger than some people's homes, as I am sure some people's basements are larger than my entire home. Does that give someone a little less fortunate the right to enter and stay in my basement, on the grounds that it looks to them like I'm not using it anyway? Even if they cleaned things up and lived quietly I wouldn't like it. And if they catch an attitude about how I run my house and agitate to invite more of their friends in I would like it even less. 
Is it fair that I have a nicer house than some people? Is it fair that every day I see the same bum on the expressway exit begging for a handout? Do I owe that person anything? Do I owe him my house? Nope. I don't owe him anything.

Similarly it is unfortunate that Mexico and large portions of Central America are apparently relatively unpleasant places to live and that so many residents there would evidently prefer to live somewhere nicer. But that doesn't give them any right to move to the US without permission and stay. And I feel the same way about people outside of the US regardless of where they came from. If you come here legally then I will call you an American and welcome you as a countryman. Otherwise, please go home. Race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion or any other characteristic is immaterial to me in this matter. I understand why someone would want to move to the US. I sympathize. But I also would like a new 2013 Bentley. It doesn't mean anyone owes me one.

As we have discussed before no one begrudges the executive branch the right to gently stretch the law or use discretion in what cases it takes up. Although I am rarely fortunate enough to get off with just a warning I understand that police do not stop every speeder nor do they issue tickets to everyone they stop. A kid caught shoplifting may get a scary lecture in the back office instead of a juvenile record. A man who beats up his jerk brother-in-law for hurting his sister might get a wink and a nod from the prosecutor and lowered charges. I get all that. That doesn't bother me.

That's not what is happening here.

If a local police chief were to suddenly announce that going forward his department would no longer enforce speed laws that's a problem. Or to put it in even more relevant terms should Mitt Romney become President he will want to lower taxes. He probably won't get that through the Senate. Let's say that a frustrated President Romney announced that since Congress wouldn't act he had to. If a President Romney were to direct the IRS and Treasury not to investigate or prosecute anyone who refused to pay capital gains or estate taxes, would you think that a good idea? Or would you rage at an arrogant princeps taking the law into his own hands?

There is a difference between discretion and dismissal. And this executive Dream Act crosses that line.  ICE Agents face suspension for arresting illegal immigrants-even though that is the law of the land. As you might expect the ICE union is not very happy about this. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, fresh from her general loss in the Supreme Court announced that Arizona would not be issuing driver's licenses to anyone allowed in under the new policy. For now at least states still have the right to do that. For now... 

What's your take?

Is this something that is long overdue and compassionate?

If you like the country as it is are you a bad person?

Do you think the economy will be better off with millions more workers?

What is the solution to the problem of illegal immigration?
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