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Thursday, March 30, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

George Will, writing in WaPo (Guard the Borders — And Face Facts, Too):

Facts, a conservative (John Adams) said, are stubborn things, and regarding immigration, true conservatives take their bearings from facts such as those in the preceding paragraph. Conservatives should want, as the president proposes, a guest worker program to supply what the U.S. economy demands — immigrant labor for entry-level jobs. Conservatives should favor a policy of encouraging unlimited immigration by educated people with math, engineering, technology or science skills that America’s education system is not sufficiently supplying.

And conservatives should favor reducing illegality by putting illegal immigrants on a path out of society’s crevices and into citizenship by paying fines and back taxes and learning English. Faux conservatives absurdly call this price tag on legal status “amnesty.” Actually, it would prevent the emergence of a sullen, simmering subculture of the permanently marginalized, akin to the Arab ghettos in France. The House-passed bill, making it a felony to be in the country illegally, would make 11 million people permanently ineligible for legal status. To what end?

Indeed.

And in regards to the criminalization aspect of the bill–it seems to me that all that would do would be to add yet another level of bureaucratic difficulty to the enforcement of immigration law. If one is committing a felony, oughtn’t one be arrested, arraigned and throw in jail prior to one’s exit from the country?

Surely that would take an already broken process (we can’t adequately process illegal aliens who are caught as it is) and make it more complex. Further, wouldn’t it actually slow down the process of deporting illegals who have been found and arrested? It really makes no sense, aside from tickling the emotions of those who want the Congress to “get tough” on illegal immigrants.

BTW, Will also noted the following, that tends to get lost in the debate:

The president, who has not hoarded his political capital, spent some trying to get the nation to face facts about the bleak future of an unreformed Social Security system. Concerning which: In 1940 there were 42 workers for every retiree; today there are 3.1. By 2030, when all 77 million baby boomers will have left the work force, there will be only 2.2. And that projection assumes net annual immigration, legal and illegal, of 900,000, more than double the 400,000 foreigners who, under the terms of proposed Senate legislation, could come here to work each year.

While there is no doubt that there are serious costs associated with immigrants–legal and illegal, but the degree to which they are a clear net drain is highly debatable. For example, it is oft-said that illegals pay no taxes–this is hardly the case. Those who have falsified Social Security cards pay payroll taxes and even those who operate in cash-only activities pay sales taxes every time they purchase something, and property taxes when they pay the rent.

I note this not to justify their actions, nor to say that everything that exists with illegals immigration is benign–but simply to note that the situation is far more complex than the typical rant on the subject makes it out to be.

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