12 June 2007

“Support this bill or you’re a racist.”

Apparently that’s our only choice when it comes to immigration reform. Of course, it amounts to no choice.

S.1348, Title VI, sec. 601(h)(2) provides: “No probationary benefits shall be issued to an alien until the alien has passed all appropriate background checks or the end of the next business day, whichever is sooner.” It just cannot make me a racist that I don’t favor a bill which says that an immigrant (one who presently is here illegally in the first place) gets a benefit after a full background check or a single business day, whichever comes first. It is not racist (a) to claim that the bill contains that provision (i.e., because it really contains that provision) or (b) to oppose the entire bill if it contains that single provision, unless the provision is removed, which to my knowledge has not happened. I don’t think it unreasonable, or racist, to think a complete background check ought to be done, and to believe it ought to take more than a single business day.

I know: Complete background checks on 12 million people could take a long, long time. Golly gee, I guess we should have done a job (note, I didn’t say better job) of enforcing the border and not allowing those 12 million people here in the first place. If the fed now finds it difficult to fix the problem they have only their own laxity to blame. As the Spirit of Christmas Past said to Ebenezer Scrooge: “That these things are as they are do not blame me.”

Other passages of the bill provide for a mix of real fences and “virtual fences” and other forms of border “enforcement”. Not only that, the amount of fence – real or otherwise – which has to be built before one of those famous triggers gets pulled isn’t sufficient either. It just cannot make me a racist that I don’t favor a bill which considers the aforementioned elements a sufficient repair of a porous border. A porous border amounts to no border.

The 12 million figure represents around 572,000 people entering the country illegally over the last 21 years. That’s without a fence. 572,000. Each year. For twenty-one years. Half a million people crossed our southern border each year for twenty-one years. That is no border. Being sceptical that the provisions of the present bill really fix that problem hardly makes one a racist.

Do we have more illegal “white” immigrants than we do “brown” immigrants? Not the last time I checked. The racist charge might have some standing if we had 24 million illegal “white” immigrants, but only 12 million illegal “brown” immigrants, and no one were bothered by the illegal “white” immigrants. That is not the case. It is not that the immigrants are “brown” rather than “white”. It’s that they are illegal. It’s the numbers, stupid.

I was twenty-one years old when the 1986 amnesty bill became law. I was in favor of that bill. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But that law was supposed to be amnesty for those already here and border enforcement. In 1986 there were 3 million illegals here. Now there are 12 million. The amnesty seems to have worked out well enough. Border enforcement? Not so well.

Some of us (
Hugh Hewitt, for example, and they are worth reading) have specific recommendations about how the bill could be written or amended which would make it palatable to us. It is to me quite telling that supporters of the bill can offer little more than, “You’re a racist and a nativist” as a response. Telling. In fact what it tells us is that our characterizations of the bill are correct (which means that we aren’t racists and nativists) and that supporters have no other response and no merits to argue. Clearly, they have nothing to overcome our objections and criticisms.

In a country which gives at least lip service to the notion that although we are not a Christian nation we are a nation which has derived much of our political life-blood to the Judeo-Christian worldview it would be well for us to recall the prohibition of “bearing false witness” against our fellow men (Exodus 20.16). Bearing false witness is more than just telling lies. It is bringing a charge against someone and offering testimony in support of the charge. If you’re going to assert that someone is a racist then you should be expected to prove it. And it is not sufficient, as evidence of racism, that someone disagrees with your policy position, or asserts that a bill you support contains objectionable provisions (such as, e.g., the above-mentioned section 601(h)(2)).

Section 601(h)(2) says what we assert it says, or it does not. Supporters of the bill have only (and it isn’t too much to ask) to argue that section 601(h)(2) says other than we have claimed, or that the provision is truly reasonable and is truly consistent with the proposition that nation-states have a right to their borders, a right to say who gets in, a right to check the credentials of those wishing to gain entrance, and a right to mete out punitive measures against those who gain entry unlawfully.

Let me be intellectually honest (unlike those who can only call their opponents racists): It will be difficult, if not impossible, to convince me that the provision for background checks contained in section 601(h)(2) is reasonable. Also, this provision is for me a deal breaker. So is the fence issue. I will be much more amenable if these two elements, in addition to those identified by Hewitt, above, are corrected.

Furthermore, I object to one of the bill's apparently larger purpose, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. It seems to me that had they been interested in citizenship they'd have come here legally, unless they came here believing that one day amnesty, or the next best thing, would be offered to them. It also occurs to me that a path to citizenship is pointless, given what we have been told. We have been told that we need them to do jobs that "Americans" won't do. We have been told that they come here only to work those jobs and send the money back -- remember this -- home. Why would they have the least bit of interest in a path to citizenship.

I will also admit this: I'm likely to prefer this bill, such as it is, to any bill arising in a Democrat dominated House and Senate, alongside a Democrat in the executive. But that is precisely why I would like to see the bill amended.


About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
View my complete profile

Blog Archive