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Beyond DACA.

September 6, 2017

And so it is done.  Someone has finally thrown the failed immigration policies of the last 31 years back into the congressional ballpark.

That doesn’t give most people much confidence, given that sound bites from Congress immediately called for the President to “tell them what he wants.”


We simply deserve so much more from our elected representatives than the constant buck-passing, crocodile-tear gushing, self-serving excuses and accusations of racism we are getting for our money now.

The so-called Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, or Simpson-Mazzoli Act, also popularly known  as the Reagan Amnesty Act was an attempt to confront exactly the same problem we face today. The timeline and text can be found here.

The 1986 legislation sought to shut off the ability of employers to utilize illegal immigrants and thus was hoped to remove the attraction for immigrants to cross the border illegally or to slide into the shadows to avoid returning when their temporary permissions expired.

Yet now in 2017, e-verify, introduced 10 years ago, is still not a mandatory nationwide requirement. Some sources even say it isn’t operationally accurate enough to even consistently identify an illegal immigrant. California prohibits its use except under very narrow guidelines.

Fast forward to 2017, and the focus is on an estimated 800,000 involuntary illegal immigrants brought to the States as minor children, although the exact number is unknown. That’s just a fraction of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants here now.

Now, as then the focus is on a narrow population dynamic, rather than the larger question of immigration as a whole.

It only took five minutes of listening to the White House Press Secretary’s briefing yesterday to know how this is going to go in the media.

President Trump is the devil incarnate, solely responsible for all the ills that beset the nation’s  undocumented, i.e. illegal immigrant population.

Unfortunately no matter how you label it,  there is that one adjective in the way. Illegal, as in not conforming to the codified laws of the United States.

Likewise for the DACA Obama presidential memo itself. Even the Supreme Court has punted on the issue of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival proclamation, primarily because there is no law upon which to rule.

There is another side to this argument.

While it is probably true that the DACA “kids” did not commit an illegal act of their own volition, some sort of similar extenuating circumstance could probably be found to cover a good 90% of everyone from any country who has ignored our laws and borders to gain entrance to and maintain residence in the country.

Believe it or not, no matter how compassionate their hearts, there are people who take exception to ignoring the law instead of changing it.

They ask this question. Would you be OK with a stranger entering your house, eating your food, driving your car, and sleeping with your spouse just because that stranger didn’t know at the time that it was wrong?

When you think of it in that context, it puts a very different spin on the issue.

While it isn’t codified, you could call the current state of immigration the law of compassionate entry, where borders do not exist and the simple fact of not liking where you live now is reason enough for the United States to accept you.

The central question has remained the same for generations.  Does the United States have the right to control its borders and designate what type and numbers of  immigrants it will accept?

The left says no. The right and most of the middle says yes. That is the central argument, not which of the illegal immigrants is more deserving than the others.

Congress can answer that question, assuming it wants to do so. After all, it can come to a bipartisan agreement on self-driving cars, so apparently it still knows how this is done.

Whether it will do so in the case of immigration will largely depend on which faction has the loudest voice, or more accurately,  the deepest pockets. In the case of HR 3388 referenced above, the impetus is backed by the cash-heavy auto and tech industries.

The DACA group can and should have a voice in the discussion, but theirs should not be the only voice, much less the only face.

This will take some compromise. The far right will have to accept that we might legalize anyone without a criminal record who is not gaming the system and fits the DACA demographic, and the far left will have to accept that the government has a legal obligation to control its borders as it sees fit, including requiring immigrants to meet certain criteria other than mode of entry.

Democrats are wasting time condemning the end of DACA as “unspeakable cruelty” instead of dealing with the problem.

Republicans are just trying to figure out how to get eight months worth of work done in 11 days.

That ought to make for interesting conversation for the next six months.

From → op-ed

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