My best friend and I have known each other for almost 20 years. One of the things I value most about our friendship is our mutual gift: if I don’t understand something, I just have to wait for him to explain it to me. At least half the time, I’ll answer him, and find myself listening to myself and learning the answer as I’m explaining it.
He’s a semi-regular reader of Wizbang, and occasional commenter. Recently, though, when we were talking, he noted that one of my hot-button topics is illegal aliens. He asked me why I gave it so much attention.
I’d often wondered that myself, and when he asked me, I had to answer. And it came down to two points.
The first one is quite simple. The United States has an extremely liberal immigration policy — quite possibly the most liberal in the world. We admit over a million people a year. And while the process is not easy, it has to be one of the easiest in the world.
Every year a million people who have followed all the rules enter the United States legally, welcomed with open arms.
And every year countless more come here illegally, or under false pretenses, or stay longer than they agreed to.
These people, for whatever reason, hold themselves as above those rules. They consider their own circumstances as more important than others, and they don’t need to bother with following the procedures that everyone else has to.
They’re line-cutters. They’re cheats. I don’t like people who do that in daily life; those that do that are spitting in the faces of all those who are following the laws and coming here legally and properly, and on their behalf I am angered.
The other reason is based purely on Constitutional principle.
One of the standard defenses for illegal immigration is that the aliens are performing the work Americans don’t want to do, that our economy needs the cheap, unskilled labor they provide to keep going. They warn that if every single illegal alien were to disappear tomorrow, our entire way of life would be severely affected — especially in areas like agriculture, construction, and cleaning services.
That argument always bothered me, and for the longest time I didn’t understand why. But the instant my friend asked me about it, it became crystal clear:
The economic argument is nothing new. In fact, it’s very, very old. So old, that we’ve alreadye debated and settled it almost 150 years ago — and the pro-cheap-labor side lost.
You might recall reading about it, It was called the Civil War.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a stretch. For one, there were other issues besides slavery involved in the war. For another, indentured servitude might be a better comparison to illegal alien labor than actual slavery. But the essence remains the same — the notion is that a cheap source of labor is being exploited and used through fear of the power of law. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong today.
In my dream world, I’d like to see the restrictions and red tape on immigration reduced to a more manageable system. But that would have to be coupled with an assault on illegal immigration. Streamlined deportation processes. Severe penalties for those who exploit illegal aliens. And, perhaps, even a change to the rules of citizenship, so children born here of illegal aliens have the citizenship of their parent’s homeland, not the United States, ending the exploitation of children as “anchor babies.”
We have a lot of good laws on the books about illegal aliens. But we need to start enforcing them. Laws that are unenforced merely cheapen respect for all other laws, and that’s a nice start towards anarchy.