Sunday, December 04, 2005

An Open Response to Tom Tancredo


The Immigration and Borders debate is finally starting to get going. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get people to engage in debate. Rather, far too many people like to shoot down positive suggestions with real merit, simply because they are not perfect. And because the President, while clearly superior in many elements of his job, is something less than eloquent when he explains his programs and ideas, so I am doing what I can here to eludicidate.

Tom Tancredo, a strong proponent of Immigration but unfortunately not known for giving Dubya any credit for his initiatives, once again failed to see the purpose and value in Bush’s ideas, and essentially played the Democrat’s lackey by shooting at the program before its Congressional debate. While Mr. Tancredo is free to exprses his opinions, I must comment that it is he, and not the President, who has things “exactly backward”.

I will start with the obvious, Mr, Tancredo may be well-educated in many aspects of Immigration, but he gets an ‘F’ in perceiving the difference between a desire for perfection, and a plan that works in the real world. If there is one glaring error Tancredo makes, over and over agin, it is that he disparages President Bush in terms that suggest Bush is unaware of the nature and magnitude of illegal entry into the United States. Given that Bush is a former Governor of Texas, I would contend that his knowledge and experience are actually far superior to Mr. Tancredo’s. This must be considered when weighing why Bush supports one action over another alternative.

Mr. Tancredo makes a series of false statements in his article, which I feel demand a proper response. The statements are here, along with my response:

“But until we have actually demonstrated that we have achieved border security and enforcement of our laws, it is dishonest to propose another amnesty as a solution“

Find a dictionary, Mr. Tancredo. An “amnesty” forgives wrongful and criminal acts of whatever nature and frequency. That is not what the President has suggested. What Bush wants is to separate people who are already here into two groups - those who show they are willing to begin the legitimate process, and those who are not. This reduces the stress on the enforcement measures, and stages the actions to address themost serious threats first. You and your side have yet to propose a functional plan in detail, instead demanding “perfection now”.

“What proponents of true border security have proposed in several bills now before Congress is a comprehensive system of border security that will include a fence, added sensors and cameras, airborne surveillance, and a doubling of Border Patrol manpower. These proposals also include new resources for interior enforcement beyond the border region, including vigorous enforcement of our labor laws.”

If you had bothered to pay attention to the President, Mr. Tancredo, you would have observed that the President’s plan does almost all of those things alreasy, and beyond that establishes liason between law enforcement and the Intelligence Community to address border concerns directly.

“If we follow the president's plan and authorize a new amnesty for another 10 million people who came across our borders illegally, it will only encourage the next wave of illegal aliens on the hope and expectation that they, too, will eventually be granted amnesty. That has been the sorry history of the last 30 years, and it is time to call a halt to that nonsense.”

That sir, is a lie. In the first place, no one is suggesting we simply let in “another 10 million people” illegally, and I should also note that the “last 30 years”, while problematic, has hardly been a showcase of Congress or the President trying to protect the illegals, but unfortunately necessary corrections have failed, because various groups and high-profile names have refused to support anything that was not both a perfect answer, and their own proposal. I contend, Mister Tancredo, that attitudes such as yours are not only adding nothing to the solution, you are distinctly prolonging and worsening the problem, because no one is ever good enough by your lights.

“The president's temporary worker proposal is also lacking in realism. He asks Americans to believe that after six years on a temporary worker visa, these workers will go home voluntarily. Who believes that? Citizens in Europe can tell you that there is nothing more permanent than a temporary worker.”

More evidence that you have not paid attention to how this will actually work. Rather than, say, the French method of issuing a residency card and forgetting about the alien, hoping for the best, this plan registers individuals with a series of identification measures designed to make their location and (if necessary) capture more feasible. Bearing in mind these are people who are already in the country and would have to come forward of their own volition, this does not increase illegal entry by even a single person, but identifies a key demographic within the community - individuals who are willing to become legitimate, given the chance. This is critically important for two reasons - first off, every person already in the country who demonstrates a desire to begin abiding by the law must be encouraged to do so. Providing a way for someone to work here temporarily then leave or begin the formal application for permanent residency or citizenship, is always going to be better than reinforcing the status quo of unknown numbers in unknown places, with no incentive for cooperation. Also, the worst illegals, the career criminals, the coyotes who traffic in smuggling of humans, drugs, and various contraband, and potential cells for terrorists, are known to hide in communities of illegal aliens. If even one person in that community begins to cooperate with law enforcement, that community is denied the criminal element, and it becomes easier to find and intercept that element. I have never yet heard how you intend for DHS to capture illegal alien criminals already in the United States, Mister Tancredo, so in my book you are out of line for trashing a feasible plan for addressing the greatest threat, when you have none of your own.

“Another red herring is that the only alternative to amnesty is to have a mass deportation of 10 million people. That is nonsense. All we have to do is to begin enforcing our laws and establish genuine border security. When the jobs slowly disappear because employers prefer to raise wages and attract legal workers instead of going to jail, most illegal workers will go home voluntarily. That strategy is called "enforcement first," and it is better than amnesty.”

Ever hear of Prohibition, Mister Tancredo? If a law is not supported by the people, it will fail. While everyone is concerned about violent criminals coming across the border, and people generally support the notion of enforcing immigration laws, it’s a different thing entirely when you suggest we can solve basic problems without addressing the cause. The problem with illegal immigration, you are correct, is that many laws are not enforced, but that reflects a social version of laissez faire for people who are willing to live and work peacefully. There is no public support for higher prices without a clear benefit, or for more punitive laws without a clear explanation for why this is necessary, and why it is consistent with our Constitution to treat people differently on the basis of their appearance and culture, as will be necessary in actual practice to enforce the laws. That is not to say such actions are not necessary, but to remind you that neither the President nor the Congress has any power to change these perceptions, but it must begin at the local and county level. Your harangues against the President are doing nothing to address this grassroots issue, which suggests to me that you are more about the image of a fighter, than a true general seeking victory in a crisis. The President is working on the base problem, by separating the gentle immigrant, legal or not, from the violent one, and the one willing to begin obeying the law now, from the one who has no such intentions. With proper support, Bush’s plan will make it simpler and easier and more popular to pursue the worst of those crossing our borders, which should be everyone’s first objective.

“An honest debate on immigration reform must start with that fact, and only people who don't really want to stop illegal border traffic can propose such amnesty with a straight face.”

I agree we need an honest debate. I would therefore like to see you put away your false claims, support the good ideas Bush has presented, and work to propose specific and realistic solutions for the future.

1 comment:

Harold C. Hutchison said...

A brilliant response to the Malkin-Tancredo axis.