A little bit more sensible article at the National Review

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rich Lowry on Catch and Remove & El Salvador on National Review Online

I don’t necessarily agree with all of this, but I can chalk up the disagreements to philosophy rather than insanity.

Advocates of a guest-worker program and amnesty argue that the migrant inflow here from points south is literally inexorable. Actually, illegal migrants are people, and so they respond to incentives and disincentives. Enforcement matters to them, as is being demonstrated by the two different approaches to catch-and-release on the border.

Hey, what do you know, immigrants are people.  I fear the acceptance of this fact is much more difficult than it should be for too many people.

However, I’m afraid that the article is failing to take some things into account.  It blames an old rule that prevented the US from deporting Salvadoreans because El Salvador was in the middle of civil war in the 1980’s.  The rule is still on the books, and Mr. Lowry postulates that many Salvadoreans come here because they know about this law, and they know it’s harder to send a Salvadorean back.  Even illegals from other countries often try to claim to be Salvadorean.  I’m sure this old law is not helping, and it should be fixed.  Old laws that are no longer applicable should be rewritten.

The point he’s missing, though, is that there are other possible reasons that there are more Salvadoreans.  For example, let’s say that one Salvadorean leaves his home and comes to the US illegally and manages to stay because of this law.  He starts working and sending money back home, helping his family.  So his old neighbors see this happening, and they decide to try it, too.  His cousin comes along as well, knowing he’ll have family around to help him get started.

Contrary to popular belief, not all illegals know each other.  If there are strong Salvadorean communities here in the US, they will attract more immigrants, legal or not.

I don’t want to trot out the tired arguments in favor of letting all the illegals stay.  “Were your parents Native Americans?"  "What happened to bring me your tired, your poor?"  Those arguments have been made, and I think they have some validity, but it doesn’t really solve the problem.  I think we do need some control over who’s here and who’s allowed to stay.  But we do not need racist militia in border states shooting at people looking for a better life.  We don’t need a wall across the entire southern edge of the country.  We certainly don’t need a national id card that we all have to carry, all the time.  I will show my id when asked to prove my age at a bar, prove my identity at the bank, to vote, or to prove I can legally operate a motor vehicle.  That’s about it.  I like to think I would go to jail before I showed my id to prove I could legally walk down the street.  A small part of me hopes I’ll have to prove that sometime.  It would be fun to call my mom to bail me out.

I do think we need to do something about illegal immigrants.  But I haven’t yet heard a good solution, and I don’t have one myself.  But someone must.

Posted in: uninformed ramblings