Wednesday, July 04, 2007

in partial defense of George Bush over shamnesty

I'm not exactly a George Bush supporter. I've been a fairly harsh critic at times. But he always told the truth. The Medicare outrage, for example, was an actual campaign promise. If Republicans didn't want it, then they shouldn't have voted for him. I didn't.

But George Bush had a good reason for pushing the shamnesty bill so hard. I'm not talking about "good" reasons like that he is trying to come up with a legacy or that he wants to move the Hispanic vote toward the R column or that he is paid off by big business. I'm talking about the very real moral debt that Bush owes to so many illegals, the debt that comes from luring people to your country to work as an illegal underclass.

And make no mistake, Bush did lure them here. Deliberately. Not only his lax border enforcement and lax internal immigration enforcement, but also his silence about sanctuary cities and the Mexican illegal-alien ID card, and his warm friendship with a corrupt Mexican president who openly encouraged border-jumping, all of this clearly signaled to Mexicans and others that the US government was not serious about border laws, that America was wide open for anyone with the courage and temerity to enter illegally or to overstay their visa.

In addition, Bush has been signaling for years that he intended to give a broad amnesty. That alone was surely the motivation for many of the illegal entries, and deliberately so. These illegals were lured here not only by George Bush, but also by Clinton and the previous Bush, and arguably Reagan as well. And Congress has not been innocent. This has been an ongoing, underground policy by our political class for a generation.

And can you really blame them for coming? I know it's easy to moralize about THE LAW and how we don't want lawbreakers immigrating. But there are laws and laws. Illegal immigration isn't like robbery, it's more like speeding. Just like speeding, illegal immigration doesn't directly hurt anyone. Sure, it may indirectly take away jobs from people, but then speeding has a chance of killing someone. And more importantly, just like the government isn't really serious about stopping people who go five miles per hour over the speed limit, so they aren't serious about stopping illegal immigration. Sure you can get a ticket for going plus five, but no one ever does. And sure, you can get deported for overstaying your visa, but no one ever does. The government's consistent and deliberate failure to enforce the law diminishes the law and makes it almost no law at all. Because of the government's attitude, in terms of moral culpability, overstaying your visa is really not much more serious than plus-five speeding. By luring people into this violation, our leaders have taken on a moral debt that they do have an obligation to pay.

America's political class has lured illegals here because they believe that our economy needs the cheap labor and because they were unwilling to have an open and honest discussion with America about a large increase in legal immigration. Why were they unwilling to have this conversation? I don't know. Judging by their rhetoric over the shamnesty bill, maybe it's because they really believe that America is full of inbred, redneck racists that don't like Mexicans. Maybe it's because they knew that if there were a real debate, then the unions and minority groups would oppose the import of cheap labor. Maybe it's because they wanted to raise the minimum wage but not destroy the economy so they needed a large pool of illegal labor that would work for illegal wages. Maybe it's because they want to be able to hire their maids, nannies and gardeners from a shadowy underclass that is afraid to make any complaints if they don't like their working conditions. More likely it's a combination of the above and some other reasons that I've not thought of.

And maybe they are right about the economy. Maybe our economy does need a large increase in legal immigration. It's certainly worth a debate. Is cheap labor good? Or is it better to have expensive labor which encourage automation, which is more efficient in the end? I don't know. Let's talk about it. But let's not continue this outrageous, anti-democratic shadow policy of thwarting the will of the electorate by refusing to enforce democratically-passed laws. No doubt Bush thought he was doing this for good reasons, but there is no excuse for a democratically-elected president to violate his oath of office by failing to uphold the laws of the United States. No excuse.

Although George Bush does owe these immigrants something, he only owes it to them because of prior bad faith to us, the people that he is supposed to be serving. He needs to come clean about this. Admit to the American people what is going on, apologize for his part in political malpractice and then argue about what we owe the immigrants currently in the country and how many additional immigrants we need. I think that if he told us the truth, he might be surprised at the reaction that he gets.

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