Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Congress Gets it Half Right, Protestors Get it All Wrong

Los Angeles was clogged over the past several days by these folks, protesting the House and Frist proposals to address illegal immigration.

Those proposals--if enforced--create such a significant disincentive to employers who hire illegals, penalties for smugglers of illegals and such significant penalties to the illegals themselves, that it would become unprofitable for them to illegally cross the border to do otherwise legal things in this nation. Those proposals are one side of the coin which address the security aspects of immigration. But a program that allows these people to legally cross and do work in this nation is equally important. And it is very difficult to imagine an America that did not welcome immigrants.

Because many of the Mexicans who cross the border are the kind who want to do nothing more than work, and work very hard. Because as long as there is daylight, by and large, these people put in the hours and produce good results for their employers. And it is a work ethic like that which has made America great. And their willingness to accept a lower wage (which is great money when they return home) keeps costs down here. Put another way, it is the hard working Mexican who accepts a lower wage because of diseconomies of scale in his own nation that makes our costs lower. So yes, their efforts are important, and they are a vital part of our economy. Which means that the Congress and the President need to respect the double-issue on immigration--admitting people to legally work here, while securing our border from those who would cross to cause problems. And likewise, we need to be certain that we are protected from certain problems that are unintentionally brought by well-intentioned workers.

Pediatricians are recommending Hepatitis-A vaccine for kids again, largely because the food service industry hires many Mexicans who bring with them the illness which is much more prevalent south of the border. As part of a guest worker program, these people's health need to be examined and certified as safe. And I am certain that there will be numerous private institutions, including the corporations that currently hire illegals and would even more gladly hire guest workers that would be more than willing to pay for these folks to get their shots before entering the nation to work. Additionally, citizenship rights need to be changed, so that the children of those who are present as permanent residents only become citizens at birth. Because the problem of "anchor babies"--children born to illegals in the United States who are citizens by accident of birth circumstance--who allow otherwise deportable people to remain in violation of our laws. If one wants a child to be a citizen, sign up to be a permanent resident. Heck, sign up to be a citizen and vote. But the incidentals that come along with border crossings need to end.

Likewise, we need to favor those who behave with respect towards our laws, meaning that there can be no amnesty. Those who wish to legally immigrate should receive all of the rewards of doing so, with no blessings to those who blithely short circuit the law.

Which brings me to the protestors. A bunch of high school kids played hooky in order to protest in favor of illegal immigration. They blocked traffic and generally caused havoc within the city, but there was something remarkable about their protest--they were carrying Mexican flags. There was nothing wrong with doing that, of course, but it sent a very wrong message. The presence of that flag in that setting communicates belligerence, rather than encouraging tolerance. It says of the immigrants who would enter our borders from the south, "We are Mexicans. We will enter your country as we please, to do what we please, to benefit as much as we can, and then take what we got and return back to Mexico." But America has no duty to Mexicans or Mexico, other than those established by treaty. And there is no treaty whereby we are obligated to let people cross our borders at any time and for any reason. There is no obligation for us to provide and pay for the health care of foreign nationals who have entered this nation illegally. There is no requirement that we employ them. But the pressure from the left on this issue because they want America to pay for every last world problem, and the concern by the President that this is a real opportunity to score the Hispanic vote for the Republicans has led to a security gap.

And no amount of foreign arrogance, pink philosophy or Republican opportunism can allow us to ignore the fact that our borders may indeed end up being our life.

There are two sides to the coin. Ignore one or the other, and the opportunity to reward law-abiding immigrant workers while ensuring our own protection is lost.

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