Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Immigration Reform for Dummies

Behold a scan of my immigration reform plan, which came to me while thinking about our current political gridlock, in light of real stuff we need to happen right now, like jobs and revenues.

My ridiculously simple T-account chart for compromising a deal on Immigration Reform...
This is really so easy and simple a plan that even a fifth-grader could have come up with it. Plus, it's already been done once, back in the 1980's. Reagan promised amnesty as the revenue to save Social Security (which it did, rendering it back in the black less than a decade later), in exchange for a fence to appease conservatives. The amnesty part worked wonderfully. Congress didn't follow through on the fence, however (and since it has had GOP leadership more than once since then, they could have corrected that and never did).

Before we get to the present-day gridlock that currently mars reform, let's explore a bit more. The fence was originally agreed to by Reagan on the grounds that it would stop the increase in illegal immigration once built. The amnesty would make all illegals already here citizens, thereby wrapping up the whole problem with a pretty bow tied round it.

Only problem was, the Dems, who had regained Congressional control before the whole thing became law, wanted amnesty and no fence, so that is what the law ended up being. (And, neocon corporatist GOP's wanted open borders as well, for cheap labor and global capitalism.) This produced, to this day, a taste in anti-corporate anti-neocon Republican mouths so bad that were they to eat some, they would either throw it up or die of indigestion.

And this is where I get frustrated. I cannot figure out why the GOP cannot lay the blame for this at the Dems' feet of the guilty charged with implementing it instead of aiming their blame at the concept of amnesty, probably the only good thing I think Reagan, their idol, ever did. Inconsistent much? Why must they now count it as a mistake Reagan made? Clearly it wasn't one, not as originally intended. The only mistake was the lack of Congressional follow-thru. The law was not actuated as designed. More importantly, this current position backs the GOP into the corner of supporting something shadowy and impossible to enforce (green cards, work permits, employer policing), in order to...what? Be against what the Dems are for?

Anyway, if you look at my chart, you see that I've assumed the Dems want Amnesty and No Fence. And the GOP wants a Fence and No Amnesty. I believe these assumptions are pretty irrefutable. What I do in this chart is show that Congress can produce immigration reform by forcing each side to choose one thing each wants the most and giving up on the other one. Merge the two first choices and voila! Instant legislation and reform. How is that even remotely difficult? And why hasn't it been done yet????

A few more things: it is imperitive for the Fence to be built first. Why? #1. Because it wasn't done the first time around. End of discussion. This one fact accounts for a LOT of the anti-amnesty opinion. Some things are just done because they are the right thing to do, and this is one of them. Yes, it's expensive, but if it is infrastructure and done as a jobs program, that cost becomes more palatable and money well-spent.

But, if that is not enough, here's #2. The Fence is no longer a structure iconized to represent keeping Mexicans out of the country. That's so yesterday. The Fence is now a representation of National Security, and it became that around the time that John McCain changed his mind about it, because he changed his mind about it because the people of his state became increasingly in danger of terrorist invasion, that's why. (You can always tell a way-too-partisan person by him calling that a flip-flop.) But, I digress. The point of #1 and #2 is that they are the arguments to be used to persuade Dems and to justify it to GOP'ers.

Now, let's go to the Amnesty arguments. Let's tackle No Amnesty first. YadaYada, yes, we all agree in the dark recesses of our souls that it's not quite right to give all of those party crashers a free ride and let them stay here and be citizens. But, let me ask everyone who says no way to letting them stay: do you have any idea how much money it would cost to round up each and every illegal and send them back? Do you? How about just an estimate? No??? Well, let me suggest to you that no amount is high enough. And that is assuming that we have all the money in the world available to throw at it, which is completely not the case now.

And the other assumption that's wrong is that even if we could pay for it, it would be impossible to do. A complete waste of money, time and energy. Take it from someone who lives in a city that has been completely transformed in numbers by the underground illegal. Officially, hispanics make up 30% at most, yet unofficially, we are at least 55% hispanic. The difference is the legal status of hispanics. How do we know this? The official numbers are the city's own stats. The unofficial percentages are the school district's, which have to educate all children and therefore include the illegal numbers.

I explain this because my city has a sophisticated and effective Mexican underground...not as in mafia or violence. I'm talking about a separate economy, whatever it takes for the illegals to live. About 15 years ago when I and my school volunteer mom friends first discovered it, we were offended and shocked. But gradually we all had to begrudge it some respect, as it worked like a finely oiled machine. Now, we all just accept it and wished our own institutions worked as well. We also got to know more and more Mexican parents thru school, work, neighbors, etc. And we now know they are just people, too, like us, wanting a better life. And they are by and large willing to work their butts off and then some to get it. Which I happen to think is admirable and is an example this country needs to see more of.

But my main point is still this: you cannot make any law that will root them out. They are entrenched and will just burrow deeper underground the harder you try to find them by limiting our freedoms more and more toward a police state. We will lose our freedoms long before we erdicate America of all illegals, mark my words. I know. I live among them. The only thing that will cause them to come out into the sunshine is amnesty and citizenship, for as confusingly as we have treated them, they still dream of becoming American citizens.

So, conservatives: why continue to cling to this impractical and impossible principal of rooting them out and telling them to get in the back of the line? Because it's the right thing to do? Its ineffective expense makes it just as frivolous as massive Obamacare reforms right now, and so not the right thing to do. Plus, there is a little matter of us accepting responsiblity for OUR part of this problem. How did they get over here, anyway? That fence was never built, remember? We closed our eyes or looked away, and they came over. We shouldn't have looked away if we didn't want them to come, so we don't get to decide it's not right after the fact. Accept the fact that we failed at policing our border, that these folks are here now, have been here for years, and we need revenues, so make them taxpayers and let them help us out!

But first, build that fence and enact one humongous JOBS package. Let's invest in some infrastucture and kill several birds with one stone. Liberals must recognize and accept that if a poor persecuted Mexican can make it over, so can an evil-minded terrorist. Every day that we leave that border open is one more day for terrorists to invade us. And those drug cartels are terrorizing our citizens on the border right now. Each side of this argument gets something, and each side has to give something up. The solution I've detailed is just crying out to be legislated and enacted. We need more taxpayers to create more revenues out in the open and officially, we need jobs, we need border security, we need to save Social Security again for a while (until our government's general fund manages to steal the profits from it like the 3.1 trillion dollars they have in IOU's so far).

But most of all, we need some LEADERSHIP on this issue. Why isn't Obama pushing for this right now? He needs something like this, badly. Independents would find this admirable and he would get some much needed props from them, and maybe a softening toward him for their vote in 2012. And if he got gridlock flack from the far left and far right, as he will initially because both of them want all their demands, he could paint them both as jobs-denying, Social Security-killing, national security-failing obstructionists.

Today I saw an article quoting Eric Cantor advising his GOP House colleagues "to avoid brinksmanship in spending fights". Being that Mr. Cantor was painted as a Tea Partying rebel in the debt ceiling kerfuffle, this can only mean that GOP'ers are taking the polls seriously, that the vast middle of America wants them to quit fussing and fighting and start solving stuff.

Well, NOW is the time to solve this! Perhaps Compromise can once again be a noble endeavor. We're not doing anything else that would be such...