Go Ahead and Give ‘Em a Way!

Via Sharon Cobb comes word that the Senate is working out a plan to grant every illegal immigrant in the U.S. legal status and give them a clear path to citizenship.

It’ll be interesting to see what the details are and it’ll be interesting to see if Kleinheider faints.

14 thoughts on “Go Ahead and Give ‘Em a Way!

  1. The returning to their country part is laughable. No sweat, we’ll just gather up our children and head to Guatemala for a few years, see you soon!

    That said, at least if they break this damn inertia, we can head in some direction, right or wrong. I think the stalemate was frustrating everyone.

  2. would it be so horrible for me to say i don’t want them to get any path to citizenship?

    a path to legal status, yes. there’s no real sensible reason to deny them that, in my eyes. but they are, indeed, illegal immigrants, since they did indeed commit a crime in simply entering the country; why should deliberate, knowing criminals be allowed to become citizens? that’s denied to people who enter completely legally.

    (okay, it’s denied to legal immigrants with criminal records above some certain severity; you can get away with traffic tickets and like misdemeanors. but illegally entering the country surely shouldn’t be seen as a crime that won’t be an impediment to citizenship of that same country! what would citizenship still mean if you didn’t even have to respect the laws of citizenship before you could get it…?)

  3. What does citizenship mean now? If you are born here, you are a citizen. Theres no need to ever do a thing to earn it. You don’t even have to vote! Join the Armed Forces? Nah, thats for po folks. just FYI, crossing the border illegally IS the equivalent of jaywalking.

    That said, I agree with legal status. Let’s start there, so families are not torn apart in our effort to feel safer. We can decide later what to do about eventual citizenship.

  4. Brittney, it would be hilarious to see if that gave Kleinheider bad gas, though maybe not for you folks who had to sit near him.

    Mack, I agree, something to break the stalemate and diffuse the situation. And, if what they’re saying is true, that folks will have eight years to return to their country of origin, it seems to me like that allows time for families to make arrangements for kids or to figure out how to send one parent right away and another parent later.

    Nomen Nescio, I understand your outrage, but the truth is that, according to the Federal Statue, coming into this country illegally isn’t much of a crime. The maximum penalty for it is a fine and a couple of years in jail. The outrage and sense of violation people feel about illegal immigration is completely out of proportion to the actual severity of the crime.

    Now, if people want to make illegal immigration on par with murder or armed robbery, so that their outrage matches, they need to get the laws changed.

    But it doesn’t really seem like folks want to do that. They just want a scapegoat for their anger and feeling of being unsafe in their own country.

  5. “Now, if people want to make illegal immigration on par with murder or armed robbery, so that their outrage matches, they need to get the laws changed.”

    So NOW you’re Miss LawandOrder?

    How about the LAW that says you get deported when you are here illegally?
    Let’s continue deporting until “they get the law changed”.

    Oh that’s right. Only SOME laws should be enforced.

  6. Exador, I will concede that you are right to point out my hypocrisy. I was, in fact, being slightly disingenuous. However, the law does not say that you automatically get deported when you’re here illegally. You’re automatically sent back to your country of origin if you’re caught trying to sneak into the country, but, once you’re here, you get a hearing with lawyers and all. Deportation is one path a judge might choose (and the most likely one in this climate) but it’s not automatic.

  7. The more I read this argument that focuses on ‘illegal immigrants’ having invalidated their humanity here for having broken the law by just entering the country, the more I feel that the argument is just a carefully constructed cop-out. I understand why it has so much resonance, though.

    Aunt B., I think this is about more than just physical safety. That is the bogeyman that gets trumped up in these arguments, and your observation of the typically light penalty for the ‘crime’ of entering this country off the books is proof that the issue is something other than physical security.

    The immigration phenomenon is an integral component of a complex continuum of social and economic factors upon which we all have an impact (‘illegal’ immigrants and citizens alike). We as U.S. citizens are collectively reaping the most benefits from this continuum. The migrants are generally at the lean end of it.

    The devil’s in the details, though. There is massive financial inequity within our republic, and that inequity creates feelings of insecurity for many if not most of us. Instead of confronting that inequity– indeed at the global as well as the national level– many of us seem content to pick on those who are even more vulnerable than ourselves.

    I think there is something mentally and morally sick about this approach: we are willing to demonize or marginalize someone with next to nothing who’s willing to go through the effort and risk of travelling thousands of miles into unwelcome territory in order to work hard for a slightly better life while, on the other hand, we glorify and protect the privilege of those whose monumental excess is usually built and maintained at our own expense (and that of the migrants).

    That we support this approach with an arbitrary, capricious, unjust, and often inhumane mechanism of laws and enforcement makes it even worse. (If you don’t think these mechanisms are unjust and inhumane by nature, then look at this and this.)

    So, yes, I agree with you, Aunt B., that this is largely about people looking for scapegoats for their anger and frustration. But it is not for something so forgiveable as concern for their immediate physical security.

    In the autumn of Imperial America we are a nation of spoiled, easily frightened brats who are unwilling to invest sufficient mental and moral energy into addressing the complex problems with which we are faced. We want our cheap gas and our cheap food, dammit, and in the end we really don’t care how many foreign brown people have to have their homes leveled, their families torn apart, and their lives forfeit in order for us to get our fix. God help anyone who suggests that our ‘way of life’ is the core of the problem.

  8. I agree with Mack in that breaking the stalemate may be the most important thing of all.

    but… (I put it in lowercase because I always have a “but”, although mine is getting smaller day by day)…

    Just to be clear: what exactly does this “fix”, and why didn’t the last mass-citizenship-granting by Reagan fix whatever the problem is? What makes this one different?

    I’d much rather see a more comprehensive proposal, but I’m afraid it’s going to take some huge cataclysmic event to light a fire under our collecttive, er, butts.

  9. what does citizenship mean? to you natural-borns, perhaps not that much. to me, as a prospective naturalized immigrant? don’t get me started. my feelings on it are much too confused and contradictory — i’d never stop rambling incoherently.

    i’m not really outraged at illegal immigrants, i wouldn’t say. most of them are perfectly decent folks who perform needed jobs, at least in my area. i’m outraged at the suggestion that they might end up being given not just total forgiveness of a crime that could’ve landed me deported, but benefits i’ve had to work, wait and worry years on end for. that seems highly unfair to those of us who jumped through the hoops and followed all that blasted red tape, and unfairness does rankle. it might end up being a necessary injustice, of course — we surely can’t throw several million more mostly harmless people in jail, we couldn’t afford to anyway — but it’s no less annoying for that.

    i certainly don’t want to dehumanize them by labelling them illegal. i use the term as i would use the term “felon” for someone who’s committed a felony — they’ve immigrated illegally, hence they’re illegal immigrants. of course they don’t lose their status and dignity as human beings for that, they merely lose their status as law-abiding people.

    and, a maximum of a couple years in jail? that’s not the penalty for a minor crime, that’s felony level. it sounds about right to me, actually, even as i recognize we can’t possibly slap that sentence on every illegal immigrant. (nor should we even if we could.)

  10. Yeah, I hear you and Coble, when she gets on this point. It isn’t right or fair that people who’ve been playing by the rules will see a whole bunch of folks who didn’t seem to benefit from that.

    And I don’t know how to rectify that except to say that they should pay a substantial fine (the Senate is talking about $5,000) and should have to try to make it right some how.

    Because here’s my thinking. You’re doing things the right way, and because you’re doing things the right way, you have an easier life than most illegal immigrants. You don’t have to fear the police. If a crime is committed against you, you don’t have to weigh whether to get the authorities involved. Your boss can’t say, “Fuck me or I’m calling INS in and they’ll be here so fast you won’t even have time to call your kids to say good-bye before you’re deported.” No one’s talking opening about you being vermin or cockroaches. No one is plotting in, for instance, North Alabama to get a group of folks together to shoot you.

    Our economy thrives on being able to exploit undocumented workers and giving folks some way of being able to become documented brings them out of the shadows and makes their exploitation a lot less likely.

    Plus, we’re talking about folks who have, in some cases, been here for decades. Is the 26 year old man whose parents brought him here when he was three really a criminal? Isn’t it a kind of sick joke to talk about sending him “back” to Mexico? Back to what? he’s lived here his whole life.

    We need to find some way to deal with these folks compassionately, because right now the anti-immigrant sentiment, coupled with a lack of compassion, is leading us to some scary places.

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  12. Nomen, I’ve got a bunch of friends who are themselves naturalized citizens or who went through all the hassle of getting green cards. So I know how much of a hassle it truly is. (Do not even get me started on what Reagan did to the INS, and how no president since then has bothered even paying lip service to staffiing it in a way that would make it work.) But if you look at any of the so-called amnesty plans that are being floated, they are all going to require just as much hoop-jumping as you have been going through. There will be just as many papers to file, just as many affidavits to obtain, just as many times that the entire file gets lost and they have to start over from the beginning, just as many fees to pay (more, in fact), just as long to wait. The “amnesty” refers to not being charged with a crime. They’re not going to get any advantages over people who did the paperwork ahead of time.

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