A Very Brief Quiz

Explain the difference between this:

Any person who—knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation; encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law; or engages in any conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or aids or abets the commission of any of the preceding acts, shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).  

And this:

And be it further enacted, That any person who shall harbor or conceal such fugitive, so as to prevent the discovery and arrest of such person, after notice or knowledge of the fact that such person was a fugitive from service or labor as aforesaid, shall, for either of said offences, be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, by indictment and conviction before the District Court of the United States for the district in which such offence may have been committed, or before the proper court of criminal jurisdiction, if committed within any one of the organized Territories of the United States; and shall moreover forfeit and pay, by way of civil damages to the party injured by such illegal conduct, the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, in any of the District or Territorial Courts aforesaid, within whose jurisdiction the said offence may have been committed.

29 thoughts on “A Very Brief Quiz

  1. Well, the first is talking about harbouring illegal immigrants, while the second is taking about aiding or harbouring runaway slaves.

    Other than the language being the same, it’s an apples and oranges situation as a)first generation slaves had no desire to be in this country; b)first generation slaves had been deprived of their liberty upon capture, subesequent-generation slaves were under no guarantee of liberty whatsoever.

    However, illegal immigrants have willfully entered into a violation of the law DESPITE having freedom of movement prior to their violation.

    As much as the pro-immigration rightists want to make this a Human Rights Issue on par with Abolition, the flaw in their argument is that these people DO have ways to come into this country legally–which they choose not to exercise.

  2. No, they do not. The majority, wait, much as i find this term to be redundant, the VAST majority of unskilled labor coming into this country do NOT have a legal, orderly way of doing so. If they did, would they risk death in the desert? The waiting period for a poor, unskilled person to come here and work is around 20 years, in effect, a lifetime. Bad trade policies on both sides keep these people enslaved and endangered. Just because they are not rounded up and placed on boats doesn’t mean they have any real “freedom.”

    There isn’t a person reading this blog that wouldn’t trespass to feed themselves or their families if that was the only way to survive. It’s easy to talk about ‘choices” when our choices essentially come down to chicken? or beef? for dinner.

  3. There isn’t a person reading this blog that wouldn’t trespass to feed themselves or their families if that was the only way to survive

    Speak for yourself, thanks.

  4. What Mack said. There are legal ways for a college professor or a computer analyst to come to this country with a wait of a few months or years and the payment of some hefty fees. There are ‘legal’ ways for a social worker or a would-be print shop owner to come to this country with the wait of a few months or years, the payment of some hefty fees, and the willingness to lie on a couple of answers on the forms they file. But currently, as Mack points out, there is no legal way for an unskilled laborer to enter this country, since the waiting list is decades long and the fees involved will never be affordable on the wages currently available to him/her.

    We can change that, of course. Tell you what: if we can manage it so that it takes only a few months or a couple of years to get an unskilled work visa, and we require that alien workers with legal visas be paid at least minimum wage and not lower than the prevailing wage for their job in their area, I’ll be all about keeping the ‘illegals’ out. Until then, and given the complete hypocrisy with which this issue is treated, I’m going to treat any immigrant just like any other.

  5. We can change that, of course. Tell you what: if we can manage it so that it takes only a few months or a couple of years to get an unskilled work visa, and we require that alien workers with legal visas be paid at least minimum wage and not lower than the prevailing wage for their job in their area,

    As I’ve said before, I’m ALL for relaxing the immigration restrictions. But I can’t help but feel a bit betrayed by the whole moving-of-the-goalposts from the Immigrants Rights groups.

    Because once everyone started talking about easing restrictions, assessing civil penalties, etc., many IR folks began clamouring for total amnesty.

    From where I sit, agitprop like “look at how we treated slaves and compare that to how we treat illegal immigrants” is more fuel to the Total Amnesty fire. And I’m sorry, I will never support Total Amnesty in any way.

  6. Good Lord. I have been in this fight for years, and have never once advocated that Total Amnesty be declared. (though, I’m completely for it)
    But the whole amnesty thing is unnecessary, really. We can uphold the rule of law by simply using the tools available within our current legal framework. Fine assessment, probation, restitution, and yes, the statute of limitations. If you truly love “the law”, you must love all that it encompasses.

    The ugly truth is, many on your side of the aisle want to portray anything less than wholesale deportation as amnesty, and it clearly is not.

  7. “speak for yourself.”

    Clearly you have never been hungry. I’d have no respect for a person that would allow his children to starve to maintain some ego-driven desire to appear “law-abiding.” Like I said, it’s easy to talk about hard choices when you really haven’t made any.

  8. Good Lord. I have been in this fight for years, and have never once advocated that Total Amnesty be declared.

    So I misunderstood you when you wrote this at Hispanic Nashville:

    That said, I no longer respond to allegations of amnesty by pointing out how wrong it is to apply the term. No, in fact, I now simply ask “well, why not amnesty?”


  9. “speak for yourself.”

    Clearly you have never been hungry.

    Again, speak for yourself. There’s a whole lot about me you don’t know, and could never presume to know.

    But just in case you were wondering…there have been plenty of times that I’ve been poor and hungry, even in a foreign country.

    And I never once fed or clothed myself through illegal means.

  10. I’d have no respect for a person that would allow his children to starve to maintain some ego-driven desire to appear “law-abiding.”

    Hence, the reason to go to war to keep gas at a $1.00 per gallon.

  11. Yes, I asked a question. Why not? I happen to think amnesty is a reasonable thing to do. I could see your point if thats ALL I have ever asked for. Please address the whole post, rather than attempt to derail the thread. What is it about our current legal framework that you feel will not offer a solution to this very real and dangerous problem?

    As for not “knowing everything about you”, I have been living with a woman for over 14 years, and I still don’t know everything about her. I said that anyone would break the law, (I used trespass, since it’s the closest applicable law here) if THAT WERE THE ONLY OPTION AVAILABLE TO THEM. Clearly, you had other options, perhaps you traded work, or sold something you owned, or had a friend wire money. Doesn’t matter. You and I both know that at the time, you were well aware that your situation was a temporary one.

  12. 1. All situations are temporary.

    2. What “real and dangerous problem” do you have reference to?

    3. You made a presumption about my actions and the subsequent morality of those actions. You also made a presumption about my mental state and behaviour. I’ve corrected you. You’d do well to admit that you were wrong.

    4. I still don’t buy that the folks who cross over illegally are all doing so under some banner of oppressing poverty or crushing gang wars in their home countries. I realise that’s the most movie-friendly way for you and your movement to portray it. But frankly, I think there are a lot of people who come here because they want more. I can’t fault them for that, but I do fault them for not following legal procedure and for whinging when they get caught breaking a law they KNOWINGLY violated.

    5. I think amnesty is an unreasonable thing to do because it sanctions the whole philosophy of the end justifying the means. It also retroactively punishes all those who abided by the law to come here legally. We as a country owe those people for their contributions AND their integrity.

  13. I’d want to be sure that a limited amnesty didn’t create an entire new bureaucratic nightmare before backing it.

  14. Yes, the man that has one saltine cracker to divide between 4 people clearly wants “more.”

    How many immigrants do you know? I don’t mean those that arrived here on a visa, and payed their money, and had benefactors here to assist them in the process, but those that were desperate enough to leave home and family, cross a dangerous river, and then a dangerous desert so that they might support themselves and their loved ones? I have spent too much time, in too many homes of just those kinds of people to be duped by some romanticized movie-friendly propaganda. Its REAL, their stories are heartbreaking, and you know what? We can help these people. Just a tiny amount of effort from us, and we can improve millions of lives. Why is this such a hard thing to get your head around?

    How many times has Aunt B made us aware of the devastating effect that deporting a sole breadwinner would have on american born children of immigrants? You don’t think there is anything real or dangerous about that ridiculous tactic?

    If i made a presumption, it was due to your own admissions that you come from a family full of lawyers. Am I wrong? Was your temporary brush with hunger the result of your own actions? Surely you can see that there is a HUGE situational difference between being raised here, and being raised in many places to our South.

    And again, this wasn’t ever about Amnesty. I am stating for the third time that we can “punish” those that committed this civil infraction by using the legal tools we have. It’s not amnesty to do so. Lets stop calling it that, first.

  15. Just as a side note to this, I’m actually very curious about whether there are legal ways for folks to get here. I just spent some time perusing the INS page and the State Department Page. If you’re an unskilled laborer from Mexico, for instance, you have to be authorized to work in the U.S. and then you wait to be issued a visa number. But, as they explain, “U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available every year. This means that even if the USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for you, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately. In some cases, several years could pass between the time USCIS approves your immigrant visa petition and the State Department gives you an immigrant visa number. In addition, U.S. law also limits the number of immigrant visas available by country. This means you may have to wait longer if you come from a country with a high demand for U.S. immigrant visas.”

    Okay, that seems clear enough. You first get authorization to come here and then you get in your proper line and wait to have a visa number issued to you. There might be a considerable wait. Fair enough.

    How long do unskilled Mexicans have to wait? According to the State Department, they are now issuing visa numbers to unskilled Mexican workers who were approved to receive a number back on or before February 8, 1988–twenty years ago.


    And how many of those numbers are available, presuming that those folks aren’t all dead or already here?


    Yep, none.

    So, this is what I don’t get. How can we say that there are legal ways for folks to get here? It’s like saying, “If you want to get into this country, you come through this door.” and just ignoring the fact that the door is locked. It doesn’t matter if there is a door if that door is never open to folks. It’s not really a way here, is it? It’s just the bureaucratic appearance of a way here.

  16. Hunh. I think part of what makes this conversation awkward (both in the particulars here between Coble and Mack, and in larger discourse) is an issue of focus. Who are we concerned with – the ones who have other (real, viable) options but choose to do illegal things for whatever reason, or the ones who don’t have other (real, viable) options, and thus choose to do illegal things? And, to a lesser extent, what percentage of people fall into each category?

    I think the people in the former category need to be dealt with in one way (consequences), and the people in the latter category in another way (compassion). And I think that we need wide systemic change… to sort people into those categories, to deal with them appropriately, and to make sure that we have a framework that encourages people to do the right thing, rewards good behavior, and makes sure that people get what they need. I don’t care what you call that solution, but that’s what I have in mind.

    And it seems like a big part of what makes this so hard is personal context. I can see you deciding to starve before you’d do anything you considered wrong, Kat. And I think that’s admirable, but also not easily generalizable either. Not everyone is you, and since the system is broken, I don’t think holding everyone to a standard of being more like you’ (which is on its own a lovely thing) is a viable or desirable goal. People shouldn’t have to make the choice between starving (or being disappeared, or executed, or whatever) and committing crimes. The problem is in the system that we have to deal with our circumstances, not in individual moral failures or even comparative ethical frameworks.

    I think your analysis suffers from the same problem (to a degree), Mack. You’ve seen the suffering, and you know what choices you would make if faced with those circumstances. I personally would do whatever I had to do, short of direct harm to other people, to keep myself and my family alive and well. I get that. But focusing on whether the group as a whole is more like you or more like Kat sort of sidesteps the issue – we shouldn’t have to be making that choice. The system is broken, and the comparative ethics of a situation, while relevant, are more easily and directly addressed by un-breaking the system than by arguing which of you is more correct in their choices and frameworks.

    I think that both parts are useful, in the larger debate. It’s important to think about the role of the law in our daily lives, and what we would or would not give up to fit within that framework. It’s important to keep centered the incredible amount of suffering and pain going on as a result of all this. And yes, it is important to note that not all of the people affected are the same – some are law abiding, some are not, some are resourceful, some are not, some would do anything to survive, and others would rather adhere to the law no matter the consequences. But here, in this place, I think it amounts to talking past each other. “Not all people are good!” and “The way things are really sucks” aren’t mutually exclusive, and … it doesn’t seem like either argument really meets the other one.

  17. The U.S. currently issues 5000 non-agricultural visas a year. Worldwide. At even modest growth, our economy creates roughly 250,000 low-skilled jobs each year. Those that seek to derail comprehensive immigration reform like to say that there are no jobs Americans won’t do. Thats absurd, on it’s face, but even if it were true, it isn’t a matter of doing the jobs Americans won’t do. There are simply not enough Americans to fill those slots.

    Roughly 78 million Americans were born from the tail end of WW2 until the early 60s. They make up just about 41 percent of the current population. By contrast, generation X’ers number about 44 million. For the next five years, around 8000 Americans will turn 60 each day. Thats alot of people leaving the workforce, and right soon. I won’t even go into the obvious boost immigrant workers could provide to Social Security.

  18. Good points, Mag, and i allowed myself to be sidetracked from my central point, which is a lot like yours. It makes moral sense to me, sure, but it seems completely logical to embrace these new workers, especially when we haven’t thus far invested a dime in them. Here we have a chance to tap a healthy and strong workforce, and it would behoove us to invest a little in our infrastructure to not only accomodate them, but incentivize them to assimilate. Unfortunately, every discussion on this topic quickly devolves (by design, I think) into a discussion about amnesty for those already here.

  19. When each single male immigrant worker is claiming eight non-existent kids on his W-4, I wouldn’t go holding my breath for that big Social Security Windfall.

  20. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, illegal immigrants DO produce a net surplus in Social Security and Medicare in excess of $7 billion, but they cost other federal programs a total of $17 billion per year, resulting in a net cost of $10 Billion / year.

    The study estimates that cost would triple if they were given amnesty.

    Then there’s the effect of giving social security retirement benefits (something that is designed to be paid into from a young age) to millions of adults who are given amnesty later in life.

  21. Yes, but doesn’t that presume they’ll be able to afford to retire? They could be paying into Social Security until they die.

  22. Wait…are libertarians all for defending entitlements now? Holy smokes. I’m fine with progressive types arguing from the “but we must protect the aged and poor” position, but when guys like Exador uses the potential collapse of Social Security as a reason NOT to do something, it kind of confuses me.

  23. EX, all people who use social services are a “net drain”. I was talking about the need this country has for a larger pool of unskilled workers. The S.S. program will begin to look like an inverted pyramid before long. And, if some of those federal programs are things like ESL programs, then that investment will pay large dividends in the future.

  24. Hardly an entitlement when it’s money that you put it. At least that’s the theory before congress filled the lockbox with IOUs. And what’s the return on that money? 1.5% or so? Wow, what a windfall. If only they’d let me just put the money in the bank.
    Realistically, at 37, I don’t expect to see a dime of it. Libs and old people are in too much of a panic over global warming to give me the option to keep an extra %.
    Anyhoo, it’ll just get screw-job’d worse when we add 12 million adults who enter the system at middle age and then make $15/hour till they retire.

    Yes Mack, all people who use social services ARE a “net drain”, so why would we want to import more of them?

    And B, you still get the SS money, even if you keep mowing lawns after 65. How many Walmart greeters are amongst the generation who thought FDR’s Ponzi scheme would keep them in Metamucil?

  25. “I was talking about the need this country has for a larger pool of unskilled workers.”

    Legally letting in more unskilled workers wouldn’t really help with that problem. I suspect most of the illegal unskilled workers only stay unskilled because they’re illegal. Making ’em legal means a lot of them can find ways to get skills.

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