Friday, August 3, 2007

Against Amnesty

A few months ago, I was a "comprehensive" immigration-reform guy, which is to say that I supported "amnesty."

But arguments from my friends in the rightroots, during the recently concluded Senate debate, caused me to question my boosterism. Here's my admittedly cliched, quick precis:

America is a nation of immigrants, but we’re also a nation built on and strengthened through the rule of law. Put another way, America is our home, and newcomers should enter through the front door—legally—not backdoor their way in through an unlocked window or through amnesty.

Some would prefer to grant citizenship to those who have, say, lived in the U.S. for X number of years, maintained a clean criminal record, learned English, obtained gainful employment, etc. But amnesty undermines the rule of law and gives every incentive to those who are leaning toward illegal entry to do so. This is what happened the last time Congress tried to reform our immigration laws, in 1986: instead of addressing root causes, amnesty only enlarged America’s illegal-alien population. Unsurprisingly, this is why reform is again so urgent.

Furthermore, amnestying those who have entered our home illegally does deep unjust to those who have waited in long lines and met our various requirements for citizenship.

Instead, the priority of immigration reform—indeed, the basic obligation of any government—must be to secure the nation’s borders and thus protect our national security. We can start by enforcing laws already on the books, like those that forbid employers from hiring illegal immigrants in the first place.