House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently commented that President Doanld Trump’s immigration proposal was a campaign “to make America white again.” It made a great sound bite.
“Professing to believe something you don’t believe,” after all, is a critical element of political gamesmanship.
Pelosi shamelessly offered not one word of analysis or argument about the proposal itself. She made an allegation in lieu of an argument. An accusation of racism evidently obviates any need to debate the actual proposal.
Activists contend that legal status and a path to citizenship for 1.8 million proposed beneficiaries is an inadequate, if not cruel, response to the problem caused by former President Barack Obama’s executive action that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But why should these proposed beneficiaries receive preference over those currently engaged in the legal immigration process? These prospective legal immigrants have made application and passed background checks. They have been placed on a waiting list and now wait for residency outside our borders.
Why does the line now start in front of them?
Let’s examine some of the arguments.
First, some Democrat strategists suggest that undocumented residents are doing America a favor by sidestepping the legal process; we should therefore overlook the violations for our own benefit.
Yet we are not in the midst of a labor crisis. There is no reason to believe that these undocumented aliens are filling a need that could not have been met by legal immigration. Notwithstanding the value some illegals bring, the “favor to America” argument is nonsense.
Second, it could be argued that the undocumented are engaging in civil disobedience, violating the law to highlight its unjust nature.
However, as Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” that “he who breaks the law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the consequences.” He added, “he who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community … is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
The men and women who integrated lunch counters and registered voters in the American South fought injustice; the so-called “Dreamers” deliberately violated immigration law for their own benefit, concealed their misdeeds and took action to evade the consequences.The Dreamers strike out against inconvenience and accountability.
Third, some claim the Dreamers committed forgivable transgressions, ones for which they feel regret and desire forgiveness.
Are they pleading for a second chance to get right with the law? Do they truly wish to assimilate? Hopefully yes, at least for some, but that is far from clear.
Some circumstances do argue for legalization. Clearly, most DACA enrollees were not responsible for their undocumented status or, initially, even their presence in the country. Their parents and guardians, however, made calculated decisions to circumvent the legal process and evade detection. Amnesty for Dreamers may prove, over time, to be a wise decision. It is, however, a purely benevolent act. It does not remedy any injustice.
Some activists portray the undocumented as victims. Their patrons in Congress would allow Dreamers to use children as leverage to secure legal status. This remedy seems to pose no moral dilemma for Democrats. Why do these DACA children get preference over those actively pursuing legal immigration? Why should Dreamers with children merit consideration not afforded to illegals who entered the United States unaccompanied by their offspring? The reasoning is incoherent.
I could still be persuaded that broad-based legalization serves the best interests of the United States. But it is hard to sympathize with the demands of many advocates.
The Trump proposal would allow 1.8 million people to retain residency and provide them an opportunity to become citizens in as little as 10 years. Prospective legal immigrants (those who obeyed immigration law) will continue to wait outside our borders. In fact, they will be required to do so. When they finally receive a visa, their undocumented counterparts may already be citizens.
The law-abiding have been moved to the back of the line. Adding insult to injury, the Trump proposal also cuts future legal immigration by half, effectively making the line twice as long. So, we punish the law-abiding and reward the violators. That won’t inspire much respect for the legal immigration process going forward.
Amnesty and a path to citizenship would be a kindness extended by the United States. It may actually be a fair compromise. But it is a consideration that the beneficiaries haven’t earned. A little gratitude might be in order.
At minimum, spare us the outrage and overheated political rhetoric.
Michael Cronin is semi-retired after many years in the moving and cartage business. He closely follows politics with a special interest in business and health topics.
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