Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Long-Awaited Immigration Post

It's been a while since I've talked immigration, but since Bush is thinking of reviving his guest-worker idea, I'll talk about it.

But first, here's an interesting article about a town in New Jersey that is actively refusing to enforce federal immigration laws. They've forbidden their local cops from reporting immigration violations, so illegal immigrants are now free to report crimes and resolve disputes through the local police.

And this seems to prove my biggest point about immigration. An enforcement-heavy approach doesn't get rid of illegal immigration - it just pushes it further underground. An immigrant-friendly policy would improve the lives of everyone involved, incorporate the newcomers into our society, and increase immigrants' contributions to our economy.

O'Reilly criticized this policy on his last Factor, pointing out the case of a Virginia Beach illegal who killed two teenagers while driving drunk. The spurious claim on O'Reilly's part, of course, is suggesting that the really bad crime the perpetrator committed was an immigration violation. Wrong - it was DRUNK DRIVING. Drunk driving isn't strictly the province of illegals - it could have just as easily been an asshole college student that killed those kids. I'll bet that wouldn't have stoked O'Reilly's ire, though. He was looking for an excuse to rip on liberal immigration policies and he found it. He could have just as easily argued for the deportation of all college students and found a similar case to harp on.

And it is the province of fools like O'Reilly to make the claim that "if immigration police had done their job, those kids would have been alive today." Actually, if immigration police had done their job, that guy would have succeeded in crossing the border on his fifth or sixth attempt. Rather, if we had a liberal immigration policy that allowed this guy to get a visa, we could a) allow the border patrol to do its job preventing drug-runners from crossing rather than chasing after honest job-seekers and b) allow the border patrol to ensure that this guy, if he is deported for his crime, doesn't return.

Let's dwell quite briefly on this idea of deporting immigrant criminals. I don't see, in some cases, how that's an appropriate punishment. They committed the crime here; they ought to be punished for it here. Sending them back to their country of origin only allows them to escape punishment and cross illegally again. If we're talking deportation after punishment, then I guess that's okay.

Anyway, O'Reilly unwittingly proved the point of the Hightstown folks. Because what if the situation were reversed; the victims had been illegals, and the perpetrator a citizen? In your average city, the crime would have likely gone unreported - the family of the kids would have been deported had they spoken up. Not in Hightstown - justice would still have been served either way. That's the genius of the Hightstown policy - treat people like they're equal citizens, and pretty soon they'll act like they have a stake in your society.

No comments: