April 6, 2006
Pre-emptive Surrender of the BordersBy Mac Johnson
You can tell that the tide is turning in the debate over illegal immigration, because the advocates of open borders and amnesty are no longer arguing about what should be done. Now their argument has degenerated into a description of what can't be done. From a dozen mouths this week we have heard: 'we just can't deport 11 million immigration criminals —even if we wanted to,' and of course the amnesty proponents don't want to.
Well, how convenient. But polls show they've lost the argument by a 3 to 1 margin, so to them it turns out that the debate was pointless anyway. Only their plan is even possible. The world's sole superpower has been defeated by a surplus of busboys and gardeners.
The follow—up question I never hear asked is: 'If we can't deport 11 million, then how many can we deport; and can we get started on that number?' The implicit answer always seems to be 'we cannot deport any number'.
If that is the case, then we should surrender our other national ambitions immediately. We are a weak and failed country, incapable of securing even the most basic requirement for nationhood: control over our borders and territory.
In the strange binary world of the amnesty advocates, there are only two choices: total acquiescence to the corrupt status quo or the 'spectacle of mass deportation,' which needs be done immediately or not at all.
Consider how George Will presents the problem. Mr. Will is a man I respect greatly. There was a time when he and William Buckley were the only two conservatives allowed near a media outlet. But his reasoning on this matter is a bit curious, yet well within the amnesty mainstream:
Well, my goodness, that's a lot of buses; and it would surely be impractical to conduct deportation that way. But who came up with this transportation plan, Mayor Ray Nagin? A line of buses? Suppose, Mr. Will, we let the buses each make two trips? Or better yet, what if we let a few buses just work continuously?
Then the line might stretch only from San Diego to Los Angeles, where, by the way, a lot more than 26,000 Latinos live, conveniently located just a few miles from the border. And my plan to have the buses each make more than one trip doesn't even consider the remarkable possibility of letting the buses also travel side by side in two adjoining lanes on the interstate. Think how short the line would be then, Mr. Will.
Since we do not (to my knowledge) have laws against being Latino, we must note, as Mr. Will does not, that there are also many millions of Latino citizens of the United States and green card—carrying legal residents who respected our laws in entering the country. (Purposely confusing 'Latino' and 'Illegal Alien' seems beneath Mr. Will, but it is a standard technique among the proponents of amnesty.)
The 11 million fraudulent immigrants in question snuck into America by ones and threes and tens over a period of government neglect lasting more than twenty years. Why do you think they must all be made to leave in just one day? Or even in just one year? Yes, fixing the problem will take a while — just as allowing it to reach proportions this ridiculous and burdensome also took quite a while.
The important thing is that we get started.
It will take years just to hire the increased border patrol agents we need. Even if we were to increase the number of border patrol agents tenfold, there will always be some immigration criminals who manage to sneak through the border, or over it, or under it, or who come in via a tourist visa and then just never leave. To have any real control over this problem at all, America must have a competent and sizeable apparatus to deport those foreigners who do not have our permission to be here. We must have both a border patrol and a system to arrest and deport immigration criminals found in the interior.
And only the federal government, or those who wish immigration controls to fail by design, would be so silly as to think that we need to create a huge single purpose police force to apprehend immigration criminals inside our borders. Everyday, illegal aliens come into contact with law enforcement at traffic stops, auto accidents, domestic disturbance calls, chance encounters and dozens of other situations. But for some reason, we pretend that local law enforcement must not play a role in fighting immigration crime. Indeed many cities prohibit their officers from even asking suspects about their immigration status.
This wall between local and national law enforcement is absurd. It exists only for immigration crimes. When the local police arrest a car thief, they are not prohibited from asking him about a bank robbery — despite bank robbery being a federal crime. Likewise, when the FBI investigates a wire fraud suspect and finds obvious evidence of a potential murder at his home, they do not declare 'That's a state crime' and walk away.
For most crimes, the local, state and federal jurisdictions work together on the crazy theory that law enforcement is supposed to enforce laws, even if that means calling another agency and switching the suspect from one set of handcuffs to another. Immigration crime should be no different. The federal government must expand its capability to deport immigration criminals found by local police, and local police must be unleashed to fight immigration crime, just as they fight drug crime and violent crime.
Together with increased border patrols, a realistic capacity to deport and increased cooperation with local law enforcement would solve the vast majority of our illegal immigration problem. Local law enforcement will not like bearing the burden of funding federal law enforcement, however. But this impediment to co—operation is easy to remove, using a model of motivation widely used in fighting drug crimes.
Local law enforcement agencies are currently authorized to seize the assets of many of the drug criminals they apprehend. They should be similarly authorized to seize the assets of immigration criminals. This would also create a powerful new incentive for illegal aliens already here to leave voluntarily, while they can still leave with their savings and possessions.
Today, an illegal alien stopped for speeding is usually just sent on his way. Imagine if the police force encountering him instead seized his vehicle, cash and other known possessions and held him for summary deportation by federal authorities. That would discourage future illegal immigration far more than yet another amnesty or a guest worker program — especially when the deportee returns to his home town and tells his story a few times. And other illegal aliens, witnessing his situation, will decide to vamoose, while the vamoosing is good.
Money is the motivation for immigration crime, and taking that money away is part of the solution to immigration crime.
What is needed is not a line of buses to Alaska, but a line of seized cars headed to the auction block.
We can grant amnesty, and be overwhelmed again in 10 or 20 years. Or we can secure the border, seize assets and deport immigration criminals, and be in control of the problem in 10 or 20 years.
Mac Johnson writes a column for Human Events. His webpage is here.