By George G. Gause
After listening to all this on the radio and TV, I called my lawyer and asked him to explain it to me in simple terms. I told him, listen Jim, from the legal point of view, who are we actually in this country?
Oh, said he, this is all very simple. We comprise: American citizens; then resident aliens, or permanent residents (I hesitate to say which word I like more – “alien” or “permanent”); then foreign citizens who have legally entered the country, got their passports stamped, and are just hanging around; and finally, all the rest.
And there is something about them, which, for me at least, is clearly very disturbing. They are so poorly identifiable, uncountable (or unaccountable) that even the Government (yes, with G capitalized) does not know how many of them are in the Unites States. Some say twelve million, others guess it may be twenty, but the truth of the matter is, nobody knows exactly how many of them are here in our blessed land, or who they are.
In the absence of this information, it is difficult even to propose (let alone implement!) measures like “deport them all,” “amnesty”, “a path to citizenship”, or “guest worker program”, simply because nobody can figure out to whom all this should apply!
To me, a major problem is that they have no documents certifying their illegal status, but any punitive measures or rewards should of course be applied only to a “legally defined” category. What sort of a category can you define by the absence of any legal US documents, or by the presence of forged documents, or by the absence of any documents at all? Negative identification is all we have, all we have to go by!
Therefore I believe it is a matter of urgency for our legislators to introduce a legal category of illegal immigrants, so that their illegal status would be properly documented, and they can proudly display it, which may open gates, scenarios or options to their further fate, like deportation, being thrown to jail, progressing to citizenship or to glory, or whatever else that may be invented for them by our resourceful ones, in charge of these matters.
The document could be called the Illegal Immigrant Card , and it, God forbid, shall not confer any legal status (this follows from the document’s name); it will simply officially confirm the illegal status of the bearer. Some may object and say that issuing this card may be like issuing a ticket for deportation, but I would rather not have it take this path, at least not at the beginning, since we all know very well that the lack of detention facilities results in a catch-and-release behavior on the part of law enforcement, which does nothing overly good, perhaps only to provide apprehenders with endless, though very repetitive and therefore eventually futile, chains of arrests and releases---and of course a paycheck at federal, that is, taxpayer, expense.
The Illegal Immigrant Card will give illegal immigrants a status, albeit an illegal one. Of course, were it not for the enormous expenses of building prisons and jails, it would be good just to jail and deport them all. And when you think about it, deportation is also expensive. The costs are not just for paying our judicial system. Certain funds would go to the construction industry---some businesses may be using illegal labor. We are a democratic society with the power of choice as to our priorities; for instance, a lot of money that could, perhaps, have been used to build prisons has already been spent, alas, without too many visible results, in Iraq. Osama Bin Laden has still not been caught. I just hate to think that the building of jails and prisons and deportation would compete for funds that may be spent to catch/prosecute/assassinate OBL, World Terrorist Number One, or to fight our war against terrorism in Iraq.
Introduction of the status of Illegal Immigrant (or perhaps of Illegal Alien!---it sounds better, not just aliens, but illegal aliens) is not as wasteful as deportation, or putting illegals behind bars? as some would suggest. It really is a solution, since we resolve the situation, when a person is in the United States physically, but not legally. Sometimes this can be critical. For example, if a woman with Illegal status gives birth to a baby, her baby should not be granted American citizenship by default, since, although mother is physically in the United States, legally she is not. And as always, “legal” would take precedence over “physical”.
Illegals would not be able to use our schools, medical facilities or social safety nets, and our society shall thus be protected from excessive pressure on funds without resorting to the difficult, cumbersome and potentially cruel process of throwing these people out. Of course, I still come around to the idea that deportation is good, but deportation is messy; ergo, out of sheer practicality, I do not advocate deportation, since no one needs an even greater mess in this country.
Why should we do it? Particularly because the Illegal Status might even create certain benefits for the illegals. Since illegals are in the United States illegally, they have no right to work, but then, if they pay a tax or fine or penalty, they can, perhaps, be issued a waiver, which, without affecting their illegality, will allow them to fill some jobs ‘”unpopular among Americans”.
Businesses employing now law-abiding illegals, that is bearers of Illegal Immigrant Cards would have to pay an additional tax on illegals, tax that would be used by the Government for some good purpose, like strengthening the ban on stem cell research, or supporting our effort in Iraq (or Afghanistan, Iran, or North Korea)
Issuing an Illegal Immigrant Card clearly should not and would not be an amnesty (I want to emphasize this for my more conservative and more serious readers). It simply gives illegals a status, but this is a status of illegality. (This is, of course, in combination with the strictest and immediate sealing of our borders! Otherwise the workload on the office that would be printing Illegal Immigrant Cards would quickly become unbearable.)
A few of days ago a cabinet-level official was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if his ancestors immigrated to the United States legally or illegally. He replied very diplomatically, saying that this was not exactly known. I suspect this was due to the lack of his ancestors’ proper documentation. What a shame! This ambiguity as well as many others could clearly be fixed by the timely introduction of the Illegal Immigrant Card.