House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump’s immigration proposal to build a border wall in exchange for amnesty for younger foreigners was a campaign “to make America white again.” It made a great sound-bite. “Professing to believe something you don’t believe” is a critical element of political gamesmanship.
Yet Pelosi shamelessly offered not one word of analysis or argument about the proposal itself. She made an allegation instead of an argument. An accusation of racism evidently obviates the need to debate the actual proposal. This sort of thing permeates the ongoing discussions to legalize residency and more for the millions of illegal aliens currently inside the United States, now taking form inside yet another attempted legislative deal.
Activists believe that legal status and a path to citizenship for 1.8 million proposed beneficiaries is an inadequate, if not cruel, remedy. But why should these proposed beneficiaries receive preference over those currently enrolled in the legal immigration process? Prospective immigrants have applied, passed background checks, and paid money. 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 Consider the Arguments
Let’s examine some of the arguments. First, some Democrat strategists suggest undocumented residents are doing America a favor by side-stepping the legal process. They say we should overlook the violations for our own benefit, because there are “jobs Americans won’t do.”
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 legal immigration could not have met. Notwithstanding the value some illegals bring, the “favor to America” argument is nonsense.
Or perhaps the undocumented are engaging in civil disobedience, violating the law to highlight its unjust nature. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail that “he who breaks the law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the consequences.” Further on King wrote, “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.”
Foreign citizens illegally inside the United States deliberately violated immigration law for their own benefit, concealed their misdeeds, and took action to evade the consequences. The men who integrated lunch counters and registered voters in the American South fought injustice. The Dreamers strike out against inconvenience and accountability.
It Might Be a Good Idea, But It’s Charity, Not Justice
Or, have 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, but it is not yet clear.
Some circumstances do argue for legalization. Clearly, most Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) enrollees were not responsible for their undocumented status. Their parents and guardians, however, made affirmative decisions to circumvent the legal process and evade detection. Amnesty for Dreamers may prove, over time, to be a wise decision, but is a purely benevolent act. It does not remedy any injustice.
Some activists portray the undocumented as victims. Their patrons in Congress would allow Dreamers’ parents to use their children as leverage to secure legal status. This remedy seems to pose no moral dilemma for Democrats. Why do the DACA children get preference over those actively pursuing legal immigration? Why should Dreamers and their parents merit consideration not afforded to illegals who entered the United States unaccompanied by their offspring or an unrelated child? The reasoning is incoherent.
Punish Law-Abiders to Preference Law-Breakers?
Former speaker Pelosi maligned the president as a racist, although it is unclear how legal status for nearly two million largely Hispanic aliens, which was part of his proposal, serves to make America white again. She offers no defensible rationale for legalizing the Dreamers. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it seems the ends really do justify the means.
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 anger many advocates display. They are being forgiven, in many cases, for intentional and calculated violations of immigration law.
The Trump proposal would allow 1.8 million people to retain residency and offers them an opportunity to become citizens in as little as ten 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 achieve legal status and are granted residency, their undocumented counterparts may already be citizens.
Amnesty and a path to citizenship are a kindness the United States extends. It is a preference that the beneficiaries haven’t yet earned. A little gratitude might be in order. At minimum, spare us the outrage and the overheated political rhetoric.