Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Great Immigration Freak Out

Immigration is a frustrating issue because in many respects it’s a government created problem. For years border security has been inadequately funded and illegal employment of undocumented workers been ignored. The problem has grown to an extent that one doesn’t have to live in a border state to realize the impact of illegal immigration. Illegal immigration taxes public resources, it creates an underclass of people that work for minimal wages yet are not directly tied to the community and don’t pay taxes. There are a myriad of problems that stem from illegal immigration and unsecured borders. However, instead of a rational well thought out debate about the issue many people’s reaction to this problem has been to freak out. I can’t think of another political issue that has caused such hysteria. Discussions of illegal immigration rarely tackle the issue in a realistic way. Instead media sources like talk radio bate people into hysteria without offering real solutions. People talk about the country being invaded, about the U.S. loosing its sovereignty, and then inflame the issue further with an ever-present racist undertone.

Concrete plans seem to be few and far between. No one likes the idea that illegal immigrants be rewarded for breaking the law, yet rounding up 12 million illegals seems unrealistic. Many want a wall, but ignore the fact that often people simply over-stay their visas. Cracking down on employers that hire illegal immigrants is generally accepted as a good idea, but it’s not being done in a significant way. Little is done about this problem, the anger builds, and serious solutions have been abandoned.

The Republican presidential candidates are a perfect example of how logic is being abandoned for emotion. Tough talk abounds about how the candidates will stop illegal immigration. Yet there are three major problems with this tough talk. First, these campaign trail conversions to hard-core positions on immigration are obnoxious. Representative Tancredo, accurately noted at the last debate that everyone was trying to, ‘Out Tancredo Tancredo’. None of the top tier candidates have taken a hard-nosed position on immigration in the past, and now they’re pandering and fanning the flames of an already highly emotional issue. Most have supported some version of comprehensive immigration reform and only changed their minds when they realized that it wasn’t politically convenient to stick to their guns. The second major problem with the ‘tough on immigration’ stance is that it hasn’t been accompanied with practical solutions. We are twenty years too late for simple solutions. Ironically, the reason the candidates never took a hard-core approach before is that these solutions aren’t workable. It’s not that the candidates are too liberal, or don’t care about American citizens, as some people in the media like to say, it’s simply that this issue is more complicated than ‘build a wall’ or ‘send them home’ style solutions. The third problem with the tough talk style solutions is that they don’t address what is politically possible. These solutions have to pass the House, Senate, and then be signed by the President. That’s not an easy process, and frankly with a Democrat controlled Congress there is zero percent chance of an enforcement only bill being passed. It’s unfortunate that people aren’t looking for real solutions because this is a serious problems that needs to be dealt with, and the more emotional and reactionary people are, the less likely this issue will be addressed in a serious manner.


mccainminuteman said...

What do you mean not one candidate has taken a stand? John mcCain has put his whole political career on the line for immigration and the Hispanic and Latino populace. As well as immigration reform, which brings me to my next question. Where have you been and do you have new batteries in the old hearing aid?

McCain by State said...

My point was that none of the top candidates have taken the enforcement only approach that many are espousing. I agree that McCain is the only candidate to take a strong and realistic approach to the issue. My complaint is that all the tough talk from the other candidates seems to just be pandering as they don't have records of being 'enforcement only' politicians.

It seems that McCain is taking flak for being thoughtful and realistic.