Monday, May 31, 2010

Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform Amnesty?

I often hear the statement that "comprehensive immigration reform" or a "path to citizenship" is just another word for amnesty.

If we took an offense that originally involved a jail sentence, and we change the penalty so that the person gets community service, is that amnesty?

This is from The Catholic News Agency

The reform would require those who have broken the law to pay a fine, pay owed back taxes and learn English. He said these requirements rebut claims that immigration reform is a kind of amnesty, since amnesty is a benefit granted “without anything in return.”
If you are penalizing an action, but you are not penalizing it in a different way than one would ordinarily have expected, is that amnesty?

The rebuttal might be that if you said if you let a murderer off with community service plus a fine, that's still surely amnesty, even though the person was penalized.

When I think of amnesty, I think of the law saying "Oh forget it." I don't see that in these proposals.


Anonymous said...

Would letting off BP's executives with 1000 hours of collective community service be amnesty?

Victor Reppert said...

But are illegal immigrants doing harm to the degree that would justify harsh treatment? Is their illegal presence in our country malum in se, or just malum prohibitum?

Anonymous said...

What is "harsh treatment"? Sending them back to their countries of origin? Merely denying them the right to live and work here, or receive benefits?

And let's say you come home one day and find a stranger in your house. Would you call the police? And what would you think if the police asked "Well, is his illegal presence in your home malum in se, or just malum prohibitum? Maybe the guy is just resting on your couch when you're not using it. Maybe he's just sleeping in the closet. Is harsh treatment really necessary here?"?

Anonymous said...

The reform would require those who have broken the law to pay a fine, pay owed back taxes and learn English. He said these requirements rebut claims that immigration reform is a kind of amnesty, since amnesty is a benefit granted “without anything in return.”

For all practical purposes, if a requirement is something that anyone with any sense would be willing to comply with, then it isn't a meaningful requirement at all. There's no fine you could realistically impose that the vast majority of not-yet-illegal-immigrants wouldn't be willing to pay to get access to this country. Learn English? They'd be glad to. Any sort of...we'll call it 'quasi-amnesty' so as to not hurt delicate feelings...would simply encourage more illegal immigration.

Victor Reppert said...

Would you agree that it is not logistically feasible or ecomonically beneficial to deport all the illegal immigrants in America? That is what I suspect is the case. So, what do you propose?

So long as the jobs are here, and jobs are lacking in Mexico, you are going to get immigration, legal or illegal, from Mexico. Fences, border troops, and racial profiling will not stop them. We create the demand for illegal drugs in America, our corporations run sweatshops right over the border in Juarez, and we supply guns to Mexican gangs. Our disastrous trade policy is part of what makes illegal immigration so desirable. I mean think about it. These people pay coyotes, and then cross the dangerous Arizona desert in order to get into this country. Why? It's sure not my idea of fun.

We share a continent with Mexico. We are not an island. We have to make sure that we are part of the solution, and not part of the problem. Just "gittin tuff" on illegal immigration isn't going to get us anywhere if we don't come to terms with the root causes of the problems.

Anonymous said...

Could we deport all the illegal immigrants? It seems to me that Operation Wetback did just that. But even assuming it is completely impossible, significant inroads could be made without mass deportation. Laws like Arizona's are causing illegals to avoid the state. If our laws became sufficiently hostile to illegal immigration, then many would likely leave. It would probably be impossible to eliminate all illegal immigrants, but 100% effectiveness isn't really needed. Point is, if we don't want to deport then we have other options.

I quite agree that the root causes of illegal immigration can't be addressed by a single law. Our rulers are in thrall to corporate interests, as well as absurd diversity and multiculturalist ideologies. Our trade policy is disastrous, but for us, not Mexico. "Made in Mexico" isn't as ubiquitous as "Made in China", but it's pretty common. Also, one of the root causes of illegal immigration is that America is a generally more successful country than Mexico, which is something we can't do anything about.

We do share a border, but then lots of people share borders with other people without constantly jumping them and trespassing on other peoples' property. I like Mexico and Mexicans, and I think they should stay there and contribute to it. Cultural exchange is normal and natural, but population exchange isn't.