Newt Gingrich is under attack by some of his GOP rivals for his opinion that some illegal immigrants, those who have been here for decades and put down roots should be allowed to remain. This, they charge, is amnesty, a four letter word in their world. The establishment media have hypocritically piled on, even though they usually favor amnesty for virtually all illegal immigrants.
Unlike amnesty advocates on the Left, Gingrich argues forcefully for border security as the first step. He has promised that as President he will do what Obama and Bush before him wouldn’t do, close the border. Period. He would then develop a guest worker program to meet legitimate needs for cheap menial labor in some sectors of the economy. With the border sealed so they couldn’t come back, he would send most of those who have entered illegally home. His proposed exceptions would be people who have been here for a long time and have put down roots.
Gingrich is right on all counts. That the border has been unsecured for decades, through Democrat and Republican Administrations, is a national scandal. The door should be closed, once and for all, to illegal immigration.
But for the illegals who are already here mass deportation is not as morally pure as it may seem.
Full disclosure: Personal experience influences my position. I am not Hispanic. Like Gingrich, I’m an old white guy. But back in the 1970s I hired dozens of illegal aliens to work in restaurants in Los Angeles. Like Americans, people who immigrated from Mexico and Central America were not all the same. Some were bad apples. But most were “good people” whose friendship I came to cherish.
Today there are illegal immigrants who have lived here for ten or twenty or thirty years. They have learned to speak English, worked hard, bought homes, paid taxes, obeyed the law and contributed to charities.
Perhaps what is most relevant is that like the rest of us they have friends and family who are citizens. They have married, raised children who are citizens by birth, and may have grandchildren who are citizens and who love them. They have friends, neighbors, and co-workers who are all citizen-voters who would be outraged if the government forced them to leave.
If they belong to a church there could be hundreds more with personal interests in their fate. If the government were to begin forced deportation of such people the media would grind our emotions with video of wrenching, tearful separation from friends and families.
No doubt there are readers who agree with Liberty Works on most issues but who would insist that all illegals be deported as a matter of justice, no matter what the circumstances. To them I say the cost would be too high. Our cause is to increase liberty and prosperity by reducing the power, interference and cost of government. We face a long, uphill battle because so many millions of our fellow citizens-voters have been indoctrinated in the false beliefs that government is the grantor of rights and the source of prosperity and well-being and that it should tax, regulate and supervise more, not less.
There are some 15 million illegals residing in America. How would it hurt our cause if, say, the four million who had been here longest, and had become most assimilated, were legalized and allowed to stay, but not necessarily become citizens?
On the other hand, how would it affect the success of our cause – which depends on securing a majority of votes – if those folks were forced to leave by a newly elected Conservative President and Congressional majority, sparking angry backlash from tens of millions of citizen-voters who were friends and family members? How would that help us in our core mission of downsizing government?
I’ve experienced helpless despair as a trusted employee and/or friend has been detained by federal authorities and deported. That this person entered the country illegally doesn’t make it any easier to watch them being hauled away.
Progressive ideologues and incompetent government are to blame for millions of illegal immigrants. America has a long history of sending mixed signals to those who are South of the Border and desperate to find work. Sure it’s illegal for them to cross the border, but when they get here federal and state governments provide them with free health care and other benefits. We offer jobs that in more prosperous times Americans won’t take. We offer business opportunities to illegals who are enterprising enough to acquire a truck and a lawn mower. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS formerly INS) is certainly one of the most dysfunctional bureaucracies in the Western world. It’s mysterious maze of quotas, exceptions and arcane procedures is an open invitation to try to “beat the system.”
Let’s not let the newly energized small government movement be blamed for using the power of government to impersonally deliver misery to tens of millions of American citizens by deporting their close friends and family members.