Not building a fence and otherwise securing the border for 25 years, while our inaction in enforcing laws on the books against undocumented entry and visa overstays communicated our collective acquiescence to long-term residents that violated those laws, have economic and moral consequences that wails against “amnesty” don’t address.
This former Democrat was for a border fence before border fences were cool.
Before my Summer of 2001 conservative epiphany and conversion to the GOP, and thus also before 9/11 concentrated the minds of non-border state Americans on border security, this constitutional lawyer bemoaned over a century of Fourteenth Amendment mal-jurisprudence that conferred upon pregnant foreigners the power to create citizens of the United States not legally subject to the jurisdiction thereof. Moreover, our post-September 11, 2001 pro-fence bone fides are well documented.
Many Americans were against the explicit amnesty granted to approximately three million illegals by the 1986 law signed by President Ronald Reagan, which also promised to secure the border. A few fences were built to prevent mass rushes of illegals into U.S. urban areas abutting Mexican territory, but the border was never secured, even after 9/11. Yet, a majority of American voters never held Congresses and Presidents of both parties accountable for failing to protect our national sovereignty, even as ever more vocal conservative minorities objected while border and other southern and western states suffered the increased costs of educating, incarcerating and providing health care to millions thanks to Supreme Court-approved federal mandates.
Yes, de jure laws required deportation of visa overstays and those that entered the U.S. illegally in the first place, but the de facto law, that no majority of American voters ever insisted be changed, was one of open borders that allowed millions to establish lives in mostly faux “shadows”. Were nannies, au pairs, landscapers, bricklayers and deacons in churches only operating in shadows? Of course not. They became our neighbors. They did not remain “criminals”, any more than did adulterers, homosexuals or pre-repeal-of-Prohibition imbibers, by any definition of criminal worthy of the appellation, merely because words making such activities “crimes” remained on the books as law enforcement went about their business enforcing laws that electoral majorities insisted be enforced.
So enough with the cries against amnesty as if one were pardoning mass murder. Majorities of Americans have continuously been complicit in a de facto open borders policy that apparently served our needs for cheap labor at the time.
Most importantly though, enough with prideful denunciations of long-term illegals merely because YOU may have been against the non-enforcement continuously since 1987. Your gripe is with the majority of Americans that kept electing the scofflaw legislators and chief executives, not the human beings who rightfully took their cues on what is and is not acceptable behavior in these United States from what the government of the United States and their friendly American neighbors and employers actual DID and DID NOT DO. And what did the government and most of us DO? We either hired them, baptized them into the church or didn’t organize effective political campaigns to secure the border before so many of the “illegals” grew long in the tooth while cutting our grass, building our cities, mopping out floors or changing our babies’ diapers.
Since the debate between Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry over in-state tuition for the college age children of illegals in the Lone Star state concentrated the mind of this Stone Mountain of Georgia-roosted South Carolina Gamecock, we have favored non-voting rights regularization/legalization of long-term illegals as a moral imperative. We might be persuadable on the issue by the Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)-championed cost argument, but the “costs” of the status quo have already been exacted with lower wages and states taxed by their mere presence. Living “in the shadows” it seems isn’t all that shady after all. And since we all agree that we aren’t going to use the bus that Obama regularly throws relatives, friends and natural born tea party patriot taxpayers under to return 11-20 million Mexicans to Mexico, the costs of the status quo admit of no quid pro quo.
We don’t begrudge fellow conservatives that insist that REAL border security (see an actual fence and e-verify) accompany non-voting regularization. Nor do we object to votes against cloture to prevent an unacceptable bill from being debated (although we think the better course would be to save a filibuster for votes on the merits after floor debate).
What we do object to is conflating the sins of our government with unjust treatment of human beings that acted based upon the actions and inaction of the government and us, or at least a majority. That a particular group of Americans have wanted the laws to be enforced (as I did) since 1987 doesn’t change how we, collectively as a people, have treated long-term residents, no matter the technical crime committed in the first instance. The current problem created by decades of inaction can’t be solved by treating long-term neighbors like an escaped-from-prison Charles Manson. Ann Coulter’s definitions of stupidity notwithstanding, it is not stupid to treat fellow human beings in a morally just manner.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson