According to the HuffPost, three Texas Democrats — two running for state office plus U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who’s running for the Senate — are proposing that the U.S. decriminalize immigration.
The suggestion is offered as a compromise: The government agrees to go back to imposing civil penalties on those caught attempting to sneak across the border, and in exchange Dems in Congress will stop clamoring for the abolition of ICE.
The HuffPo author can’t resist skunking the deal by tossing in the superfluous claim that the law criminalizing unauthorized border crossings was first proposed in 1929 by a southern segregationist but eventually moves on to a defense of the plan.
So what are the problems with the proposal? The main one is that the situation on the border would go back essentially to what it was during Obama’s presidency. During that time 2.5 million new migrants joined the illegal population in the U.S.
Instead of going backward, I propose a lateral move. Revise the immigration law, but do it in a way that mirrors the immigration law in Mexico. According to a 2006 article at Human Events:
… Mexico, which annually deports more illegal aliens than the United States does, has much to teach us about how it handles the immigration issue. Under Mexican law, it is a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico.
Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:
- in the country legally;
- have the means to sustain themselves economically;
- not destined to be burdens on society;
- of economic and social benefit to society;
- of good character and have no criminal records; and
- contributors to the general well-being of the nation.
The law also ensures that:
- immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;
- foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;
- foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;
- foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;
- foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;
- those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.
The law and the immigration provisions in Mexican constitution both contain the sorts of restrictions that would be viewed as racism were they implemented on this side of the border. According to Article 32, for example, foreigners are admitted into Mexico “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” Article 37 adds:
Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets “the equilibrium of the national demographics,” when foreigners are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when “they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.”
Try telling that to members of La Raza in California, who wave the Mexican flag at rallies and claim the United States “stole” territory from their homeland.
Under Mexican law, moreover, illegal immigration is a felony, resulting in an automatic “penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos.”
A glimpse back at a document from 1903 reveals that, at the height of European immigration to the U.S., similarly strict laws were in place.