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Illegal Immigration and Injustices

Last week Jason Hall posted a column at the Catholic Stand that somewhat snarkily takes on the question of why illegal immigrants don’t just come here legally. Jason rightfully points out that it’s not exactly a piece of cake to legally immigrate to the United States. The process is terribly cumbersome, and it takes years for most people to finally gain legal residence, and that’s the case for people who have more connections and resources than the typical migrant worker.

That being the case, while Hall’s column does a good job at highlighting the inefficiencies of the immigration system, what it does not do is provide justification for the comprehensive immigration reform proposal being discussed in the Senate. As I said in the comments to his post, the question of whether the current process of legal immigration is cumbersome  is not germane to the question of what to do with those individuals who have nonetheless entered the country illegally.

Now some have addressed this by stating that the current system is unjust, and therefore those who have entered the country illegally should not be punished for breaking an unjust law. I should emphasize right up front that Hall himself does not state this, at least in the column, but I have heard other immigration reform supporters make this claim. There are a couple of problems with this argument.

First of all, as admittedly burdensome as the immigration process is, that alone does not make the system unjust. Yes, it’s a bureaucratic mess, but unjust? I am not quite sure that an excess of red tape is an injustice that justifies blatant disregard for American laws and the violation of our sovereign border.

Furthermore, if our system were unjust, those who have immigrated illegally are in fact themselves guilty of committing an injustice, and any legislation that effectively rewarded their behavior would be an even graver injustice. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have begun the process of legally immigrating. The current proposal would effectively grant legal status to millions of people who cut in line, and would do so with minimal punishment. So now some ten million people would have been granted legal privileges ahead of those who respected the laws of this country. Moreover, the already over-loaded immigration bureaucracy would undoubtedly be stretched to even greater degrees in the process of legalizing or normalizing the statuses of those here illegally. I have a hard time believing that the overall immigration process would be smoothed out by such a dramatic change.

There are no easy solutions to this mess, and there are legitimate arguments to be made on behalf of some kind of comprehensive immigration reform plan. Of course it’s hard to avoid the feeling that we’re being sold a bill of goods by disappointingly dishonest politicians. But if we’re going to lament having a broken system, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that those we are trying to help played a large part in breaking it in the first place.

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Paul Zummo

16 Comments

  1. I don’t know if the present system is unjust. It may very well be. Cumbersome does not necessarily equal an injustice. Do these migrants (or anyone else for tht matter) have an absolute right to emigrate here?

    That said, I would be inclined to agree that those who are here illegally ought not to be punished nor be looked down upon. But not because of whether or not our present immigration is unjust but because why should we demand they respect our immigration laws if we don’t respect our laws enough to enforce them?

    I don’t think anything other than allowing them to stay is necessarily punishment. I am not, in principle, against making provision for some kind of legal status. I think once we get the border situation under control then we can debate whether or not allowing these people to stay would be a win win situation. But not until we have the will to get the border under control.

  2. That said, I would be inclined to agree that those who are here illegally ought not to be punished nor be looked down upon.

    I agree with that, and with most of your comments. I’m not exactly a hard-liner on this issue. It seems that there has got to be some kind of middle ground approach between deporting them all and legalizing them all, as neither is practicable or necessarily just.

  3. ” I’m not exactly a hard-liner on this issue. It seems that there has got to be some kind of middle ground approach between deporting them all and legalizing them all, as neither is practicable or necessarily just.”

    I don’t know of any of the more of the even hard liners who favor mass deportations, at any of those on the mainstream.

  4. I don’t know of any of the more of the even hard liners who favor mass deportations, at any of those on the mainstream.

    For the most part, no. What I’m getting at is that at least to me there is no solution that will be fully just. The status quo is unworkable, but the reform being offered now is a bridge too far. So what then? It’s honestly a difficult question for me to answer.

  5. I disagree about the need for a middle ground. You cannot compromise on principles and much of the illegal immigration was encouraged by the purposeful lack of enforcement of our immigration laws and safeguarding both our borders, the integrity of our sovereignty and welfare of the citizens of the United States and its institutions.

    You can go to many high end construction job sites in both the Hamptons on Long Island and the Jersey Shore and you will not hear one word of English spoken among the workers who have co-opted tens of thousands of formerly well paying positions in the building trades.

    And there is also the matter of criminal activity among many of the illegals including the formation of one gang in Florida which boasts a membership in excess of thirty thousand. How does that number compare to the ranks of National guardsmen in many of our smaller states?

    Time to face reality and adopt the same immigration laws enacted in Mexico and most other countries around the globe.

  6. The assertion that immigration is cumbersome and a mess is simply not true. Look at the processing times on USCIS.gov. Greencards are under six months processing times nationally and, in some locations, under three. Naturalization hovers at around six months year after year. Work authorization is at 2 months with travel authorization. Asylum is at record processing times – around five months for those who don’t continue their own cases.

    Pray tell, where is the agency failure everyone keeps talking about?

    What we here are individual case and those narrative, even if true an based on full knowledge, are not significant if they don’t tell a wider story supported by data.

    Frankly, USCIS’ problem is the exact opposite of that which is posited: the agency is so focused on timeframes that it swallows a lot of fraud to avoid statistics that would damage its reputation. Make no mistake, the borderline case is always approved. It is only the clearly proven frauds that are denied.

    Immigration’s “mess” is wrapped around the unlawfully present and those persons seeking visas where there are none available. What is so often overlooked is that USCIS and the USDOS can only issue as many visas and in the timetables authorized by congress.

    But what of that? So what if Zeke has to wait 10 years to bring his siblings here? He files the petition, waits out the time, and they enter. Why should we lose sleep over that? It isn’t as though we are talking about minor children or spouces, their visas are immediately available and, if those relationships existed prior to the petitioner getting their status, they were eligible to ride then.

    The delays immigration advocates decry aren’t for those who entered legally, maintained their status, filed for a Greencard, and sought naturalization. That entire process takes between 4 and 6 years. Not a bad timetable in my book for obtaining the most valuable citizenship on the planet.

    You know I have the utmost reapect for you, Paul. Your intelligence dwarfs mine. However, on this narrow topic, I respectfully ask you to seperate the two questions: the “mess” is what to do with the unlawfully present; it isn’t with the legal immigration system and it isn’t with USCIS.

  7. One more thing, Jason is an hysterical child by the way and his piece shouldn’t garner any mor attention than an internet recipe for boiling an egg. I was in the midst of responding to him when I realized that he was just another, tired, bleeding heart immigration advocate. If he can’t be bothered to find out what the process is and whether it is working, he doesn’t deserve to be engaged.

  8. One more thing, Jason is an hysterical child by the way and his piece shouldn’t garner any mor attention than an internet recipe for boiling an egg.

    No, he is nothing of the sort. The piece is disfigured by an unarticulated premise that steals every base: that people should be able to immigrate to the United States without irritants or impediments.

    The issue at hand has a mess of elements that drive one to despair: contrived helplessness and contumely on the part of the bureaucracy and their political superiors, an elite cartel conspiring against both the interests and the sentiments of the populace, and much confused discussion and argument.

  9. Thank your for your input, Dave. I will defer to you on the ins and outs of our immigration system as you have vastly more experience in this matter. Those I know who have immigrated to this country have certainly faced enormous hurdles, though I don’t think think it took them quite as long as Hall suggests people must wait.

    I won’t comment on Jason’s temperament other than to say he didn’t acquit himself very well in the comments to his post, but that is a failing I think all of us are guilty of on occasion.

  10. I apologize for my characterization of Jason as a person.

    I do not know him, have read few of his pieces, and read into his character what I wanted to see in an opponent. It was unfair to do so and I retract my statement without reservation.

    If it is possible to remove it from the comments so that it does no more harm to him while leaving this apology, I sure would appreciate it.

  11. The delays that people experience over the last decade or so are in struggling to find and use an employment remedy to their lawful nonimmigrant status.

    Many H1bs decide that they want to stay in the US. Sometimes that was their intention all along. Often it was a general idea that, if the occasion arises, they would like to stay. However, H1bs often stay for six or more years and, after so much time here, become desperate to remain.

    With luck, their employer files an I140 petition for them to get a greencard. There is a problem though: congress never allocates enough visas to grant all that are pending. (I wouldn’t call this a “backlog” since the agency is forbidden to grant them until their is a visa to allocate.) Thus they sit in limbo: able to work and travel but without the assurance of permanent residence. Further, their time in “limbo” doesn’t count towards citizenship.

    It is a thorny problem though because, while their hardship is real and likely detrimental to the US economy, visa allocation is theoretically based upon industry employment figures. The theory is that the alien beneficiary of an employment visa is being granted the visa to fill a hole in employment that cannot be filled by US persons. Further complicating this is that the jobs we are talking about are sought-after jobs that pay between 75K and 225K a year.

    Politically, congress is hamstrung: industry wanting those visas allocated yesterday and yet their constituents are unemployed and rightfully looking at the intended immigrants and saying “there ARE people here who need and are eligible for that job. You only got it because you are willing to be paid less.”

    They aren’t entirely wrong about that view either.

    My points is only this: immigration is an incredibly complicated subject and narratives are only so useful to the discussion. The statistics have to matter and USCIS and the US DOS have performed, in my view, admirably. We can do better in allocating visas and such. There is room for improvement in the system but it is the system, not the agencies and our work ethics that create the complained-of hardships.

    Dealing with the unlawfully present and preventing the circumstances that led us to this place are similarly complicated subjects but they are distinct subjects from the legal immigration system that we have and it does no good to mingle the two in discussion.

  12. They merely want to pad democat voting rolls with 25,000,000 more dependents.

    This chimera has been squishing around in dem and GOP politicians’ hare-brains for generations.

    The open borders lobby (OBL) wants you to believe “immigration reform” (a.k.a. amnesty) will not encourage more law-breaking.

    The politicians, socialist justice whiners, and OBL don’t want you to know the history, which tells you that the invasion will worsen.

    Between 1986 and 2000, the “over-sized children” in congress enacted seven illegal alien amnesties that made 5.7 million illegal invaders “legal.” In 2006, after 20 years, we still had 11 million additional illegal invaders.

    If we don’t do it differently now, we will have 25 million more illegal invaders in America by 2016.

    None –not one—of those amnesties resulted in a drop in illegal immigrants.

    Today there are what-four times as many illegals as in 1986.

    We need to start sending adults to congress.

    – The 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act blanket amnesty for an estimated 2.7 million illegal aliens

    •1994: The “Section 245(i)” temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens

    •1997: Extension of the Section 245(i) amnesty

    •1997: The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act for nearly one million illegal aliens from Central America

    •1998: The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti

    •2000: Extension of amnesty for some 400,000 illegal aliens who claimed eligibility under the 1986 act

    •2000: The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, which included a restoration of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty for 900,000 illegal aliens]

    The OBL does not care about the average American. OBL cares about lower salaries and fewer benefits.

    The OBL (the 1%, Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Buffett, Soros, Wall Street) is making more money while your wages are falling, hospitals are closing, taxes are rising, schools are falling apart, and our quality of life is being trashed.

    Your liberal, abortion-supporting saints believe that every poor man, woman, and child that can scrape up the $3,000 to $5,000 to pay to be smuggled into the USA has the God-given social justice/blessing/grace/right to stay and live off of us.

    Try doing your social justice with your money, not my children’s and grandchildren’s.

    This from Cafeteria man (Gaius Maus) before he crashed hard left.

    “Yes, and if there were no laws against theft, there wouldn’t be thieves. It’s not the immigration policy that has created “a large underclass”, it’s the ignoring of the immigration policy that created it. Ignoring by, in no particular order, a) government, which doesn’t have the balls to enforce the border, b) business, that continues to knowingly hire illegals and c) illegal immigrants who disrespect American sovereignty. Nothing in American immigration laws creates an “underclass” or exploits people. If people lived by them, there’d be none. It’s the collective IGNORING of the laws that did. It is indeed “morally unacceptable” that a), b) and c) continue to do so.”

  13. I didn’t bother to respond to the original post; it’s pretty obvious when someone has their mind made up, especially with the unstated assumption that an individual’s desire to come here is all that’s important in deciding if they should be coming here.

    I like America. I want folks to come here and make it better, not just come here because they can get more stuff faster. Looking around the areas that have large numbers of illegal aliens– for some reason, folks are surprised that Washington has a lot of them– I notice that there’s no interest in becoming an American.

  14. “First of all, as admittedly burdensome as the immigration process is, that alone does not make the system unjust. Yes, it’s a bureaucratic mess, but unjust? I am not quite sure that an excess of red tape is an injustice that justifies blatant disregard for American laws…”

    If burdensomeness was per se unjust, then how many laws may we as individuals or groups and businesses disregard as unjust? How about Obamacare (independent of its clearly unjust applications) with its 13,000 + pages of regulations/

  15. Drew M has a piece that makes many of the same points, though I think he does a better sense conveying what I was getting at.\http://ace.mu.nu/archives/340830.php

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