On Amnesty: Cruz, Rubio, and ‘Compassion’

We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” – Ronald Reagan

As the divide between the Rubioites and the Cruzians expands, several themes have begun to come into sharp focus. One such theme is the contrast between those who support amnesty/legalization, and those who do not. As arguments become more barbed, they often become less intelligent, and I’ve already begun to witness this type of degradation of thought. The hits and rebuttals are getting harder and more pointed on each side. But I want to examine the core of this issue: Why support amnesty or legalization?

The following are the main arguments in favor of amnesty and legalization:

  1. We can’t deport the millions of illegal immigrants here because it’s not economically or legally feasible and it’s not compassionate.
  2. Illegal immigrants have put down roots and have contributed to our economy and to society. To remove them would hurt our economy.
  3. Reagan signed amnesty into law, and he was conservative.

Let’s take these one at a time.

We can’t deport the millions here because it’s not feasible, economically or legally. Perhaps this is true. Due to legal processes, and financial limitations, it may not be the most realistic idea to find and deport every illegal immigrant. So, what’s the alternative to mass-deportation? Constraint. Essentially, cut off the head, and the body will die.

If we cannot deport, we can implement a nationwide E-Verify–one that works, and fixes the kinks in the system some have complained about, such as false negatives and positives. We can also make sure it is implemented in every business by promising crippling fines for businesses that break the rules and hire illegal workers. This would ensure that no illegal immigrant could get a job.

We can follow existing law, deporting illegal immigrants who are apprehended. This is a sort of slow-moving deportation. We can also cut off all federal grants to sanctuary cities, and deport every criminal illegal, meaning those who’ve committed crimes aside from the laws they broke coming here in the first place.

Mass-deportation may not be economically or legally feasible, but constraint certainly is.

But it’s not compassionate!

I’ll tell you what’s not compassionate. Giving legal status to millions of illegal immigrants who can then take millions of jobs from American citizens, including legal immigrants, and minorities.

In his letter to the Black Congressional Caucus, Peter Kirsanow, black attorney and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, wrote:

“The obvious question is whether there are sufficient jobs in the low-skilled labor market for both African-Americans and illegal immigrants. The answer is no…Giving amnesty to illegal immigrants would only exacerbate this problem facing low-skilled men, who are disproportionately African-American.”

Kirsanow and Carissa Mulder wrote in National Review:

“Blacks, particularly black men, are disproportionately concentrated in the low-skill labor market and are disproportionately likely to have no more than a high-school diploma. Likewise, illegal immigrants are disproportionately male and also disproportionately likely to have minimal educational levels. Both groups compete with one another in the low-skill labor market.”

What was that about compassion?

Another “compassion” argument centers on the notion that deportation will “tear families apart.” That’s the buzzphrase used by proponents of amnesty because it conjures images of Nazis dragging Jews out of their homes and throwing them into death camps. It’s certainty effective, I’ll give it that.

Here’s an analogy to more properly frame the issue:

A poor man decides that the only way he can support his family, and feed his children is to embezzle money from his employer. He’s not making enough money to put food on the table, so he comes to the conclusion that the only option left is to steal.

After years of embezzling, the man is caught. Should he be let off the hook because he was only doing it to help his family? No. Actions have consequences. He goes to prison for five years, and his kids temporarily lose their father, as well as the income he was bringing in from his embezzlement.

In the same way, should someone who broke the law, illegally entering a sovereign nation, be let off the hook simply because he or she has a family? We are either a nation of laws, or we are not. If we don’t want to “tear families apart,” then allow the entire family to go with whomever is being deported. If they’re citizens of age, they can choose to stay. If they’re children, they can stay together by going back together. This “tearing families apart” concept is a scare tactic, meant to cloud our rational judgement, and make us fear doing what’s legal and just.

The second main argument is that many illegal immigrants have put down roots and have contributed to our economy and to society, and that to remove them would hurt our economy. As to the first argument, I would refer you to the above analogy. The length of time spent living after the initial crime doesn’t invalidate the notion of consequences. As to the economic point, it’s patently false.

According to The Heritage Foundation:

“In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. This generated an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household. This cost had to be borne by U.S. taxpayers. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar…

If amnesty is enacted, the average adult unlawful immigrant would receive $592,000 more in government benefits over the course of his remaining lifetime than he would pay in taxes. Over a lifetime, the former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 trillion in taxes. They would generate a lifetime fiscal deficit (total benefits minus total taxes) of $6.3 trillion.”

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) adds:

“The Heritage study is absolutely clear that the fiscal costs associated with illegal immigrant households is directly related to their educational attainment. They find that illegal immigrant have on average only 10 years of schooling.”

Illegal immigrants may help increase the GDP, but that alone isn’t necessarily a good thing.

CIS notes:

“George Borjas, the nation’s leading immigration economist estimates that the presence of immigrant workers (legal and illegal) in the labor market makes the U.S. economy (GDP) an estimated 11 percent larger ($1.6 trillion) each year. But Borjas cautions, ‘This contribution to the aggregate economy, however, does not measure the net benefit to the native-born population.’ This is because 97.8 percent of the increase in GDP goes to the immigrants themselves in the form of wages and benefits.”

The idea that illegal immigrants have helped the economy is simply untrue. But it’s a nice talking point.

Lastly, proponents of amnesty point to Ronald Reagan. If the conservative god was in favor of amnesty, we must bow down, or be banished to the land of non-conservatives, never to invoke his name again. To put it nicely, the notion that a conservative cannot disagree with Ronald Reagan and still be a conservative is ludicrous.

One more thing–and I believe this is a critical point proponents of amnesty don’t understand. If illegal immigrants are granted amnesty, they will eventually get voting rights. Immigrants tend to vote Democrat. If 11 million (some estimates put it between 20-30 million) illegal immigrants can suddenly vote, that’s a massive boon to the Democratic Party, one that would turn the tide permanently. A conservative would never again win national office. A quick look at voting trends tells you that.

Advocating legalization–but not citizenship–is just as bad. Legalization will eventually lead to citizenship. To think otherwise is naive. In 2014, DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile said of legalization without citizenship:

“I don’t think you can create two classes of citizens in this society, one with legal status and the right to vote, and one without.”

The idea is at the forefront of the liberal mind. Don’t think it’s not.

To conclude, I’m over being told that my position doesn’t measure up to other people’s idea of “compassion.” What about compassion for the jobs lost because of illegal immigrants? What about the negative impact they have on the economy? What about the law? What about justice?

We are a nation of laws, or we are not a nation of laws. Sometimes following the law necessitates painful measures.