Debating Immigration

Published on September 16th, 2011

The candidates for the Republican nomination for the Presidential election are “out there” appearing at the debates, making their speeches and trying to appeal to the voters and, perhaps even more importantly from their perspective, to attract campaign contributors.

Social Security has been, for years, referred to as the “third rail.”  Conventional wisdom was that anyone who touched upon that subject would get electrocuted.  Today, however, there is an even more potent third rail—immigration.

It is obvious that far more attention is being paid to immigration in political campaigns, especially where the election for the Presidency is concerned, than ever before.  However, while immigration has been raised at the three debates that have, to date been conducted, it has not been dealt with in an honest way and the candidates have generally tried to ignore the real significance of immigration.

While journalists ask the candidates about everything from the economy, unemployment, national security, healthcare and other issues they then raise immigration as though it is a separate issue.

It has been equally remarkable that for the journalists and, for the most part, the candidates, the issue of illegal immigration has been reduced to a discussion about the failures of our nation to secure the border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico and that the immigration laws are about Latinos.

In point of fact, our immigration laws make no distinction about anyone based on race, religion or ethnicity- the only distinction is to distinguish citizens from non-citizens (aliens).  There are, in fact, millions of illegal aliens who are not Latinos and are not citizens of countries to be found in Latin America.

The Mexican border lacks meaningful integrity and represents little more than a speed bump to unknown millions of illegal aliens who easily run that border.  However, no one mentioned the northern border or the fact that the United States has an estimated 95,000 miles of coastline that provides opportunities for aliens to evade the inspections process by stowing away on ships or by being smuggled into the United States in other ways that involve ships.

Former Utah Governor Jonathan Huntsman incredibly stated that if elected, he would work with the four governors of the “border states” to secure the borders and then seek to presumably legalize the illegal aliens who were already here.  Apparently the northern border is not an issue for him even though it is nearly twice as long as the southern border.

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, claimed to have seen the failures of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) up close and in person that, according to him, largely involved the failures to effectively the employer sanctions provisions of that legislative nightmare which provided amnesty to more than 3 million illegal aliens.  Of course he was certainly correct about the lack of resources and political will to go after those unscrupulous employers who  intentionally hire illegal aliens, but he ignored another failure of IRCA, the stratospheric rate of fraud in that program that has national security implications.

Incredibly Mr. Gingrich intimated that aliens who had been here illegally for many years should be granted lawful status.  If he really understands the failures of IRCA, he would have to know there would be no way of knowing how long illegal aliens, many of whom use multiple false identities, have actually resided in the United States.  Fraud was a huge problem in 1986 and would be a huge problem now.

Governor Perry of Texas ridiculed the idea of a border fence, claiming the fence would have to run for 800 miles making it impossible for legitimate visitors and those engaged in commerce to easily travel between the two countries.  Not one of his opponents on the stage called him out on this patently absurd remark.  The creation of a fence or other barriers would not eliminate established ports of entry but would simply secure the border between those existing ports of entry.

Securing the border through the construction of fences, barriers, etc., would not cause anyone seeking to lawfully enter the United States to have to go one mile out of the way–it would just prevent those seeking to cross that border from evading the inspections process that is of extreme importance to national security of both the United States and Mexico.

Immigration is not a single issue but is the major factor in every one of the issues that have, thus far, been debated in the GOP Presidential debates that have thus far aired.  They may not be ignoring the immigration issue, but they are not putting it in proper perspective either.

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