Politics

Rubio: Legalization first, border security whenever

Rubio: Legalization first, border security whenever

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a Spanish-language interview to the Univision network in which he said the following: “Let’s be clear.  Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization.  The legalization is going to happen.  That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization.  Then come the measures to secure the border.  And then comes the process of permanent residence.”

That’s exactly the opposite of what he’s been saying to conservatives ever since the beginning of the comprehensive immigration reform debate.  Time and again we’ve heard that border security would be an ironclad prerequisite for amnesty.  Rubio has occasionally made noise about walking out on the Gang of Eight immigration bill, if security was not addressed.

No doubt he would explain his very different posture before the Univision audience by stressing the difference between “legalization” and “permanent residence.”  The impression he gives conservatives is clearly that fresh waves of illegal immigration will be decisively repelled before we start handing out citizenship to the illegals on the U.S. side of a secure border.  The impression he strove to give his Spanish-language audience was the polar opposite: we’ll get that legalization process humming along, putting every illegal on the fabled “pathway to citizenship” immediately.  Later we’ll do something or other about the border.

Note that Rubio presented border security as trivial detail, not a series of stern measurements the government could fail to meet, halting the legalization process.  In fact, he explicitly promised the Univision audience that “legalization is not conditional” on any other consideration.

The idea that process could be halted is arrant nonsense, and yet another example of how the ruling class perpetually misleads the American public on the topic of immigration, decade after decade, Democrats and Republicans alike.  Does any sane person seriously believe that some sort of “legalization” process could be initiated now… and abruptly halted in, say, 2016, if border security requirements were not met?  That’s as silly as believing that large numbers of illegal aliens will be marched out of the amnesty booth and shipped back across the border because they don’t speak English, or can’t pay their back taxes.  (Leaving aside the inconvenient detail that most of those folks would be more likely to “earn” a tax credit, just try to imagine the scene where a poor family is bundled into the deportation truck by armed federal agents for shipment to Mexico.  It would become one of the iconic “civil rights” images of the millennium.  Republican politicians would go mad with fear at the idea of being linked with it.)

Rubio was more honest and unflinching when he told the Univision audience, “As for the legalization, the enormous majority of my colleagues have accepted that it has to happen, and that it has to begin at the same time we begin the measures for the border.”  That’s an accurate description of what most of his colleagues believe, and what quite a few of them want.

But why should the rest of us believe it?  Another formulation that has become popular with Rubio is claiming that we’ll have “de facto amnesty” if no reforms are passed.  This is also patronizing nonsense.  It’s more like de facto anarchy.  We only have “de facto amnesty” because the government refuses to do its duty and enforce the laws.  That’s not some inescapable force of nature – a default universal state every nation must inevitably fall victim to.  Plenty of other countries have strict immigration laws which they rigorously enforce.  Ours is willing to admit that it has no interest in enforcing the law… at least when it’s talking to audiences that approve of such negligence.

That’s the same negligent government that has been accumulating gigantic amounts of information about its citizens, and monitoring their activities, for other reasons.  The same people who claim they can sift through the meta-data for hundreds of millions of Americans to spot terror threats also claim that keeping tabs on illegal immigrants is utterly impossible, a challenge so formidable that it cannot even be attempted.

This is, in part, because it’s considered ideologically unacceptable to target surveillance any more carefully, or restrict immigration from regions with a propensity for producing terror threats.  Everyone must be regarded as a potential terrorist, because scrutinizing particular groups would be impolite.  Unless, of course, the group in question is strongly opposed to the agenda of the super-State and its faithful acolytes.  Those people can be treated like subversives by the IRS, and carelessly slandered as a terrorist threat by public officials.

Our political class has largely accepted the notion that America has no moral right to control its borders, or award citizenship carefully.  This is partially because immigration has been twisted into a racial issue, making those who express reservations about our loose borders easy to slander as racists or xenophobes.  This strategy is clearly at work in the “comprehensive immigration reform” debate, which is driven by the Republicans’ fear that if they’re not sufficiently accommodating to illegal immigrants from south of the border, legal immigrants – and even third- or fourth-generation native-born American citizens of Hispanic descent – will punish them at the ballot box.

It’s deeply unfashionable, but I’ll speak plainly: shame on people who push that idea, no matter which party they belong to, or what they happen to look like.

We’re constantly told we are a “nation of immigrants.”  Well, why should the immigrants from any single region have special dispensation to override our laws?  Why should they want such dispensation?  I respect them enough to tell anyone who feels that way to be ashamed of themselves.  We are all Americans, and we should act together, without hesitation or remorse, in the interests of the United States of America – the government whose laws we have all consented to respect, the only government whose course we can influence with our votes.  We have always been gracious hosts to citizens from other nations who visit us… but they are citizens of other nations, until and unless they choose to renounce that citizenship and comply with our procedures for becoming American.  Most of us are quite willing to entertain ideas for streamlining that process.  Very few of us are in favor of severely restricting or terminating it.  But none of us should be interested in abandoning it.

Border security is not a crumb tossed to grumpy xenophobes, to secure their grudging support for an amnesty process.  It’s not an empty ritual, a box that can be checked off by convening a couple of blue-ribbon commissions in a few years.  It’s not a bargaining chip the ruling class should be using in a negotiation with its citizens – it’s a duty the government is legally obliged to fulfill.  It is an indispensable part of safeguarding American citizenship and national security.

But those are not important concerns for the political class.  Their goal is 11 or 12 million legalized citizens; they work backward from there, devising whatever political process is necessary to achieve that outcome… without forcing the government to address unpleasant duties it would rather ignore, or dwelling on the failure of previous amnesty programs.  Some in the ruling class are very eager to take delivery on the new imported electorate they ordered, and others have been persuaded there is no way to thwart that delivery.  Very few of them are terribly interested in being honest with us about the process.

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