Saturday, November 14, 2015

You Want To "Enforce The Law"? Then PAY For It!

It takes a fairly strong stomach to watch even one Republican presidential debate.  I must have a stronger stomach that I previously realized, because I've watched all four while successfully resisting the temptation to throw up.  Nevertheless, even I will admit that I came fairly close during the most recent one, as I watch each of the clown-car refugees call on President Obama to "enforce the law," by which of course they meant the immigration laws, by which of course they meant to deport every "illegal" immigrant in existence.  Yep.  All 11 million-plus of them.  Right now.

This conveniently overlooks the fact that Obama, far from the being the radical Kenyan turn-'em-loose radical they so badly want him to be, has effectively become the Deporter-In-Chief, perhaps motivated in part by the view that such toughness, imposed even in cases that might have merited some degree of leniency, would give him the ability to woo Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform.  And we all know how that turned out.

In any event, if effort was all it took, Obama couldn't have expended more effort than he has to "enforce the law."  Which begs the question; why do we still have 11 million-plus human beings living in the shadows?

For the same reason that many immigrants have to wait years or even decades just to have a decision granted on their ability to live in the U.S.:  we have an immigration system that doesn't match up to the reality of not just a global economy, but a global culture as well.  And even worse, although we insist that the undocumented are the fundamental threat to the American way of life today, our priorities in federal spending don't reflect that point of view.

Consider, for example, the fact that we spend only slightly more than 3 billion dollars on USCIS, the federal agency that oversees immigration, but over 600 billion dollars on defense spending, much of it on redundancies and Cold War-era strategic thinking.  As mentioned in my previous post, we clearly need to redirect at least some of this spending away from conventional military fighting and much more toward intelligence and special-ops, i.e., to fight guerrilla warfare with guerrilla warfare. At the same time, however, we need to re-direct a portion of it toward immigration, which all of us now agree has at least some relationship to the issue of terrorism.

We currently have an immigration system that is almost entirely paid for by the filing fees of petitioners for immigration benefits.  And, if in fact the laws are not being fully enforced, that money clearly isn't enough.  And the answer doesn't lie in jacking up the fees.  Take a look at the fee schedule, which you can find by clicking here, and you'll be amazed by how ridiculously high the current fees are.  One alternative to re-directing defense spending might be, as part of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, to expand the numbers of visas currently available each fiscal year.  But that may not be a politically viable solution, although it would produce other benefits in addition to paying for the immigration system.

In any case, the money to "enforce the law" has to come from somewhere.  Otherwise, by definition, the law will never be fully enforced.  And presidents like Obama will be forced to exercise some form of prosecutorial discretion--which, ultimately is all that he has offered in his various proposed forms of immigration relief (now stalled in court), and which as as legal as eating a hot dog at the ballgame (thank you, Jack Webb).  And those who complain about a lack of enforcement while failing to explain how to pay for more enforcement should be exposed for what they are: hypocrites.

It is long past time for the clowns in the car that masquerades as the Republican presidential field to put up or shut up on this point.  Either that, or get out of the way and let the grown-ups take over. We've all suffered enough with the status quo.  The 11 million-plus have suffered most of all.

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