Thursday, May 18, 2006

Borderline Immigration Policy

At the end of his immigration speech on May 15, the President shared a Reaganesque anecdote about being present at the naturalization of a Marine Sargeant, Guadulupe Denogean, who had come to the United States from Mexico. He didn’t mention the fact that Denogean was naturalized in April of 2003 nor did he mention the fact that Denogean was one of two military men in Bethesda who were naturalized that day. The other was OJ Santamaria, a native of the Phillipines.

The Denogean story is significant because it reveals some of the very slippery ground in what amounts to our cultural borderline personality disorder. Both the President and the news stories were pointedly vague about what Denogean’s precise immigration status was when his family came to pick crops in Arizona when he was a child. (to be clear, I have no idea what it was) For purposes of the 2006 speech, the President rather slyly implied that Denogean’s family had been illegal at some point. As Balidilocks points out, it would be somewhat odd in a speech on “illegal” immigration to be touting a citizenship ceremony for a “legal” resident.

After all, no credible person has argued that “legal” immigrants pose any sort of problems. Some, however, have pointed out that the all the 9/11 highjackers entered the U.S. legally or at least had papers.

Let’s just say that Denogean’s family happened to be illegal at some point. Certainly, he was far too young when they came here to bear any responsibility for having broken American law as opposed to say the moral law of trying to feed one’s family. If you read the Marine Corps press release from 2003, you’ll see that the Sargeant dropped out of high school at age 17 to join the Marines and served in the Corps for some 26 years before becoming a citizen after having been wounded in his second conflict as a U.S. Marine.

In his words, “It was a better life than continuing to work in the fields like his parents had to.”

In any case, I have no problem at all with granting Denogean citizenship regardless of what turns up about the legality of his family's immigration status. I certainly have less problem with any illegals who might be serving than I do with Jonah Goldberg not serving.

At the same time, what a subtle and brilliant plan on the President’s part! Instead of rounding up thousands of illegal immigrants and arresting them or sending them back to their native countries, why not just draft them? There’ve been some problems with recruitment quotas in the last year. After all, most point out that illegal workers already do jobs that not enough Americans care to do.

I could also see this fascinating scenario unfold on our now better-armed border with Mexico. Given all the stories about National Guard units having to stay in Iraq for unexpectedly long tours, we could have National Guard units of former illegals sent to the border to identify and catch illegals. We slap the uniform on the person, implant a tracking chip, and he/she goes from security threat to security asset just like that. It's much better than "catch and release". This way, you never run out of National Guardsmen to round up illegals- solution by induction at its finest.

Yankee fans, the baseball ones, have already seen this transformation by uniform technique work with Johnny Damon.

I will grant that it might be confusing. One day, you’re comparing illegal immigrants to terrorists and drug dealers, the next day the same individual becomes a shining beacon of all that’s good about America, so much so that the President drags out your story three years later. At the same time, everyone’s happy. The former illegal immigrant now has a job that comes with benefits, training, and a path to U.S. citizenship. Conservatives can continue to support the war without actually risking their own children. In the meantime, no illegals are driving cars without licenses, using our public schools, or filling up our emergency rooms. It’s the ultimate guest worker program.

I can’t remember who said that the mark of genius is to hold two mutually contradictory ideas in one’s mind without going crazy. By combining a proposal for a border army to keep out illegal immigrants while simultaneously and subtly endorsing the notion that an illegal immigrant can be a great American by joining the army, the President has clearly asserted his genius.

I do find it interesting that our culture has become obsessed with both illegal immigration and foreign terrorists at the same time I say “foreign” because the second biggest terrorist action on U.S. soil was the Oklahoma City bombing and no one pre-emptively invaded say Michigan to root out the Michigan Militia.

We took our time catching and convicting Terry Nichols and Timothy Macveigh while still respecting the Constitution. After it turned out that the Atlanta Olympics bomber, Eric Rudolph, was an anti-abortion activist, we didn’t send all anti-abortion activists to Guantanamo. Has anyone ever seen some of the stories about the kinds of weapons some of these groups have been accumulating?

To me, the reason is pretty simple.We’re going through yet another stage where we are more comfortable blaming “others” for our problems. Americans don’t want to look at themselves as the source of their woes.

Illegal immigrants are stealing our low-level jobs, yet we somehow have to keep raising the number of H1 visas to bring in high-tech workers and teachers. Illegal immigrants are taking advantage of our health care and education system which both obviously work perfectly but for the demand they place on those institutions. Foreign terrorists threaten us our every waking moment, yet we shoot each other, poison ourselves with alcohol and cigarettes, or simply run over one another in our SUV’s at a far greater rate than any jihadist plots have managed. Should we do anything to say just regulate those problems? Absolutely not-it limits our precious freedom.

By the way, why is it okay to track all our phone calls but not okay to make someone register a gun? One threatens the creation of a police state, but the other is just about keeping us safe?

In the meantime, I look forward to the technology that our genius President referenced to help us police our borders. Perhaps he can pass a law for NSA to implant a chip inside every American and then turn the border into a fifteen hundred mile long bar code scanner. When someone comes through the gate without the chip, a buzzer goes off. Perhaps the President's dad could come out of retirement to help with this project since he seemed so impressed when he saw such a device at the supermarket so many years ago.

Prior to the Fugitive Slave Act, they had a similar idea called the “slave bracelet”. The Germans also used tattoos to help distinguish real Germans from impostors. Perhaps this is the tamper-proof worker ID that he proposed in his speech. So, these kinds of ideas do have a track record.

In any case, I’d like to be the first to volunteer to help the administration with any or all of these plans. I’m sure they know how to reach me by phone these days.
another immigration post link


At 5/18/2006 09:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that a claim is logical does not make it true. You make a lot of claims that are based on suspicion, and paranoia.

You may call it whatever you want but a country where 30% of the population votes and participates in another country's elections, continues to receive political information from their consulates and invest their savings in another country's economy would not be the USA as we know it. For you that may be a good thing, millions of Americans disagree.

By the way you may want to do a google search on the text "Oklahoma City Bombing"+Iraq before stating that Timothy McVeigh had no middle east connections.

You may also want to inform yourself of the activities of David Duke in the middle east before concluding that American Neo-Nazis have no connection to the Jihadhist.

Finally, since you think that we ought to be more resolute in our response to domestic terrorism "of the white persuasion" you may want to write your representative in favor of the "domestic spying of these and other groups."

At 5/18/2006 09:52:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

thanks for reading and commenting.

1) are you suggesting that 30% of the US electorate is made up of illegal immigrants?
Could you share your source on that?

2) I didn't state that McVeigh had no Middle Eastern connections. Richard Clarke's book mentioned that Terry Nichols may have learned how to make bombs from Al Qaeda at some sort of "training" in Indonesia. I think it was.

But, as far as I know, the bombing has always been portrayed as entirely the work of right wing anti-Federal Government radicals rather than Oklahoma City was carried out by Osama. In any case, no one responded with mass arrests of anyone who had associated with McVeigh.

just to be clear, I've written some on the "because it's linked on the Internet it must be true" phenomenon.
Often, stories like that can be traced to a common sometimes not very reliable source, yet google searches turn up dozens of links.

I also didn't conclude that there was no connection between extreme right wing groups and Jihadists, I just noted that we seem to be very concerned about one group of terrorists and surprisingly tolerant of American born terrorists, yet in terms of the number of incidents (as opposed to the number of dead) on American soil, there's no comparison.

I didn't say anything about "white" and I have to wonder if that reflects more about how you're reading this than what I might have written. I have, however, say that there is as good a case for taking on right wing terrorism in the US as there is for taking on Islamic terrorism. Not all right wing radicals are white.

In either case, I'd want appropriate, effective surveillance that shows some sensitivity for the Constitution yet balances in honest assessments of the immediacy of any real danger. I don't believe that we get that.

Similarly, I prefer immigration policies that are both realistic and fair. The Sensenbrenner bill proposed to make illegal immigration a crime with penalties comparable to murder and rape. I'm sorry, but I just don't see it that way. Maybe it's because I'm descended from illegal immigrants. Maybe it's because most of us aren't indians.

At 5/21/2006 01:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The section of "wall" I've seen is as molecule-crawlingly ugly a construction by putative human beings as I have seen on the planet. It gives one that same cold horror that seeing the holocaust camps does. Their atrocious soulless efficiency. Sick, deepestly sick.

What the hell is happening to America? We torture. We listen to and keep lists of phone calls. We pretend that we don't want the obscenely cheap labor that we exploit from Mexico. We have no health insurance for our citizens. We suggest that anyone could live on minimum wage. (You try it. At the same time you're sending your kid to fight in the noble war in Iraq.)

I haven't been able to churn up enough "suspicion and paranoia" to keep up with this crowd.

At 5/22/2006 08:12:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Just to be clear.. the photo with my post is a section of the Berlin Wall.

stripped to essentials, I think the instinct to survive, to feed one's family, etc. doesn't really recognize territorial lines.

I've also always thought the "social contract" was something of a fiction.

At 5/22/2006 07:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, no, the pict of the Berlin Wall you have is a skylark stroll in the park of loveliness compared to the Wall we have put on the border which is savage and chilling.

I'll try to find the image again one of these days.


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